In 2018, James Clear, author of the NYT bestseller, Atomic Habits, posted the following on Twitter regarding types of wealth:

  • Financial wealth (money)
  • Social wealth (status)
  • Time wealth (freedom)
  • Physical wealth (health)

What I appreciate about this list is how it succinctly expands the definition of wealth beyond money and financial assets. Because, just as I believe there is a danger in conflating being rich with being wealthy, there is also a danger in operating with a notion that there is only one type of wealth. And, that it is financial.

I would modify James’ list slightly so that “social wealth” wasn’t just about status but also included relationships and connections. Likewise, I’d add a fifth type: Spiritual wealth (soul/emotional/mental health).

Whether you stick with James’ version, include the fifth dimension I’ve added, or add your own, I love how identifying different types helps to ensure we are looking at and pursuing many dimensions of wealth.

This is something I endeavor to address with my signature exercise – The Financial Wheel. It’s an exercise I created nearly twenty years ago and use with every coaching client and to kick-off every workshop. When we reach the “invest” portion of the wheel, I ask questions designed to tap into these other dimensions.

I do it to highlight the danger in having a one-dimensional perspective when it comes to wealth.

Because if there’s one thing that can prevent you from building sustainable wealth, it is having a narrow view that only sees it in the form of money.  

Wealth Beyond Money

What kind of wealth are you building?

Is it inclusive of all the dimensions listed above? Or, have you confined it exclusively to money? If the latter, you’re clearly not alone (so no shame!). But then here’s what I’d invite you to focus on:

What are you doing to “master” your money?

Creating and building wealth – especially if your desire is for it to be sustainable and provide for multiple generations – demands a lot of and from you in every area of your life.

Financial wealth

So regarding this…

  • What are you doing to master your behavior and mindset when it comes to saving, investing spending and earning?
  • What are you doing to master your knowledge?
  • What are you doing to master managing your financial team?

From where I sit, it is pretty evident that in order to master your financial wealth, you also need to master/build the other dimensions of wealth, too.

Why? Because building and sustaining wealth beyond three generations requires an ecosystem. And like all ecosystems, the components fuel and feed off each other.

Social wealth

On its own, social wealth relates to connectedness and how we fill our social and emotional needs by interacting with others. It fulfills emotional necessities like sharing and belonging. I mean, don’t you feel validated when you’re with people (family, friends, colleagues and sometimes even strangers) who you feel just “get” you – like you’ve found your tribe?!

Social connection is social wealth. And guess what, it plays a critical role in building any of the other dimensions of wealth because you can’t do it on your own effort or resources alone!!

In other words, we need each other.

Thus, to amplify your social wealth…

  • You need to cultivate existing and new personal and professional relationships.
  • You need to be clear about what you do and don’t stand for, as well as what you will and will not do to build your financial wealth.
  • You need to be comfortable in your skin when it comes to the material components of your wealth, especially since there will likely always be someone who has less than and more than you.

Time wealth

If you were to decide tomorrow to stop working, for how long could your savings cover your expenses? How about if you also included your investments?

Whether you said seven days, seven months, seven years, or rolled your eyes and said, “girl, please,” time wealth is about your capacity to deliberately spend your time doing what you want, when you want.

When it comes to time wealth, the key is to make sure all of your time isn’t being spent on earning money to build wealth.  

Since time wealth is about flexibility and freedom, your job is to create the circumstances that enable you to experience this — regardless of where you fall on the income and wealth spectrum.

Physical wealth

Let’s face it, without the vitality of a healthy body, it’s hard to create and maintain the other kinds of wealth. This is probably the reason for the oft-quoted phrase, “Health is wealth.”

Physical exercise, nutrition, sleep, and rest are some of the key elements of physical health and, thus, physical wealth. So be wary of endeavors that continuously “ask” you to compromise these, positioning it as the price you have to pay in order to experience any of the other forms of wealth – especially financial wealth.

Spiritual wealth

In the spirit of honoring all religions, as well as those who don’t believe in God, and in recognition that this is as abstract as heck, let’s approach this via a question: What is your practice for connecting with and managing your emotions and feelings?

What do you do to stay present in the moment while you work to design your future?

Do you pray? Do you meditate? Do you do both? Do you single-task (as opposed to multi-task)?

My best definition for spiritual wealth is awareness.

How in tune are you with your beliefs about money? How aware are you of why you’re making the decision and choices you make? How aware are you of what is fueling your desire for the financial, social, time and physical wealth you want to experience – and pass down to the generations behind you?

How aware are you of what interrupts your efforts to focus on each kind of wealth, individually?

As I referenced in the first piece of this series, there isn’t a singular path when it comes to anything related to money. And just as I believe our individual and collective emotional and financial well-being needs us to stop conflating being rich with being wealthy, I also believe we need to change how we talk about wealth.

So, let’s make sure that when we talk about wealth it is an expansive conversation – not one-dimensional.

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