Figure Out What's Next

3 Questions That Could Change Your Life

career change jeremy koch purposeful living Mar 30, 2010
woman with calendar

by Jeremy Koch

photo by Anete

At a certain age, many of us start to grapple with some tough questions about our future, and we start to focus more attention on the issue of what is truly important to us and what we want to accomplish with the rest of our lives.  A few years ago I read a book by Lee Eisenberg called "The Number," in which he focused on the issue of what it means to be financially independent. As he explored this issue from various angles, Eisenberg devoted a section of the book to a man named George Kinder, who developed the concept of "Life Planning" and established an institute to train others in the discipline. In simple terms, Life Planning is a more holistic approach to conventional financial planning and is designed to help people create a life plan that addresses not only their financial needs, but their personal, emotional and spiritual needs as well.

As a warm-up exercise for getting his clients prepared to discuss their personal life goals, Kinder asks his clients to consider three questions, which are striking in their simplicity and for the thought process that they stimulate.

Here are Kinder's three questions:

Question 1.  Imagine you are financially secure, that you have enough money to take care of yourself and your needs, now and in the future. How would you live your life? Would you change anything?

Question 2. Now imagine that you visit your doctor, who tells you that you have only five to 10 years to live. You won't ever feel sick, but you will have no notice of the moment of your death. What will you do in the time you have remaining? Will you change your life-and how will you do it?

Question 3. Finally, imagine that your doctor shocks you with the news that you only have 24 hours to live. What feelings arise as you confront your mortality? Ask yourself: What did you miss? Who did you not get to be? What did you not get to do?

Kinder's questions can be a very useful touchstone when facing major life decisions.  By revisiting your personal priorities in the context of your answers to these questions, it is hard not to develop a more thoughtful and holistic perspective on the challenges you are confronted with. 

Since establishing the Kinder Institute, George Kinder has trained almost 1,000 financial advisors to broaden the scope of their work to include to the concept of life planning. These planners now operate in four continents around the world and carry the credential RLP (Registered Life Planner) in addition to being CFPs (Certified Financial Planner). If you are interested in working with an RLP, you can find some via the Kinder Institute.


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