As With Life, So With Money: And the Matter of Unfinished Plans

I have struggled to write today’s post.

As you may recall, on Saturday, November 12th, I published a post about shocking, unexpected losses. It was inspired by the U.S. election results, and I used it to frame a discussion about how you and I can manage unplanned losses and the uncertainty that prevails when our day-to-day realities have shifted.

Never could I have imagined that a few hours after pressing “publish,” I’d experience my own shocking, unexpected, and heart-breaking loss. That I’d get a call telling me of the sudden death of someone very dear to me: Chuck, my ex-boyfriend.

The reason I struggled to write this post is because it’s the eve of the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday. So, shouldn’t I be talking about gratitude — and not death and, by inference, unfinished plans?

Here’s the ironic conclusion I’ve come to: gratitude, death, and unfinished plans are all intertwined. Individually and collectively, they prompt you to reflect on what you have and what’s missing.

And isn’t that the spirit behind the Thanksgiving holiday: to give thanks for who and what you have in your life, consider what’s missing, and then make a commitment to resolve what is open-ended.

So, this Thanksgiving holiday let’s talk about something that affects us all to some degree: the matter of unfinished business – or plans.

I feel fortunate that Chuck and I were in touch three days before his death. Had I known that would have been the last time, I would have said much more than I did. Since learning of Chuck’s death and attending his funeral, I’ve yet to fully shake the nagging “wish I could have” feeling. (That will take some time.)

Interestingly, that same “wish I could have” feeling can easily be extended to unfinished plans – in your personal and professional life and with regards to money.

After all, aren’t we told to have a plan for everything.

Plan your life; plan your career; plan your family; plan a trip; have a financial plan. So, we do. Even if it’s not too formal.

But how you and I prioritize planning these areas of our lives, the degree to which we do plan, as well as the approach we take, is as varied as the number of people undertaking these tasks in any given moment.

And yet, we all have something “unfinished” in our lives – right now. Despite likely having the tools or resources to move the needle forward, even slightly. Whether it’s…

  • Things you should have done, but haven’t
  • Things you should have said, but haven’t
  • Commitments you should have fulfilled, but haven’t
  • Plans you should have created, but haven’t

Unfinished business or plans prevail, I think, to illuminate the small and large issues and opportunities of life. And to ask us to choose again and again what we most want for ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities.

That’s why after you partake in your holiday feast, I’m asking you to give yourself permission to take some time this weekend and give thought to the plans, goals, dreams and conversations that remain unfinished. What’s on your shoulda, coulda, woulda list? And then consider what, if anything, you want to do about it.

How?

  • Write down what is unfinished, and why. Is this intentionally on hold; have you intentionally abandoned whatever you noted?
  • For each thing you’ve written down, is it still important to you? If so, why?
  • Are you willing to move the needle and take action? If so, what will that be and when will you do so? And if it’s still important to you, but you can’t take action right now, what’s an alternative choice you can make right now?

When you consider the everyday realities of life, it’ll be pretty darn hard not to have unfinished plans. It’s actually part of the human experience. But that’s not a reason to put off starting, nor is it a reason to delay taking the next step – whatever that may be.

When you consider the everyday realities of life, it’s hard to remember that death and the bereavement that follows doesn’t just pertain to the loss of a loved one. Dreams, goals and desires die, too. These types of deaths are simply less visible, but it occurs each and every time you don’t do what is required to give your plans, dreams, goals and desires “life” (by way of your choices and actions).

When you consider the everyday realities of life, it’s important to let people know you appreciate them.

On that note, please know this: I am incredibly grateful for you.

You have no idea how much I SO appreciate that you are on this journey of life with me – the ups and the downs/when my heart is light as well as when it is heavy.

That you read my words and allow me to contribute to your personal and financial growth…well, that’s just awesome-sauce! Thank you. And thank you for getting that money is one of the best personal development tools we have. That is way, way cool.

Here’s to hoping you and yours have a lovely Thanksgiving holiday!

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