Does It Matter?

By Eric Kies, CFP®

Will it matter five minutes after you’re gone?

I was at a workshop at church a few weekends ago, and one of the breakout sessions was led by a life coach.  As he worked through his presentation, he asked a question to help us get focused on the material he was presenting and various areas of our life – “will it matter five minutes after you are gone?”  I’ve seen different versions of this over the years, but for some reason this really stuck with me this time.  Perhaps it was the simplicity of the question, perhaps it is because I’ve been reflecting a lot on my life and how I want to invest the rest of my working career to have as much impact as possible.  Regardless, that question has been in the back of my mind for the past few weeks now.

What matters?

Years ago, we were conducting some due diligence on various pieces of planning software.  In our work with clients, we can do a lot of things in preparation and follow up, and a lot of it can be extremely time intensive.  During one of the discussions, Marty Kurtz made a statement that I have held onto years later.  He asked, “what matters?”  Marty was asking a very meaningful question – what really matters to the client?  What is on their minds?  What are their needs and concerns? Regardless of what the planning software did or didn’t do, was it able to simply and efficiently help answer the questions that mattered to clients.

Fast forward a few years (okay, more than a few now!), and I’m 45 years old.  The constant demands on my life never seem to cease.  I’m diligent about protecting my time, and my family’s time, as the outside world continues to impose its demands upon us.  If I had told myself at 25, that I’d be this busy, even after being vigilant, I don’t think I would have been able envision it.  I recently read the book Essentialism by Greg McKeown.  In one section, he discusses the power of extreme criteria.  It’s a filtering technique to weed out all the maybes that come up in life.  Essentially, if you can’t rank something a nine or ten out of ten, it needs to be cut.  What a great way to view projects at work, home, and each commitment in your life.  The life coach I mentioned earlier and his question, will it matter five minutes after I’m gone…  Well that takes it to the next level, that is truly extreme criteria to use as a filter.

Allocating your time, talents, energy and money

A few years back, I heard a pastor friend of mine say “show me your calendar, and show me your checkbook, and I’ll show you what you value.”  It was another nugget that I’ve held onto.  There are four resources that any of us really have to invest – time, energy, talents and money.  Your calendar, and checkbook are the daily logs of how you are investing these four resources.  The financial planning question is – how are you allocating these, and are you allocating them to what matters to you?

If you used the technique of extreme criteria, and asked “will it matter five minutes after I’m gone”, what commitments would you keep, what would you purge?

Review your list of commitments, review your calendar, and review your spending plan (hopefully you are using First Step Cash Management!).  Ask yourself, will it matter?  If so, fantastic.  If not, how could you allocate your time, talents, energy and money towards what does.  I’d invite you to come in and discuss this with your planner.

Let’s have the conversations that matter.

Eric Kies, CFP® is a Financial Planner in the Quad Cities office of The Planning Center, a fee-only financial planning and wealth management firm.

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