Making Your Mark

The work is almost done. You’ve accumulated a nest egg that will assure the retirement lifestyle you planned for. The golf course beckons, as does that year-long world cruise. 

You are happy – or are you? 

I like to focus on the positive, but we need to address a disturbing trend – traditional retirement often fosters decay and depression. 

The problem is simple. Human beings are goal oriented and hard-wired to help others. Self-worth and identity are crafted through those future plans which bring clarity and focus to our daily lives and value to our community.  

In his book, “Man’s Search for Meaning”, Viktor Frankl describes the difference in both mental states and physical longevity amongst concentration camp prisoners during WW II. Those who regularly verbalized hopes, dreams and positive scenarios were physically hardier and displayed lower levels of depression and hopelessness than those fellow prisoners who “could not see a tomorrow”.  

Those who dedicate themselves to helping others end up living more fulfilled lives themselves. 

One of the privileges of financial success is the ability to leverage your time, talent and treasure to make a difference in the lives of others.  

Here are some thoughts we could be addressing as we set off on this journey to “pay it forward”: 

  1. How many years do you think you have left? You can’t do good unless you keep physically and mentally fit. 
  2. What have you done to financially insure those years? That way, if you run out of contributing years before you have fulfilled your vision; your work will not perish when you do.  
  3. What lessons have you learned from the role models and mentors who shaped your own character and subsequent success in life? We all stand on the shoulders of giants and perhaps you can duplicate or magnify their efforts in making a mark in the world. Perhaps the lessons you have learned could spark entirely new value that the world has not even seen yet.
  4. What are some things we could do to make small daily differences rather than a massive difference?
  5. What charity or cause do you admire the most? How can your experience and social network help secure their work for generations to come?   
  6. What do you feel is the greatest good that can come from your own wealth? Work this into your retirement and estate plan. 
  7. What’s your legacy? What will you have accomplished at a local level through your volunteerism or financial influence? 
  8. What plans have you made to pass along your wisdom? Which community leadership group could use you as a mentor or to serve on their board? 
  9. What treasured experience could you give to lift the spirits of someone in need? 
  10. What portion of your estate would you like to dedicate to your favoured causes? Have you consulted the appropriate specialists to tax-effectively secure that legacy?

There is a lot we can do, regardless of our financial means but most impactful pursuits do not happen by accident. The difference we make in the future is absolutely determined by the action we begin taking today.

What are the first small steps you could take today to begin making your mark?