“Success” for you is different to “success” for me.

I’ve been reflecting on this lately in the context of my business. I celebrated the two year anniversary of Fairhaven Wealth a few months ago, and there are many different ways of assessing whether the business has been a “success” so far.

By my own standards, the business has been successful, and shows every sign of continuing to be successful into the future.

By many external standards, however, it wouldn’t be successful.

If I’d joined an existing advice firm (or any professional services firm for that matter), and generated the level of revenue I’ve generated so far, I’d probably have been sacked by now.

If I measured “success” in terms of income I’ve generated versus income I could have generated by working in a standard employment position, the business would be a failure.

If my personal situation was different, the criteria for success would also be different. I’m fortunate enough to have a supportive wife who earns a generous income. I’m not the sole earner, or even the major breadwinner, in my household. For us, time flexibility, and the ability for me to be there for our children and deal with the inevitable curve balls that come our way, is more important than maximising our income.

If our situation was different, our definition of “success” would be different.

But from many other perspectives, the business has been an enormous success.

I’m making a profit. And the business is sustainable and has good prospects for the future.

This blog is made possible by Fairhaven Wealth and its wonderful clients.

I’m able to provide advice in the way that *I* believe is in the best interests of my clients, without any unnecessary constraints. In my heart of hearts, I feel like I’m doing the right things and adding value to people’s lives.

I’ve managed to create a situation where I can write (and arguably, HAVE to write) on this blog, which is something I love to do.

On top of this, I’ve managed to get myself into a situation where not only can I write about things without fear or favour (which itself is a freedom that not everyone has) – but it’s an important part of the identity of this blog. It’s one of the reasons people keep reading, and why people engage me as an adviser.

I’ve met some terrific people, and had amazing, candid conversations. It is a privilege to have people share personal things about their lives, and be worthy of their trust.

Over the course of two years, I’ve accumulated a large number of very happy clients.

And I’m happier than I’ve ever been.

That’s success for me. It’s embedded within a whole set of other values and priorities, and the broader situation of my own life and the lives of loved ones, including my wife and children.

There are clear trade-offs, and for different people the measure of success would be very different. But that’s the nature of any decision we make, big or small.

I’ve found my success. Which isn’t to say it was easy, and that my definition of success won’t change.

Achieving success from my end took a long time, a lot of work, a lot of thought, introspection, sacrifice, and uncertainty. Plus, as much as anything else, an enormous serving of good luck.

I also have to work to sustain it, and adapt to my evolving circumstances and changing values.

But enough of me.

What is YOUR success?

Sonnie Bailey

In his spare time, Sonnie likes telling people that he’s a former Olympic power walker, a lion tamer, or that he is an orthodontist. He is none of those things. In reality, Sonnie is a financial planner based in Christchurch. Through his business, Fairhaven Wealth (www.fairhavenwealth.co.nz), he provides independent, advice-only, fixed-fee financial planning services. Sonnie is a “recovering lawyer”: he has specialised in trusts and personal client work. He has also worked as a financial services lawyer for many years.

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