We move quickly through our lives. In our earliest days, we’re just figuring out how to socialize and move through the world, exploring our interests and talents. Then comes college and careers and falling in love and kids and families.
In our youth, we’re building up our lives, always focused on the road ahead, never really looking back—and that’s how it should be. In my experience, that’s the only way it can be. Building the life I envisioned demanded an enormous amount of my time and energy, and it’s all been well worth it.
With that dedication, we rarely, if ever, take the time to slow down and think about if we ever want to do more than just accumulate, to do more than just take care of our families and ourselves.
Now, whether you are entering retirement or in the midst of your retirement, things are slowing down and you have the time to look back. It’s a natural stage of life to think back and ask yourself, “What does it all mean?” “What is it all about?” “Was it all just gain for gain’s sake?” The answers are elusive, and sometimes scary.
American mythology professor and philosopher Joseph Campbell offered an answer that gives some great perspective to these gnawing existential questions. He said, “Life has no meaning. Each of us has meaning and we bring it to life. It is a waste to be asking the question when you are the answer.” I think this is an incredibly empowering idea when considering our legacy and what comes next. You don’t have to have the answer, and there is no singular path—the power is yours to create meaning and purpose.
This is where charity and philanthropy enter the conversation. When confronted with the question, “What was it all about?” no one wants their answer to be “gain,” nor should it ever be just that. We all want to leave our mark on this world. If you’ve reached a point at which your family is taken care of, then move on to the question of how you can serve the family of mankind.
Starting down this line of inquiry and confronting the answers with a robust planned-giving strategy is what I call “Cramming for Life’s Finals.”
One of the most impactful thought exercises I can advise is to think of your life as a narrative. And I don’t mean just giving the Cliffs Notes. Think all the way back; don’t be afraid to get granular. Inevitably, you will uncover formative events, little lessons learned that you didn’t appreciate in the moment but have stayed with you, and “nuclear” events that changed your life drastically. They are all important and can all inform your values, direct your legacy, and drive your purpose.
I challenge you to do this because ultimately, it’s not just about money. Your legacy means more. We should share our values, our stories, our rich family histories. The personal stories that you pass down will be how people remember you generations from now. In the end, we want to leave our story, our lifeprints. You can leave a spiritual legacy, as well as a financial one.
Helping you find a greater purpose for yourself and your money is my passion. My planned-giving expertise can help you build a legacy that counts. It starts with asking and answering the right questions. My assessment can help you discover whether or not your money is doing the most for yourself, your family, and your legacy.