I used to think I was invincible, at times I even thought I may have been a robot. Now that I am older I have a ridiculously greater perspective of the world around me and where I currently see my place in it. Five years is a completely random time frame, but it is very similar to some of the questions I work with my clients to answer in their first meeting with me before we ever talk about financial information. If I had five years to live I would try to make them as epic as possible for my family with epic family memories, arrange my affairs to protect them in my absence, and leverage my unique experience to inspire those around me to live rich meaningful lives.
Build Family Memories
At an early age, I was very aware of trade-offs and how to maximize the value I receive from my purchases and investments. Back then, the value was largely placed on things, but now I have transitioned to valuing experiences. With a young family, it seems as though I have flashbacks almost daily about things I am already able to do with my wife and son to all of the things I can not wait to do when he gets a little bit bigger. Crap, I only have five more years though what are those things I can think of:
Road trip to Florida
Movie Marathon NIghts
Making S’mores and camping
Maybe watch him play baseball if they have leagues that young.
Take a family cruise
Go back to Italy
San Diego Comic Con
Some of these things may cost a pretty penny. However, I know there is a high probability that some of the most high-quality memories for my family can come from low-cost family time. One of my favorite memories as a kid was my dad kicking me. Before you go calling Child Services, it was a game that my brothers and I played with him called kick me off. We would dogpile on him and he would shake us off his leg or kick us off.
Protect My Family
When I think of death, I am not so much scared of not being in existence as I am beyond shaken at the thought I will not be around to help Brittany raise our children. As I write this today, my son decided to skip his nap and our normally tame son was like the Tasmanian Devil. I felt like I had pulled an all-nighter and that was just after four consecutive hours with him. My wife will be with him around the clock if I am gone. I wonder how my son will navigate his unique experiences. If I was around, could I help alleviate some of the pain or missteps that we all face throughout our life?
There is also a financial element. I am not scared about this because I have a million dollars of insurance coverage that I had taken out to protect against this what if scenario and I have my estate documents signed. That may sound like overkill, but is actually the sweet spot for the coverage that my family will need to replace my lost income and additionally pay for college if that is still a viable option when my son is old enough to make that decision. Interestingly enough, if I was not dying in five years, which I’m hoping not, but for this stories sake it is the assumption, we likely would not be able to fund his full college expenses if I was alive and making my full income. In my mind, I view that as an “I hope this somehow makes up for being raised by a single parent.”
Be an Inspiration
I have always been an optimistic person, I would hope to carry that through my diagnosis, as well. However, I foresee it having a more dramatic impact when I, the person dying within five years asks my new clients what they would do with their last five years. I want to inspire them. I want to inspire you to focus on what truly matters in your life. What are you allowing to be your roadblocks to living the life you want to live? If you were to face them, what could that look like? So often, people use finances to dictate what is possible, but they forget that they can control their finances. Sure, there are legacy financial decisions that your previous self committed to, but you can make new decisions moving forward. You can set priorities that reflect your values and dreams.
Empowering my clients to live their best lives is what I hope to motivate them to do. There are a few things about this mission of mine that I am not sure my clients are aware of. I am emotionally tied to their success and I am actually inspired by them. I have always been good (at least I think) at trying to imagine myself in other peoples’ shoes. This helps me see things from their perspective and get excited about their goals and dreams.
What does this all mean? It means I have a map of sorts of what I want my life to look like. It highlights what is most important to me and a few milestones that may be measurable. Now that this exercise is almost complete I can do a reality check to see if I have been building towards living the meaningful life I outlined. I do not know if it is exactly cheating, but I ask myself this question pretty regularly in my head. As a result, I feel like I am within punching range of where I want to be. After all, it was this type of question that led me to start Level Up Financial Planning. I will tell you this, it actually feels better than I thought to have it all down in writing. Hopefully, I have more than five years, but if I do not I am going to do everything I can to maximize my impact on my family and those around me.
Not willing to go through this exercise on your own. Reach out if you would find value in working with a planner that will care about your whole life, not just the money they manage for you. I look forward to helping you focus on what matters most to you and holding you accountable to push past the barriers we all create for ourselves.