The industrial revolution has stamped our brains with a mechanical metaphor for the arc of our lives: work until we wear out or become obsolete, then retire, and then die. On the bright side, my electric hair clippers with the self-sharpening blades are still going strong after fifty years. With a little cleaning and a drop of oil now and then they still hum along nicely. What an efficient design! We too are constructed with elegant engineering. Our brains are designed for self-sharpening, which opens the door to much happier thoughts than the “work, retire, die” scheme we absorbed in our youth. Where daily chores and events deflect many of us from following a path that will keep our brains sharp, remember: who we are and who we will become are energized by our hearts and brains, helping us define who we think we are and who we want to become. We really can strive to stay sharp for life. Once you believe this is a goal worth pursuing, you may find that switching onto such a path can require a mentor… so think about it, search out a mentor, and cut to the chase.
Our internal metronomes resonate within the higher frequencies of global communications, technological innovation, faster sales “turnover,” daily commuting, and a never-ending series of chores we must finish before sundown. The pace robs us of our chance to reflect upon the choices we must make and limits us to a range of two: “yes or no,” “right or wrong,” “good or bad,” “win or lose.” The rapid pace polarizes us as we slide into one or another of two camps that spring up instantly on every issue, public and private. There’s not enough time for “maybe,” “I’ll decide later,” or “do you have a better idea?” The pace of our daily lives has led a few of us to require a mechanical pacemaker in order to maintain an acceptable heartbeat. Others recognize the accelerating shrinkage of time in their daily lives, and consciously make time to consider some third, acceptable option when making their decisions. Making time to choose among at least three options can even out our rhythm and make room for wisdom to work in our lives. The beat goes on, but at a human frequency. It’s worth a try, don’t you think (circle “yes,” “no,” or “I’ll give you my answer before noon tomorrow”)?
The only two items in clear focus on the photo above are the conductor and the score. With those in place there can be harmony among the nine performers. In this particular scene the original music was written 330 years ago; a good composition lasts across generations of singers and listeners. With training and a little rehearsal, all nine performers can sing with confidence… and joy. The process applies equally well to the way we choose to live the rest of our lives. With an evolving financial plan, an experienced financial advisor, and maybe a coordinated team of trained financial professionals, you and your family for generations to come can follow with confidence the harmony you arrange, rehearse, and enjoy as your own financial composition. This is a learning experience. And it is a living experience. Try it… you’ll like it.
“We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it,” sounds like an excuse not to make a plan, especially when we can now obtain a FasTrak toll tag before setting out on a trip. Before bridges we had to go with the flow of a river or a canal to connect events in our lives. Our roads and railroads need bridges. Bridges can make an island part of a city. Bridges are both connections and hindrances. Bridges are indispensable to travel and a challenge at rush hours. There are other “bridges” in our lives: getting through college, marriage, making a home, changing careers, reaching retirement, and leaving this world for whatever comes next. There are no FasTrak toll tags for these bridges, other than inviting someone who knows a lot about bridges to help us with our plans to get through them… and to pay the tolls along the way. An experienced financial planner can brighten prospects and smooth the journey.
If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you have arrived? The trip could be over when you run out of fuel… or when your money runs out. It might last longer and be more fun if you were to do more planning before you leave. There are basic questions: what to pack, what kind of food is available, can you speak the language, what help is available if something goes wrong. What if you make your trip last a lifetime? It would be smart to talk with someone who has been there and done that, don’t you think? In any event, all best wishes for a safe and fulfilling journey, especially if safe and fulfilling are your goals.
PS: We’re talking about your life here… engage a wise financial advisor and the sky’s the limit.
Whatever you aspire to is happening beyond the hills. Pretend you are the bird and are looking at the other side; describe what you see yourself doing there, to include family, career, home, and recreation. The river can carry you most of the way to this ideal place: what do you need before you can start? What do you need to take with you? What do you need along the way? How long will it take to reach the hills? The hills represent a few major obstacles that keep you from completing your trip: describe the obstacles and then describe how you intend to get past them.
Locate a pen and paper for taking notes as you build your map. Jot down items or questions that come to mind as you re-read the text above, then go back and fill in a few details for each item or question. If it becomes a fun project, go back yet again and fill in a third level of details. If you are excited by the challenge, decide if you could use some help planning the trip; if so, you will have a map to share with someone you trust.