Note: Taking a little break from tax law and retirement planning for the day…
One of the questions that I often ask folks as we’re working on financial matters is – “what is it that you want to DO?” And in this case, DO is capitalized to be emphatic, because the context of the question is with regard to life. “What is it that you want to DO in your life?”
Deep down, we all have the desire to matter. We want to, in some way, create a legacy of our life, so that this time we’ve spent here doesn’t seem like we’ve wasted our chances. Not that what we do every day – caring for our families, performing our job, etc., is a waste of time. But if we’re not cognizant of a greater purpose for our life, oftentimes life seems unfulfilled. It doesn’t have to be grandiose, we all have our little corners of the world that we can impact in a positive way that will leave a legacy long after we’re gone.
Believe me, I’m not in any way saying that I have all the answers. In fact, I have quite a few questions that you might want to ask yourself as you consider just “what is it that you want to DO?”. These questions are have a financial angle (duh, financial planner, remember?) but have a greater reach, as in how money interplays with your aims for your life.
- How would you describe your relationship with money? Is it a means to an end, or is a particular number the goal you’re aiming toward? If you answered the latter, what are you going to do with that sum of money when you get it?
- What in your life brings meaning to your existence? It may be volunteer work, your job, or just being with your family. How would a drastic reduction in your financial situation, such as loss of a job, impact your meaningful activities? Would a dramatic improvement in your financial situation, such as winning the lottery, lead you to doing more meaningful activities?
- If you’ve got an idea of what you’d like to accomplish in your life to leave a legacy, how does money affect your ability to do “your thing”? Are you doing those things now – that is, making those contributions – that will help to leave the impact you’re hoping to leave on the world?
- Quite often, it is said, that we don’t really get to know our personal strengths until we’ve faced adversity. If you’ve suffered a financial setback, what personal attributes do you have that you can use to help you deal with the situation and get yourself (and your family) through the crisis?
- As you consider your personal values, is there anything that you feel you’re lacking? Is it possible that we have too much “stuff” in our lives that keeps us from truly appreciating and evoking our values? Can you think of ways to eliminate some of the excess “stuff” so that the more important things take priority?
- Consider the above questions again, only substitute time for money in the question… and then do it again, substituting talents. Going through this process can produce real clarity.
Pretty sure we haven’t resolved anything here today – but hopefully some of the questions I’ve asked have sparked you to action (or at the very least, deep thought). Because the actions we take in our lives are our only way to create that legacy. In the end we want to look back on our life and feel satisfied that we’ve done our best.
That’s what it’s all about, right?
Take care, jb