The Importance of Having a Clear and Specific Purpose
“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows that it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning, a lion wakes up. It knows that it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the lion or the gazelle – when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.” – Author Unknown
So, to be clear, the story is not just about running. It’s about something far more important. The story underscores the importance of having a clear and specific “purpose” that you will focus on at the beginning of every day. Both the lion and gazelle start each day with a clear and specific purpose. Do you? Do you know what you need to do each day that will move you and your organization closer to your goals? Or, do you start each day dealing with whatever comes first whether it’s important or not? Are you prone to activity just to convince yourself that you are busy or is your activity directed towards the achievement of your purpose? Be honest with yourself.
When you lack a clear and specific purpose, you leave yourself open to any one of the following scenarios:
- You start the day slow, stay slow and so does everyone around you. Nothing gets done.
- You start the day with a less than acceptable attitude and no enthusiasm whatsoever. You are unhappy and easily frustrated with the smallest problems. You end the day the same way you started it and bring it all back with you the very next day.
- You waste time and money, accomplish very little and end the day exhausted with little to show for the time you were “working”.
- You position yourself to be a victim of your circumstances and give up being a master of them. You attract others who are also victims. They add to your misery!
There is nothing more powerful to your workday and your business than knowing your purpose and executing it in an efficient and effective manner. Knowing and acting upon your purpose will not only excite you but everyone with whom you have contact. So, like the story, “when the sun comes up, start running,” know and act upon your purpose!
Retirement Planning Has Its Limits: How to Prepare
Retirement planning is one of the issues that commonly leads clients to consult financial advisers. One of its essential aspects is creating a plan to save and invest in order to provide a comfortable retirement income. Ideally, this starts many years ahead of retirement, even as early as your first paycheck.
As retirement comes closer, planning for it expands to take in a host of other considerations, such as deciding when to retire, where to live, and what kind of lifestyle you hope to have. When retirement becomes a reality, the focus shifts to carrying out the plan.
All of this planning is crucial. Yet, for both financial advisers and clients, it's good to keep in mind that planning has its limits. In the post-retirement years, it may be helpful to think in terms of preparing for old age rather than planning for it.
The older we get, the more important this distinction between planning and preparing becomes. Too many life-changing things can happen without regard to our best-laid plans. Often they occur unexpectedly, resulting in emergency situations where urgent decisions have to be made. A stroke or a fall, a diagnosis of terminal illness, a broken hip that leaves someone unable to go back to independent living—and suddenly, right now, the family needs to find an assisted living facility, arrange for live-in help, or sell a home.
What are some of the ways to prepare for these contingencies?
- Explore housing options well ahead of time. Find out what assisted living, home care, and nursing home services and facilities are available where you live and whether they have waiting lists. Have family conversations about possibilities like relocating or sharing households.
- Research the financial side of these options. Investigate the cost of hiring help at home, assisted living facilities, and nursing care centers. Find out what is and is not covered by Medicare and long-term care insurance. For example, people are sometimes surprised to learn that Medicare does not pay for nursing home care other than short-term medical stays.
- Designate someone to take over decision-making, and do the paperwork. Execute documents like a living will, medical power of attorney, and contingent power of attorney. Update them as necessary, and give copies to your doctors, your financial planner, and appropriate family members.
- Start relatively early to downsize. Well before you're ready to let go of possessions or move into smaller housing, start considering what to do with your "stuff." Focus on the decisions rather than the distribution. There's no need to get rid of possessions prematurely, but decide what you want to do with them—and put in writing. Do this while it's still your choice, rather than something your family members do while you're in the hospital or nursing home
- Do your best to practice flexibility and acceptance. No matter how strongly you want to live in your own home until the end of your life, for example, it may not be possible. The physical limitations of aging can limit our choices, and even the best options available may not be what we would like them to be. It is a profound gift to yourself and your family members to accept these realities with as much grace as you can muster.
Finally, please don't underestimate the importance of planning financially for retirement. Because the bottom line is that you can't plan for all the things that might happen as you age, but you can prepare to deal with them. One of the most useful tools to cope with those contingencies is having enough money.
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