The art of achieving what is important to you

16 Oct 2015

By Darren Higgs

Recently I attended the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes exhibition at the NSW Art Gallery. Not only did I enjoy viewing the exhibitions, but I also enjoyed reading the descriptions next to each painting. I am a 'mindset' type of person. I find it interesting to get a glimpse into what a person was thinking or feeling when they achieved something wonderful. This not only applies to art but also to sport, business, science or any endeavour where people step outside of their comfort zone and focus on what is really important to them. 

On the descriptions, it never said the artist picked up a paintbrush, chose some colours, put some paint on the canvas and hoped something worthwhile would be produced. Nor did it say the artist wanted to use X-brand of paintbrush or Y-brand of canvas. Of course, these are the processes and tools involved. 

To achieve anything worthwhile, you must have a systematic, evidence-based process or tools to make it work. However, the 'process and tools' are not what is important. The inspiration or the reason for wanting to paint that subject is what is really important. The following pieces of 'inspiration' jumped out at me when reading the descriptions. 

Young Archies 

 This was the prize given to children who painted some terrific portraits. With the children, it was obvious they were looking at the positive attributes of their subjects. They believe their subjects are wonderful and can achieve anything in this world. It was just like how children view Mum and Dad. There is no negativity in their thinking. Children are not afraid of investment markets, jobs, paying bills or anything else that is part of the 'rat race'. Children just want to live life. As we get older, we lose that sense of wonderment and amazement with the world. So when it comes time to chasing the things that you desire, get in touch with your inner child. 


 A few artists did self-portraits. They did this because they felt they understood their character better than someone else's. This, however, does not always apply to everybody. In my vocation, I sometimes meet people who don't understand their own character and don't know how to articulate their goals. The reason that these people (including myself) struggle is because understanding yourself is really hard. We feel so much pressure to conform to society that sometimes we lose that inner spark that makes us tick. If you were to do a self-portrait, how would you paint yourself? Would the picture have a negative undertone? Now, what if you were able to achieve all of your goals and objectives in life, how would that make you feel? Would you paint your self-portrait differently? If so, get cracking on achieving your goals. 

Powerful images are right in front of us 

We see amazing things every day. However, we are often too busy to notice to look at things from a different angle. Looking out of my office, I can choose to see a workplace with dull brown carpet, off white walls and a whole lot of paperwork, or I can choose to see to some fantastic people who have a real impact on our client's lives. The choice is yours as to how you view the world. 

Art is really a personal dialogue 

 I believe the same philosophy applies with each person's ambitions and goals. When I first meet clients and ask them what they want to achieve, they often tell me what they think I want to hear. For example, 'my main aim is to get a 10 per cent return.' If your main aim in life is to get a 10 per cent return, that is pretty dull. Get in touch with what is really important in life such as family, friends, travel and so on and then we can tailor the investments to meet your goals. Everybody's values are different and personal to them, so make sure you say what you, personally, want to achieve.


The Wynne Prize winner, and my personal favourite, was titled 'Biophilia'. This means 'love of life.' It references a scientific study that suggests affiliation with nature is integral to our psychological and physical development. For me, while cheekily twisting the theme a little, this goes back to focussing on what humans naturally desire. After the obvious physiological needs, our natural instincts makes us crave personal security, financial security, health and wellbeing, friendship and family. So do not fight instinct. Make instinct an important part of your lifestyle and goal setting, and then your advisers can structure your finances to achieve these aims. We are not above nature, but very much a part of it. Restore extraordinary back to the ordinary Put some 'wow' factor back into your life and goals. The factor that separates extraordinary from ordinary is your spirit and energy. If you are excited about your goals, you will likely achieve them. You will also get other people excited about your goals, such as your advisers. When you achieve your goals, it will be a celebration rather than simply ticking a box. 

A subject is never in the same place - It has its own secret life 

This rule also applies to your lifestyle and goals. Life is not meant to be static. Life is meant to be lived. So get out there and enjoy it. But also ensure that you have enough flexibility in your plan to allow for any changes to your goals. This way, no matter how your goals change in the future, you will always be able to achieve what is really important to you. 

What next? 

 As an exercise, picture what your perfect life would look like, with no constraints and the freedom to do what you want to do. Feel the energy and happiness you would experience if you were living that lifestyle. Jot down exactly what you would be doing in this perfect lifestyle. Then, hand those notes to your trusted adviser and work together to make your perfect lifestyle happen.

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