The Game-Changing Question. A Pivotal Moment
Seven years ago, we had a group of friends, high achievers, over for dinner. Amongst our guests was a newly retired director of a hospice.
I thought to tie in our dinner discussion with what she did by posing this question to my dinner guests: “How would you live life differently if you were told you only had 30 days left to live?‘ It was a question I had never contemplated. But as my guests started answering it, it became apparent that most of us were living our lives differently from how we would if we felt any sense of urgency.
It was a beautiful, early summer day. As I reflected on the question, I looked out of our floor-to-ceiling windows that surrounded the dining table, appreciating the stunning sunset. It started to dawn on me that for someone who preached “authenticity,” the only thing real in my life was the breathtaking views of Mt. Baker on one side and the snowcapped Olympic Mountains on the other, with the Juan D Fuca Strait in the middle. I was out of alignment with who I was and what I had wanted out of life.
Yes, I had all the socially prescribed trappings of success – a devoted husband, a successful career in finance, two beautiful homes, three cars, and two daughters ready to leave the nest. But I felt this persistent ache for something different.
After my guests left and the dishes put away, I got ready for bed. The answer to the question must have lingered in my subconscious while I slept because I awoke with tears streaming down my face. How did I detour so far off from my center?
The Decisions That Matter
We get pulled by so many different voices telling us how we are supposed to be; we can barely hear the whispers of our hearts. How do we know what we value is not what we’ve been told to value. As an advisor, I had all the calculators at my fingertips to get people to where they claimed they wanted to go – the early retirement, ownership of the cottage on the lake, a healthy portfolio. This list goes on. Things that will make us happier. But do they? I did finally tune in and make a series of difficult decisions that I have not regretted.
I am in the business of inspiring people to a mindset of living fully and using their financial resources to support that. The realization that we never know when the clock on our last 30 days would start ticking compelled me to reframe my conversations with my clients. The usual question, “Who do you want to leave your asset to?” turned into, “What kind of impact would you like to have once you’re gone?” Or, instead of. “what can I get?’ the more important question is, “what would bring me fulfillment.”
Questions to Inspire a Different Kind of Financial Life
We all know that we can’t take anything with us beyond the grave. Yet, our society is constantly pursuing more; a better education, the bigger house, the second home, the high six-figure salary.
What if our conversation on money started with the end in mind? Not on what we’ve accumulated and can’t take with us., but on what we wanted to leave behind? The impact we’ve had on the people around us. The contributions we’ve made to society.
If we approached money with the end in mind, would we spend as much time at work? Would the climb up the corporate ladder look different?
A Different Approach To Money
Perhaps you would approach the subject a lot more carefully if you knew you could make an impact on those around you long after you are gone. Maybe you would think more about how you spend your finances, your time, and your energy.
What if we started the conversation on money not from what we wanted but what we already had? Not from what we kept but from what we shared? Will our conversation on money be different from what it is now?
We are not all called to save the world or start a school for girls in Africa. But something within you may compel you to leave a legacy that aligns with the essence of who you are. That dinner party was a pivotal moment for me. It was a game-changer. A defining moment that changed the course of my life. It stirred in me a sense of urgency. And a walk towards greater fulfillment.
“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman.
What makes you come alive? How would you then script your life if you knew you only had 30 days left to live? How would you then manage your estate? What would you want to be doing the last hour of your time on earth? Are you doing all of that now?
Let’s Have a Conversation!
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Through one on one coaching, webinars, online courses, and public speaking, Jennifer empowers individuals and businesses to manifest the outcomes they desire. For a consultation, please email her at email@example.com.
She has written numerous books on money: Women and Money: 7 Principles Every Woman Needs to Know to Be Financially Prepared in Any Economy and Growing Up With Money: Raising Financially Resilient Kids in an Age of Uncertainty.