Thursday, May 23, 2019

Paying Attention to Our Reflectors

The reflectors on farm equipment provide better visibility when machinery is travelling on roads at night.  That’s a fact. Everyone wants to be made aware of the potential danger.  Without these important safety devices we may not see what lies ahead of us when we travel. 

When I spotted the reflectors on the air drill, my mind drifted to the reflectors in our lives.  Our professional advisors prepare us for the dangers we could encounter when we don’t pay attention to potential hazards.  They know the damage certain incidents would cause to our livelihoods and businesses.

Strong relationships are built on trust and honesty. Any recommendations from an advisor should be welcomed, encouraged, and assessed.  We would never want a member of our team to be anything less than honest because they are afraid of our reaction. 

Sometimes, personalities are known to clash. Some advisors willingly take the heat from their clients for their opinions. Both know that an honest opinion is part of being highly respected and valued.  As professionals they willingly take the risk.  They may witness similar situations with adverse consequences when the appropriate action is not taken. Initially, the truth may not be well received.  The conversation may revolve around taking on more debt than we are capable of financially managing, procrastinating about writing our wills, making time to put insurance in place before something happens to us, or pointing out the fact we are overspending.  Many critical and dire situations require hand holding and a firm I’m-saying-this-is-important so take my recommendations seriously. 

Are you aware of the reflectors in your life?  Do your consultants willingly straight-out tell you the truth, point out the potential dangers, and hold nothing back? 

Simply taking control of our situation ensures we control the outcome. We flippantly say we can’t control everything but we certainly can control the important matters.  

Think of your most trusted and valued advisors and assess your relationships.  Do you listen and follow their advice or do you tend to brush it off and say, “We’ll get to it someday”? 

Perhaps we need to create a “Someday List” so we don’t forget these promises to ourselves, family and advisors. The important condition attached to our “Someday” list is the need for a deadline so “it” gets done.  Misleading ourselves, or for that matter misleading others, is a dangerous strategy; something important, like drafting or revising a will, cannot be postponed indefinitely.

Time passes quicker than we realize.  Soon another year has lapsed; five, ten, maybe twenty years later, things on the list have been not addressed. We laugh when our wills still have guardians for our thirty-something-year-old children. Quite often the reason is a “scheduling” problem.  We don’t pencil these essential appointments in our calendar.  

When other fleeting activities derail our best intentions, here’s where we must become intentional.  We have to turn our “Someday” into sooner rather later. Next week! This month! Assign a date and a time to your “someday” tasks.

So let’s pay attention to the reflectors in our lives. They’re visible for good reason.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

What Matters Most

We’ve walked down that hallway of the nursing home countless times before but this past week apprehension seemed to walk in step with us.  On Sunday we weren’t certain what we would encounter when we arrived at my mother-in-law’s room but we knew the order, “Come now”, was urgent.

Often in my writings for Money Matters and So Do Your Dreams I speak about pursuing and achieving your dreams.  I fail to talk about the ideal dream.  You simply can’t attach a value to a loving and respectful bond with someone. We loosely toss about the time value of money (TVM) saying its value at the present time will be worth more in the future because of its potential earning capacity.  Imagine the time value of relationships. Through ups and downs, trials and tribulations, celebrations and challenges, relationships will also be worth more in the future because of their earning capacity from the support, encouragement, and love of others. Truly over the years, we can build wealth in terms of money and other assets, yet we should never underestimate the wealth we can and should build with others.

When we visit an elderly person at a care home, we will quickly notice the limited items they have in their room.  Their clothing, some furniture, perhaps a television or radio are a few things they may own…but it’s all they want because their other essential requirements, such a lodging, meals and medical needs, are being met.

When we look closer, one quick glance at their bulletin board puts their life in a clearer perspective. When we see pictures of them with their family and friends we know they are loved and respected.  We can’t put a price tag on these close relations.

My mother-in-law is the Queen of Love and Respect. These qualities are built into her DNA.  She always was the peacemaker…agreeable, loving, and supportive.  Her answer to everything, even today, is “Okay”.  

How are you? “Okay.”
Do you want some apple juice? “Okay.”
I am leaving now. “Okay.”

“Okay” is my mother-in-law’s philosophy.  A close cousin to “Okay” is “Content”. One wouldn’t think there are any similarities between the two but they speak volumes. “I’m okay with my world; I accept my circumstances.”  No further explanation is required.

Over the past three years, the flexibility in my career has allowed me to spend more time with my mother-in-law.  Now as we hang out in the “I-don’t-know” moment, we have no idea when her journey will end any more than we know when ours will end. The one comfort, however, is knowing we have a special bond.

In the last number of blog posts, the focus has been on preparing the right documents so when you exit this world you have all your paper work in order. But we haven’t discussed the questions: “Are your relationships in order?  Have you made peace with the people you need to make peace with?”

I know people who have put their affairs in order.  Because someone willingly apologized, he passed away knowing his severed friendship had been repaired. In another situation, someone chose to focus on the good qualities of the dying person rather than allow other factors to taint their value as a person.  Words of appreciation were spoken while they still had the chance.

Now it's your turn. Do you have any relationships you would like to change or any damaged ones you would like to mend?  You are encouraged to do so while you have the time to rid yourself of any regrets.