I will be walking boldly into a room of my classmates in a few weeks; most of whom I haven't seen or heard from in forty years! But really-what's changed? How about everything from my age, experience, world view and hopefully a more mature way of handling myself and those around me. Since walking out of the very safe confines of West Orange Mountain High School back in 1972, I have made a lifetime of choices; choices that have led me to where I am today and more importantly-who I am today. Some might agree with Gene Moore who said, "People don't change. Only their costumes do." I tend more to agree with Bruce Barton's comment, "When you are through changing, you are through."
In the course of the last forty years, I have changed costumes many times, but I have also looked deeply to examine, for lack of a better term, more interior questions. They are big questions, such as:
Why do I think that way?
Why do I act that way?
Could I have done that better and how?
What do I need to learn for the next chapter of my life?
What do I want to be when I grow up?
Why is it important to me?
Over the course of the last forty years, I have moved from musician to accountant to financial services representative to financial planner to financial life planner to teacher to speaker to business owner to author. Each chapter requiring different skill sets, choices and determination or as Dick Zalack, founder of the Focus Four coaching program called it, K.A.S.H. Knowledge-Attitude-Skills and Habits. Each change brought me to learn valuable lessons, highlighting what I didn't know and figuring out what I needed to know to master that new venture.
You might be wondering why I am writing this in a column about money and your financial life. The answer is simple-the same lessons apply. We are all faced with a "next" and we must determine how to navigate the path from here to there. The chances are that path will be strewn with potholes, debris and hazards. Look back at your path and consider what has gotten you to where you are and what lies ahead. Our money life is, for most, inextricably linked to our past; to the lessons we learned a children. We carry those habits and beliefs with us and act according to the scripts that have attached to our thinking like Remoras on sharks. We need to examine them and decide whether they support our dreams or are obstacles that ensure disaster.
I will agree, partially, with Gene Moore about people changing. I am still the same person. But as Dr. Layne Longfellow stated so perfectly, "aging distills you to your essence." The a-ha moment. We are who we are, but the older we get, we, hopefully come closer to who we really are, after stripping away the costumes. We are more in touch with our values, more in touch with our emotions, more grateful for those in our lives we love and care about.
As you read these closing words, do a simple self-inventory. Ask yourself some essential questions:
Am I moving in the direction I truly want?
Am I living in harmony with my values?
Do I feel gratitude for those people in my life?
Do I try and bring my best every day?
What can I do to 'distill myself' back to my essence?
What do I want my next chapter to look like and what am I doing about it?
Do my money beliefs and habits support my dreams?
The choices we make become who we are. Making better choices allows us to live the life we desire and deserve. I wonder if anyone at the reunion will remember me? I wonder what exciting and wonderful experiences they have encountered in these last forty years and how they have changed. Stay tuned.