Personal Finance

Living Life By Design Begins With Perspective

The SpaceX Starship, the most powerful rocket ever to fly, exploded shortly after liftoff on April 20th. Despite the disappointing ending, the launch attempt of the uncrewed rocket was hailed as a success by both SpaceX and officials at NASA, as a key part of a test program that will provide valuable data as the spacecraft’s development continues.

Watching this remarkable launch, I was reminded of a recent experience my wife Jeanie and I had when we traveled to Houston to see the new space station being built. We learned how NASA is leading an innovative and sustainable program of exploration with commercial and international partners to enable human expansion across the solar system. These partnerships will play a critical role in the mission to land astronauts on the lunar South Pole by 2024.

While we were in Houston, we had the opportunity to speak with several astronauts about missions they had previously flown. One conversation with the commander of three shuttle missions really stood out. He talked about how profound it was to see the earth from afar, as just a small spec suspended in space. He was struck by both the fragility and magnificence of our planet, saying that the experience completely changes your perspective – you forget about all of the angst, conflicts and struggles taking place on the surface below.

That conversation reminded me of how important it is to step back from time to time to see the forest for the trees as we seek to gain greater perspective on our own lives. I practice meditation on a regular basis for this very purpose. I’ve always believed that a little bit of thinking is worth a lot of doing. Journaling or time spent connecting with nature are also great options. Whatever approach you take to gain perspective, know that doing so can help you to be more thoughtful and intentional in all aspects of your life. Begin by thinking about how you want to spend your remaining years on this earth, what you want to accomplish, what you want to enjoy, who you want to spend time with and how you want to be remembered. Then design a plan to take you there. Engaging in the planning process can help you:

  • Identify what’s important. How you use your money reveals a lot about you. Specifically, what you value most in life. That can differ depending on your stage of life. When you’re young, you may be pouring money into building a business or saving for a child’s college education and your own retirement. Once you’re retired, traveling or establishing your legacy through charitable giving may become priorities. Take time to evaluate how you’re currently using your assets. Do your spending, saving and investment decisions support the things and experiences you value most? If not, it’s time to make some adjustments.
  • Create a blueprint. If you leave your future to chance, there’s a good chance you won’t fulfill all of your goals. That’s why having a clear understanding of your goals and documenting them is critical. Otherwise, you have nothing to measure your progress against. You don’t know if you’re on track to accomplish all of your goals, some of your goals or none of your goals. A plan can fix that for you, so you always know exactly where you stand, what you’re working toward and any steps you need to take to remain on track.
  • Live without regret. I often encourage people who are having trouble defining their life’s purpose to take a stab at writing their own eulogy. This is a powerful exercise that forces you to be introspective as you document how you want to be remembered. It’s also one of the best ways to create an intentional life plan. You never want to get to the end of your life and say, “I wish I had done this, or gone there, or taken that opportunity.” Creating a blueprint for how you will use your assets for their highest and best purpose can go a long way toward living your life without regret, in a way that is truly meaningful to you.
  • Be flexible. The importance of planning for the unexpected was evident throughout our tour of the space center. It was clear that while patience, planning and precision are the hallmarks of a viable space program, so is change. Specifically, being nimble enough to adjust plans as conditions and circumstances evolve. Flexibility is also critical for your personal and business planning. You need a plan engineered to your specifications that’s not only aligned with your goals but can adjust over time as your life, your plans and your perspective changes. That’s true whether you prefer to keep both feet planted here on earth, or plan to blast into space one day. If you do get the opportunity to pursue the latter, I hope you will take it.

Want to learn more about adjusting your strategy to align with your changing goals and perspective? Download our complimentary checklist: When Shifting Goals Mean Shifting Plans.

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