“Soon Your Life is Gone Before You Know What You’ve Lived For”

We are beneficiaries of the wealthiest nation in the world. But no matter how intentional we try to be, we still take for granted the countless common conveniences that were unimaginable or wildly extravagant not so many years ago. And despite our boundless resources, education systems, capital, enabling technologies, and the conveniences that make them all work for us, seems we are able to find precious little time to pursue our highest and our best purposes.

We are all so busy with the circumstances of life, our things and our amusements that we rarely take (or have) the time to look inwardly to ask important questions like – why am I here? Even if we have some sense of that why, we still find ourselves distracted by the agendas of others and limitless entertainment and distractions that rob precious time from our greater and more noble pursuits.

Monday and Wednesday brought stark reminders of how quickly and unexpectedly our lives can change or end. In Boston, runners and their supporters enjoying a significant life-accomplishment were brutally shaken by an evil act of violence. In West, Texas a burning fertilizer factory unexpectedly exploded killing and injuring scores of people going about their daily routines in their park, school, apartment complex, and homes. Life can change in a moment.

It’s not lost on any of us that our lives are too busy for our own good. And when forced by events like this week, we reluctantly accept that our time is limited. But do we take the opportunity to reflect on the relevance of what we are about? Do we ask ourselves where is our busyness taking us, what does it all accomplish?

Have you ever wondered; am I accomplishing today or planning to accomplish soon what I will most regret not accomplishing by the end of my life?

How we spend each moment of each day is the result of the choices we make. We may be obliged to work for a living, but we chose where we work and what work we do. If we feel trapped by a large mortgage, it is because we chose to buy a house that required it. Once major decisions are made, inertia sets in and we tend to think they are unchangeable. We forget that we still have choices – in most everything. If we hate our job, we can change jobs. (perhaps not so easily these days, but it can be done if we want it badly enough). A large mortgage can be reduced or eliminated if we downsize or rent.

The point is, we generally do what we want to do and most often that is to maintain the status quo. So strong are the grips of inertia, fear, and uncertainty that we eagerly turn to the our distractions to comfort ourselves.The tragedy of living in the status quo is that we too readily accept the good or the acceptable when the excellent is well within our reach. Worse still, our time spent in the status quo, is time lost to our greater purposes.

How to escape your Status Quo

It stands to reason that better information drives better choices. But the kind of information required is not often discovered in the status quo world of investment reports, retirement calculators, or financial plans. In fact, the quest for these answers is too challenging for most status quoers because they are too tightly bound to today to reach for a better tomorrow. In other words, they are so busy with today’s distractions that they do not or cannot take the time to discern their own dreams for a better and more purposeful life.

But for those few who have the courage to ask the questions, to take the time to consider what they are living for and what it would take to make their lives and those around them more abundant; unlimited opportunities await. To be clear, the ‘opportunities’ here may have something to do with or may have almost nothing to do with the capital markets. Investments, which are the central thing in the status quo world, are but the vehicle and represent only part of a comprehensive plan designed to propel the person, who is central in the purposed world, toward his or her life purposes.

The skilled advisor, who has a relational understanding of his client’s goals and their relative importance to one another, undertakes a process of arranging their timing and degree of fulfillment. His objective is to achieve at the ideal levels and timing as many of his client’s most important goals as possible, while ‘borrowing’ (if needed), from those that are least important. The investment portfolio is designed to efficiently harness the returns of the capital markets and is continually monitored to maintain adequate confidence, with no more risk than required, to meet and likely exceed all of his client’s most important financial goals.

In order to escape the status quo you need only understand what you want to accomplish with your life, develop a plan that adequately communicates it, and seek an advisor who will listen, understand, and diligently monitor your plan to ensure it will meet or exceed every financial goal you value in life.

The title quote is attributed to Richard Baxter, a seventeenth century English Puritan pastor. In his Christian Directory he wrote the following to his wealthy parishioners:
“You have so many games you can play, you have so many fine clothes to wear and get, so many rooms to adorn. But soon your life is gone before you know what you’ve lived for and the money is gone before it can be used to change the lives of those around you.”