Three Questions That Could Change Your Life

by Jeremy Koch

With all the turmoil in the economy, many of us grappling with some very tough questions about our near-term and long-term future. This situation has reminded me of a book by Lee Eisenberg that I read a few years back called “The Number,” in which he focused on the whole notion 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 (and his trained disciples) ask their 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 1Imagine 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 3Finally, 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?

     Over the years, Kinder’s questions have been a useful touchstone for me when facing major life decisions. Inevitably, I have found that revisiting my personal priorities in the context of my answers to these questions has led to a more thoughtful perspective on whatever issue it is that I am confronting. And I’d be surprised if you don’t find that the same is true for you.

    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, several are listed in What’s Next Directory of Financial Planners. Additional listings can be found at the website of the Kinder Institute.

Jeremy Koch

Founder, What's Next Media


by Jeremy Koch | Friday, June 26, 2009 | Career Change, Career Change, Purposeful Living

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