Personal finance columnist: Three questions to rock your world |

Personal finance columnist: Three questions to rock your world

Danielle Howard
Staff Photo |

Don’t read further unless you can spend more than the cursory 90 seconds it takes to peruse 700 words. The content will take you some time to consider and, if you so choose, enter into a contemplative time of reflection and discernment as to what will unfold. If you have a significant other in your life, have them take time to read this and process it as well.

George Kinder is one of the fathers of Financial Life Planning, my chosen vocation. I first read his “Seven Stages of Money Maturity” in 2000, and working through these three questions was paramount in changing the direction of my husband’s and my life. These questions are profound and powerful. You need to write down your answers to question No. 1 before moving on to question No. 2. Answer No. 2 before reading question No. 3. Ready?

Question 1: Imagine that you are financially secure. You have enough money to satisfy all of your needs, now and in the future. How would you live your life? Let yourself dream — don’t hold back. Write down everything that comes to mind — who you would be, what you would be doing, where you would be living.

Question 2: You have gone to your doctor and been told that you have only five to 10 years left to live. The good news is that you won’t feel sick, or have declining health. The bad news is that you will have minimal to no notice as to the moment of your death. Your financial standing will remain the same — you have enough. What will you do, and who would you be in the time you have remaining? What changes from question 1?

Question 3: You come back to the doctor and are shocked with the news that you have only one day left to live. Notice what feelings arise as you confront your imminent mortality. As you reflect, not only on what you have accomplished, but what is left unfinished or undone. Ask yourself: What regrets do I have?

Answering these questions uncovers the essence of who you are at this moment. Your answers can inspire you and will occasionally dispirit you. The purpose of this exercise is to motivate you to live life forward with passion and purpose.

Most of the time the answers in No. 3 congregate around five themes. Relationships, spirituality, creativity, giving back and a sense of place. I have been privileged to hear the insights: “I didn’t get to redeem a relationship with my brother,” “I would have liked to simplify my life,” “I didn’t pursue my calling,” “I didn’t write a book,” “I didn’t build the house of my dreams,” “I didn’t become a teacher,” “I didn’t spend more time with my kids,” “I didn’t pursue watercolors,” and “I didn’t raft the Grand Canyon.” What I have never heard is “I didn’t make 10 percent on my investments,” “I wish I would have made more money” or “I didn’t have a bigger storage unit.”

What do these questions have to do with your finances? What you do to bring money into your life, how you give, invest, grow, protect and spend is intricately woven throughout the tapestry you are creating. As you understand the options you have with financial tools and other resources and align them, you can transition and move towards or live more fully the life most meaningful without regrets.

As you answer these questions it will open up a world of possibilities and of challenges. You will have to probe your status quo and get comfortable with the possibility of change. You will need to embrace risk, face fears and welcome potential. Search your soul and determine if new mountains are worth climbing. These questions can be asked as new seasons unfold in your life.

In the movie “Chariots of Fire,” Eric Liddell lived life fully: “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast! And when I run I feel his pleasure.” What is your purpose? How do you feel God’s pleasure? Do you want to be a Chariot of Fire?

Danielle Howard is a Certified Financial Planner practitioner. Her office, Wealth By Design LLC, is in Basalt. Visit her at Advisory Services offered through Cambridge Investment Research Advisors Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor. Securities offered through Cambridge Investment Research Inc., a broker/dealer, member FINRA/SIPC. Cambridge and WBD are not affiliated.

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