The Dream Killer                                                        January 3, 2018

From the book: You Can Have It All; Wealth, Wisdom, and Purpose

“Don’t do today what you can put off till tomorrow!” This attempt at humor is unfortunately too true and too sad. You are a procrastinator! If you are disagreeing with me right now, good for you, that puts you in a small percentage of the population. For the rest of us, welcome to the club. By the way, our monthly club meeting scheduled for tomorrow evening has been moved to next month. We can joke about it, but most of the time, procrastination is not a laughing matter. Someone once said the saddest words ever heard were, “Oh, what might have been.” Procrastination is the killer of dreams!

The procrastination I am talking about is the missed opportunities to be or do something exceptional, to go somewhere you have never been, to try something new, and to be kind and generous to a family member or friend or someone you do not know but needs encouragement and a helping hand. Of all those regrets you carry around in your mind and spirit, many of them are the product of procrastination.

“Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest.” (Ecclesiastes 11:4 NLT)

Let me rephrase that passage to update it for Americans today. People who wait for their perfect situation will never plan for their future until it is too late to do what they need to do to ensure they will have a future.  They were going to get that life insurance policy in place, but never got around to it, so their survivors are struggling to pay the bills, send the kids to college, or pay the estate taxes.

They put off seeing the attorney to draft their wills and trust so the survivors are having to deal with probate, paying estate and gift taxes that could have been eliminated or reduced, and the assets are distributed in ways that do not adequately provide for, or protect the heirs; especially when there are special needs children or a blended marriage. None of the heirs are happy because they feel they did not get what they deserve, while others did get what they do not deserve.

They thought social security, that little pension amount, and foregoing contributions to a 401k or IRA would still provide the retirement income they needed; but now know it will not. They discussed meeting with a financial planner many times, but life was just too busy and retirement was a long way off, so there would be plenty of time to do it later. There never will be! Saving $1 per month for 25 years at 5% produces a future value of $595. Wait ten years to start saving and the monthly amount required to achieve the same future value is $2.23. Or, staying with $1, you will only have $267 instead of $595. That is another dream killer.

Let us sweep those family conflicts under the rug rather than facing them head on and they will magically go away. They will not! As Scarlet O’Hara said in the movie, Gone With The Wind, “I can’t think about that right now. If I do, I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about that tomorrow. After all, tomorrow is another day.” Of course, tomorrow arrives and instead of facing the issues, the echo of that phrase is heard once again.

It has been said the only certainties in life are death and taxes. Taxes can be minimized, possibly eliminated, but they can be planned for. Everyone does a certain amount of tax planning. Growing older, and the life conditions associated with aging, and death are the only real certainties. Amazingly, the things everyone knows will happen, that could and should be planned, never are, so life and family situations becomes chaotic, anxious, fearful, depressing, and unfulfilling.

If you are like me, 2017 seemed to be gone in a flash. There was so much I planned to do that somehow did not get done. Procrastination is a normal human tendency; essentially our default setting. Achieving significance is impossible if we yield to it. People and families who become significant have learned to fight against and overcome procrastination. They plan, then execute the plan, making corrections along the way.

Procrastination becomes too easy when everything is going well. The stock market has been rising every year since 2008. There is no urgency. Retirement is assured and the heirs will receive a large inheritance, so they will not have to worry either. I will get around to planning next year. “I can’t think about that right now or I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about it tomorrow. After all, tomorrow is another day.” Then that day turns into a month, then a year, and then ten years. The saddest words ever heard were, “Oh, what might have been.” More dreams die that can never be resurrected.

This is the time for making New Year’s resolutions. The resolution that will do the most for you and your family is to make 2018 the year you plan your future and prepare your family to take hold of those dreams and become significant. Happy New Year.

You can get more insights from my book, “You Can Have It All-Wealth, Wisdom, and Purpose. Strategies for Creating a Lasting Legacy and Strong Family at our website below.

You can review articles on investing, financial planning, business planning, and family coaching and wealth transfer at our Learning Hub                  Kip Kolson, President

Family Wealth Leadership helps families transform True Wealth into purpose so every generation can be healthier, wealthier, and wiser by coaching parents and children in how to invest, build, operate, manage, and work as a team to achieve a worthwhile and common purpose that creates a legacy of significance.

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