I began these series of Online Insights articles addressing the process of your writing a personal financial and business plan. My objective was to uncover the “source” — the purpose — of this planning process. I was hopeful that examining the purpose of your financial and business plan would lead to the personal question as to what is your life’s purpose. Identifying your life’s purpose should have moved the business and personal financial plan writing to a different dimension.
To further help illuminate that inner purpose and destiny, I asked you to consider two questions. The first question was intended to allow you to explore the possibilities of living life without the fear of not having enough money and think about what you would do with your money. Would you change anything? Let yourself go. Don’t hold back your dreams. Describe a life that is complete, that is richly yours.
The second question added a new “wrinkle” to your financial and business journey — your own mortality. I asked you to consider an approximate 10-year remaining timeframe to your life. Your next decade would continue as it is now. The bad news is that you will have no notice of the moment of your death. What will you do in the time you have remaining to live? Will you change your life and how will you do it?
This second question drew you closer to defining a life with purpose. Remember, our compelling theme throughout these articles is about your creating the experiences to manifest your current life of success into a life of significance. There are many paths you can take to become significant. Your own creativity and inner soul-searching will provide you with numerous ideas that equate with significance.
What adjustments would you make to your current definitions of purpose if I introduce the third question? All three questions are intended to “drill-down” to the “why” of what you do and “who” you are. So here it is:
This time, your doctor shocks you with the news that you have only one day left to live. Notice what feelings arise as you confront your very real mortality. Ask yourself: What dreams will be left unfulfilled? What do I wish I had finished or done? What did I miss? [i]
So as we do goal planning, is today just a means to an end? All the things we chart out and itemize, does that minutia allow us to “smell the roses along the way?” Are we actually living each day to the fullest? Or, as Eckhart Tolle suggests in his book “The Power of Now,” are we living in the Now? Take the time to reflect upon the questions within this third question. Even though we plan, we are only guaranteed the present moment. How are we using each moment to create our journey of significance?
Previously we used “making an impact on people’s lives” as one example of purpose. Our prior discussion in previous articles progressed from pleasure and passion to purpose. Philanthropy may be one of the ways to demonstrate a sense of purpose in impacting people’s lives. But what does the third question evoke in you? One question provided you with a 10-year timeframe to plan accordingly. Now, your time frame is 24 hours. In addition to all of the emotions that consume your every thought, the word “legacy” may pop into your thoughts. What legacy is created at my death, and how will that impact people’s lives?
This last question has a tendency to question all those trivial things that you once thought were so relevant and important. You have left a succession plan at death for your family (either by choice or through the intestacy rules within the state/county in which you reside). The long and short of it is whatever you have documented will transfer to your heirs and the next generation of family and employees. Hopefully planning, and not chance, will determine the future disposition of your estate. Legacy refers to the inheritance or bequests that will be created at your death.
So “piggy-backing” upon the discussion with your family and employees about philanthropic planning, what other content can be include in your “open” discussion with family and staff? Have you discussed your business succession plan? What relevant discussions have you had with the disposition of both your personal assets and your business interests? Are your heirs informed to the extent that they feel comfortable with your wishes, and are your employees comfortable with the continuation of their jobs as well as the future of the company? You’ve empowered your staff and made them ambassadors of your business’s purpose. Where do you start with finding the right successors? How do you document your transition?
So in the next few articles, let’s explore the many ways of transferring assets and purpose to our intended beneficiaries.
Robert A. Valente, CFP®, AEP®, CEO & Managing Member of RAV Financial Services LLC, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
[i] These questions are taken from the book “Lighting the Torch: "The Kinder Method(TM) of Life Planning” by George Kinder and Susan E Galvan.