I was involved in an exercise recently where each person mapped out their history and explored the defining moments in their life. We organized all of these moments on our own personal timeline and then were challenged to name these moments. It was fun to reminisce and chart the unique path that life has taken me on and to give those moments creative names. The final part of the exercise was to write down the lessons we have learned through our journey. Here are a few things I have learned and how that applies to finances in our lives.
Life Is Fragile
I am not alone in experiencing the death of those closest to me. It is the universal human experience. Learning that life is fragile has helped me love today… for that is all I really have. One of the most profound ideas that I have ever come across was from a book written by a priest who had attended many on their deathbed. A common refrain of those about to die was “That was it?” I don’t want to say that on my deathbed, so that drives me to do what I can today to live and love. This has a financial aspect to it also: be prepared. Have your financial life and estate plan in order TODAY and communicate it to those that need to know. It is a gift to those that will pick up the pieces when you are gone…and nobody knows when that will be.
Life Is Going To Be Different Than You Expect
About every 4-5 years, I’ve stopped to look at the landscape of my life. And to my everlasting surprise, it is ALWAYS different than I expected it to be! Which means in 5 more years, I’ll be surprised again (silly me). The point is that life changes, and we have to adjust. Your finances are changing too, so periodically you have to put a new stake in the ground, test the winds, and chart a new course.
Stop Working To Be Free Of The Struggle
All of us struggle with something. Most of us struggle with many things. My efforts in the past have always been to free myself of the struggle, only to find a new one takes its place. I’m more comfortable with the struggle now, because my focus is to find life within the struggle instead of trying to free myself from it. There is an inherent struggle with finances. Money is limited. Your opportunities to spend it are unlimited. Keep at it! The answers are there in the struggle.
The ‘Good Guy’ Award Is Really The One You Want
Do you remember the award ceremonies in your past when they get to the end and have that one last award that is given to the person who “exemplifies all the noble qualities...” That is the award that I want. I started life wanting the ‘MVP’ award, but now I’m shooting for the ‘good guy’ award. Your closest relationships are the ones who get to vote on and deliver that award. And so it goes with your finances. Your money has a more important role than to be the most valuable player in your life. It should simply support you in your quest for the ‘good guy’ award.
I encourage you to make time to do this exercise. It will bring you back to your history and make you think critically about the things that really shaped and influenced you. Share them with those closest to you. It will generate some very meaningful conversations. We’d love to hear some of the things you’ve learned along the way. Please share them with us, so we can share them with you.
Guy Leman, CFP® & Owner