The Magic of the Rocky Mountains Reminds me of Long-Lasting Families

One of the standout photos of my family’s 70,000+ photo collection is of the Teton Range in the Rocky Mountains.  The Rocky Mountains stretches from British Columbia and Alberta, Canada, passes through Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado as it comes to an end in New Mexico. That is over 3, 000 miles, or just a little longer than taking Interstate 80 across the US (from San Francisco, California to Teaneck, New Jersey). The Teton Range extends for about 40 miles through Wyoming.

To me, the Rockies represent the boldness of the past, that which has already been, unabashedly on display, piercing the landscape with its grandeur. But that is not all. This beautiful mountain range also embodies a sense of steadfastness in the present, providing life in its dense forests and rocky slopes, thriving with animal, vegetation, and minerals, providing experiences for hikers and adventurers, researchers, and sightseers. And that’s still not all. This photo of the Tetons, taken as the sun quietly and brilliantly rises over the peaks, also gives me a sense of hope and wonder about what is still to come. It beckons me to consider the future.  

In this one picture, I appreciate the past for all the tools it has provided me to succeed, retool or leave behind. In this one picture, I appreciate the present with its call to appropriately respect, impact, and influence the fleeting fierceness of today. In this one picture, I hold a powerful belief in the future’s stewards, that they will use lessons from the past, discover new tools and commit to sustaining, building, and impacting from what they have been given, that which we pass on to them with love and wisdom. Together the past, present, and future cohabitate, with neither looking to overpower the other.

This is the majesty I also find in families who commit themselves to staying purposefully connected, as a family, for generations. The past, the present and the future live in harmony and respect of one another. That is magic.

Do You Turn Back or Continue When the Mind Intervenes

I have a question for you. But first, let me set up the framework for the question.

You have given yourself an objective to swim across the ocean. Nobody is demanding you to do it. It is something you want or think you want to do.  Along with your those who are casually encouraging you are those who question both the “need” to perform this endeavor and your motivation. They certainly have no intention of swimming across the ocean and don’t “get” your focus on such an intention.  After all, it is expected to take 6-8 months. How will you survive?

In your preparation, you, too, have concluded that swimming across the ocean was not something you could do unaided. You have recalibrated your objective to a swim across the Adriatic Sea, about 140 miles and doable in just over 2 days. It was done by Croatian Swimmer, Velijko Rogosic in August of 2006. I understand that he still holds the record for the longest unaided swim, in open waters. Now it’s your turn.

Your day comes to start the swim. You have vigorously prepared for this. Your initial strokes are witnessed by supporters and detractors. You are ready. As the hours tick by, your mind stays strong. Your body stays fit. 

About 40 miles into your swim, you decide to take a break. So, you paddle in the water, catch your breath, and take the sounds and sights in. It’s a beautiful clear and sunny day. You picked the right time to attempt this swim. You feel proud of what you have accomplished so far but there is a nagging thought that has seeped into you mind and won’t let go. “let’s go home.” It suggested and now is on the verge of demanding. Suddenly you are asking yourself if you can make it to the other shore, whether sharks or other predators will come after you, whether you have enough “fuel in the tank” to complete this task. Only one other person has done this swim. You are alone. Your supporters are immersed in their own lives, and your detractors are now positioned in your head. 

What will you do? Swimming back has its own challenges. What do you say to your supporters, your detractors, yourself?  You will be returning to the routine you were trying to somehow break away from. You may find yourself with new frustrations to add to those that were part of your life before your motivation fueled this objective and now doubting. You feel your body as well as your resolve weaken. 

Continuing to swim across this sea has its challenges You don’t know if you will make it. You don’t know what obstacles you still need to overcome as your body weakens. There is a battle going on in your head.

What do you do and why? How do you feel about your decision? How will you use the insights, discoveries, and learnings you experienced to embolden your life?

Let me know, I would love to hear about your decision.

When Retirement Beckons, Your Why Will Set You Free

I know more and more people who are nearing retirement. Unlike the pictures for the ads which show retirees having the time of their life, these people are frightened about what lays ahead. Instead of sensing excitement and looking forward to what lays ahead, they fear their upcoming lack of schedules, commitments, and lack of purpose. For them, retirement looks like a large, bottomless pit into which they are about to fall. 

Yes, they know they will do some traveling, get that bucket list taken care of and catch up on activities they didn’t previously have time for but for the most part, they are dreading their retirement. The loss of community is frightening, and the loss of relevancy is unacceptable.

Even with these looming fears, most retirees casually walk into their retirement without a plan or preparation beyond the dollars and cents to exhaust. Then, because very little has been prepared beyond the initial activities, they settle into mindless routines. According to Shell Oil and University of Zurich, who have studied the effects of retirement on their own retirees, within 18 months of retiring, those who were uber excited feel isolated. Those fearing retirement have their fears about their irrelevancy confirmed.

Without knowing what you want in your retirement, you are more likely to drift once your initial retirement phase has run its course. It’s natural. It’s common. Studies have confirmed this.

If you want to find relevance, significand and meaning in your retirement life, there are tools and systems to help give your life meaning and purpose in retirement.Uncover your “why” that which is found in your beliefs. Build your purpose. Support it with your “how”, which is your mission. And activate it with your “what”, those actions and intended outcomes that will bring your satisfaction.

When you live your retirement as a mission rather than a pause before the end, you will feel a life fire up within you. You will be in your relevance, significance, and meaning.  Instead of retreating into irrelevancy you will find satisfaction and personal significance. 

As one of our clients said: “The process you have, Bhaj, gave me the key to what was missing. My feelings of isolation and irrelevancy are gone. I feel significant and valuable again. I amconnected to life for life.”

Contact us to gain the feeling of purpose and meaning for your retirement.

Money Conversations Are Best when …

Have you ever wondered why your spouse or partner is not on the same page with you when it comes to money conversations?

Do you avoid money conversations because they break down before they even begin?

Do money conversations dissolve into personal attacks or innuendos?

Is it hard to stay on a money topic due to anxiety about hurting someone’s feelings about their money behaviors?

It’s not easy to talk about money when you have widely different opinions on money topics. What can you do to find common ground and respect for each other’s thoughts again?

You can use the three tools essential to effective money conversations:

  • Utilize empathetic listening
  • Stay on topic
  • Build a path of unified purpose to your money, both shared and individual

Instead of escalating into personal outbreaks, your conversations derive more gratifying outcomes when you build upon the shared purpose you have identified together.   Doing so will create an oasis of understanding in money topics, behaviors, and habits.

Money is best served when it becomes just another topic rather than avoided in our own life or in the life with our partner and family.

Tips to Becoming a Confident Money Steward

Money is easy to use, yet, often, difficult to build sustainable and productive habits around that strengthen our lives with money.

Money is a familiar commodity. It is something we use just about every day. Money is constantly in motion around us, affecting us in oblique and in obvious ways. And usually, we transact without seeing that money leave our hands. More is spent with credit cards than with cash.

Many people use their bank statements as a tracking system for their money. Bank statements only show you what has already been spent but give you no means to change your spending habits. Many apps merely track spending habits. They don’t incorporate a learning tool on how to look at these numbers.

Does it matter? It depends.  Let me digress for a moment and consider food to as an analogy. Food can be so tasty. With continued overindulgence, this tasty experience can jeopardize our health. I could have a diet of warm chocolate chip cookies or melting vanilla bean ice cream or a white cake with a rich frosting.

 If we don’t care about taking care of our body, it doesn’t matter what we put in it. You will still be able to get through the day. But, as we age, we are likely to experience the effects of casual attention to our physical body.

Like that, with money, if you are casual about it, consequences will manifest, such as when you need to pay for a new appliance, a new car, a repair on the house, or later in life, in what you have for retirement. You won’t have it when you need it. And, of course, a concern emerges when you consider the behaviors your children are around, daily. What are they picking up from you, their role models?

Find a money tracker where you can view your trends. This will give you a framework from which to adjust your habits with money.

Set budgets for your financial categories of spending. This will give you the framework to measure your finances with purpose.

Integrate your behaviors and habits with your money goals. When you model productive behaviors to direct your habits and behaviors to your goals, you will become a money steward.

When You Properly Initiate This Subject, You Honor Your Family

It never seems like the right time to talk about…death. Yet it never seems like the wrong time to talk about death. Death, as a subject, is just that, merely another subject. But we don’t treat it that way. There are so many emotions that surround it.

What about death, makes it such a sensitive subject? Some don’t want to talk about the inevitable when they are still enjoying or building their own life. Some may think you are trying to kill them off so you can inherit their money or their things. For others, talking about death is like a curse being brought to light.  And for some, it’s an awkward subject to bring up, almost like exposing a taboo.  And yet, there are also those who can respectfully talk about death. How does talking about it, respectfully, make a difference?

Talking about death has made it easier for families to grieve, to fondly remember and even to settle estates with less rancor. Family members who have organized their personal property and then communicated their intentions about their personal property to their family members, have often created a stronger bond of trust among them.

I have heard countless stories of families torn apart as they fought over who was entitled to what. When intentions and wishes were left unspoken, to be revealed at the reading of the will, has left many families torn apart and grappling with gnawing suspicious questions and assumptions. In these many instance, death has created another wedge, a wedge of division, suspicion and even broken trust.

Instead, when families can talk about death and the passing of personal property, assets and things in a way that keep families harmonious, families can stay intact. But how does one go about organizing their affairs and not create tension?

By talking to your family about your intentions and your things, asking members to not only identify what they want, but also asking them the “why” behind their selections, is a good start. But sometimes multiple people want the same thing. Then what? There are different tactics to consider here. You might bring the members who want the same property to talk about it to you with the other person there so they can determine, for themselves, which of them gets what. You might ask them to prioritize the personal property they both want. You might ask them which they would give up so the other person could get their choice. You might select one member to pick first, and the other member to pick second and third of items they both want. There are many ways to successfully resolve this sensitive topic of choice. Contact me if you need assistance on this.  

There is a booklet, Making It Easier for My Loved Ones, on Amazon, which you can order and use as your Organizer. It catalogs so much of what is needed to be dealt with after you pass.  Passwords, location of bank accounts, names of key people who should be notified of your passing, instructions on the care of your pets, credit card information, debts owed, financial and legal advisors, location of key documents and certificates, who is to receive which pieces of jewelry, art, books, cremation, or burial. You have it all here. And you can change anything at any time.  

As you share this information and booklet with your family, you might find that this adds to the powerful connection your family have. It can enhance your harmony as you and your family respectfully venture into a topic so many people avoid.

When you make it easier for your loved ones, you are helping them remember and honor you the way you want for what is significant/relevant to you.

Trust is a Beautiful Thing

Trust makes the choppy waters smooth in the river of life.  Trust is the passport to connection. Trust is a fundamental element to life, yet we rarely talk about it until our personal sense of trust has been breached. And even then, we talk about the deed rather than trust.

What are the elements of trust you use to navigate the river of life, include in your passport to connection and have as a foundational element to your life? Think about what it takes to break or what it takes for you to withdraw trust. What does it take to rebuild your trust so you feel honored and respected?

It is important to consider the recipe to your trust so that you can know when to extend it to another or when to hold it back, to safeguard it and yourself.

Trust is a beautiful thing. Treat it with the respect it deserves, and it will help you in making decisions you need to make.

Adults and Andragogical Learning

Broadly speaking, adults learn differently than children. While children learn by pedagogy or “teaching”, adults prefer andragogy or “learning.” Adults prefer to experience or learn for themselves rather than being taught. 

In families with family businesses, this distinction is essential to remember because involving family members in the business can be challenging. How we learn and how we “teach”, with adults and within families, involves trust.  

Trust within a family is paramount to keep the family connected across generations. Trust in a family business is crucial to a family business’s long-term success.

As a family busines owner, do you tell your adult children what to do? Do you inhibit or even worse, quickly reject their ideas? Do you inform them about how the company will be run?

Your children may always be children in your mind, but in the family business, they (hopefully) have appeared as motivated and capable adults, eager to impact and influence the business they know so much about, having grown up with it.

You can build the bridge of a successful transition from generation to generation, you can build the bridge of high-level synergistic communication with an andragogical approach to learning. 

The Power within our Values is Mighty

Victor Frankl a renown Holocaust survivor, psychiatrist and world-famous author of Mans’ Search for Meaning, discovered the following: “Unless life points to something beyond itself, survival is pointless and meaningless. It is not even possible. This is the very lesson I learned in three years spent in Auschwitz and Dachau, and in the meantime, it has been confirmed by psychiatrists in prisoner-of-war-camps; Only those who were oriented toward the future, toward a goal in the future, toward a meaning to fulfill in the future, were likely to survive.” This powerful statement, which I condense to “Purpose”, is a fantastic guide to what works in life.

And what is purpose? For many it is their reason for doing things while for others, they view it as their mission in life.

And what does a reason or mission refer to? Each points back and forward to our values, those core identifiers that we use as our compass in life. Our values let us know when we are congruent with life. Sometimes we may betray, discard, or avoid our values and let our moment-to-moment self-guide us by reactions and desires. And we know when we are “off” as our emotions contradict or overpower our values. Feeling “off balance” is feeling out of alignment with our values.

Our values, once we identify and reveal them, can become the wind to our sail, the music to our soul, the taste that satisfies our hunger because we are now living the life of intention. That is power.

Your Purpose is your Rock

What is purpose? Purpose is a demonstration of your commitment to life. Whoa, that’s a potent sentence.

Purpose is so important that without it, we tend to drift, we withdraw, we question inappropriately, we interfere, we seek to control or to be dominated.

Purpose keeps you on your path.

Is uncovering or finding your purpose easy? It wasn’t for me, although I knew, early, that I had something to do or fulfill. I found myself dreaming, creating, observing, asking what this was all about. I sought activities where I could grow, could measure progress, and could experience success. But in my heart, I knew even all this wasn’t quite right.

I left home with a conscientious intent to find what were best practices, best conducts, best behaviors for family members to emulate, in families that struggled for a real connection, not one focused on the money. I didn’t know what I was doing but I was pulled in a direction that would eventually be revealed to me, in simple profundity.

Elements to purpose include responsibility, steadfastness, and loyalty. And these qualities require trust that the qualities will benefit you. These qualities require an openness to accept what is truly best and discard the res. These qualities require the humility that allows you to discern the appropriate from the inappropriate and act with the appropriate.  

The world is loud and ironically, there is that quiet voice inside which, when we listen to it, can guide us to express our purpose. That voice isn’t like the loud voice which is constantly talking to us or turned over to its substitutes, the videos we mindlessly watch. That voice is powerful, adamant, intentional, personal, and wise. It discerns and separates the mighty from the harmful, the supportive from the hurtful. It speaks to you. Do you listen? Do you follow its guidance?

Purpose is powerful. Purpose is the rock for you to stand on and trust in its aim, its objective and its power for you.