The Act of Giving
“Giving is not just about a donation, it’s about making a difference.” – Kathy Calvin
The idea of giving is a noble one, but often misconstrued when we initiate our talks with our clients. When talking about estate planning the first thought runs to fiscal giving. People that have the ability and means tend to give to their family, community, their charity of choice, or their place of worship.
As much as these groups love your financial resources to operate, is this really all you have to give?
You’ve lived a life full of trials and tribulations. Your experience, your life lessons, your values are just as important, if not more important than handing down money.
After all, why are we on this planet?
To pass money down the pipeline to your heirs and charities, or to improve the outcomes of those who come after us?
Instead of this being a cold, dark conversation wrapped around, “What happens when I pass?”, we want to flip the script and ask, “what can I do to prepare my loved ones for my passing to live intentionally on my terms?”
These thoughts usually start to conjure up when someone has been diagnosed with cancer and knows their days are numbered. Or, it happens in an instant when the world stops for a loved one who has died. What seems important in the rat race that is life quickly fades away and what’s important comes into focus. As we quoted in our last post,
“Death is life’s change agent.” – Steve Jobs
Why wait to pass onto others your values under a short timeline, or be forced to reflect when someone’s life actually stops? Why wait until there is urgency to share your thoughts and feelings of the meaning of life?
From us at Lifeworks, think about what you can give your kids or your grandkids, family and friends on a consistent basis to impact their lives for the better today. Your thoughts and experiences have built up over time, and now you have limited time to share.
Try viewing your giving just as you view your financial and investment plans. It’s a living, breathing, changing assemblage of what you have to give.
And while you’re at it, here’s some helpful tips:
- Recalibrate it year to year.
- Construct a plan of time, energy, and money just like a budget for your finances.
- Put together a table (similar to our cash flow planning worksheet) and allot time and energy to a few causes, organizations, and people.
- Use your time to maximize your impact throughout the year.
- Dial in strategically your plan to give, week to week, month to month, year to year.
- None of this is possible if you never let yourself slow down. Really put thought into how you’re living with perspective check-ins. If you never slow down, you’ll likely arrive at your destination alone.
“Every man seems to feel that he has got the duties of two lifetimes to accomplish in one, and so he rushes, rushes, rushes, and never has time to be companionable—never has any time at his disposal to fool away on matters which do not involve dollars and duty and business” – Mark Twain
Where does this leave us? To start, consider any of these:
- Instead of focusing on filling up a 529 and giving your kids a free ride to college, think of how you can fully prepare your kids for adulthood with wisdom, purpose, and moral clarity.
- Intentionally talk to your grandkids several times per year to show them values and life lessons through storytelling.
- Take time to write that love letter to your wife that’s 20 years overdue.
- Make it a point to reach out to those who have shaped you into who you are today and thank them for their impact on your journey.
- Get back to nature and back to square with your family. Disconnect from all the distractions and be present to talk about life, laugh, and cry (a full day!)
- Reach out to your friend who came to you in a time of need and tell them how much it meant to you.
- Sure, write a check to your church or school, but maybe you could also volunteer to offer some perspective on necessitating a positive change.
Your estate planning attorney and your advisors at Lifeworks will help you with your trust, will, and estate. We ask that you focus on what matters most, live intentionally, and make a plan to use your time to give on your terms! Change your perspective as to what you want to accomplish today instead of what you want to give when you have stepped your last step on this earth. Each moment will have more meaning, more gravitas, and you, along with those around you, will be more enriched because of it.
Lifeworks is a registered investment advisor