When I received the startling announcement that the Dunwoody Crier was ceasing publication, it was sad news! The founder and publisher, Dick Williams, is a longtime friend, and I know how much he loved his paper! 

For many entrepreneurs and small business owners, his or her enterprise is more than a living. It’s a labor of love. It’s hard to stop doing what you love. But there’s an old Yiddish proverb — “Man plans, God laughs.”

Dick Williams had not planned to suddenly shut down the paper, but it became necessary. As a long-time columnist, I hated to see that happen. I enjoyed writing my weekly columns and working with the Crier team. Knowing that the paper meant a great deal to the community, I had a hunch someone would step in to save it and build on its reputation. The Appen Media Group, as you may know, has purchased the paper. With expanded resources, the Dunwoody Crier has a bright future. 

Alexander Graham Bell observed, “When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” The Appen acquisition spells both opportunity and the preservation of a great community asset. 

There’s a lesson here. Everything you start in life has an ending. Your life itself will have an ending. You don’t like to think about endings. Often you don’t know “what’s next,” so you procrastinate. But procrastination is a decision in itself. In delaying action, you are giving up control.

In his 2006 best seller, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” Dr. Stephen Covey emphasized Habit 2: “Begin each day, task, or project with a clear vision of your desired direction and destination, and then continue by flexing your proactive muscles to make things happen.” In other words, what is your vision? What do you want to happen, to experience?

For a young person, your formal education (high school, trade school, college) may end somewhere around age 18 to 22. What is your strategy, your vision, as to how you will monetize your investment of time, energy, and money (yours and your parents’) to maximize the return on the investment? Given the number of folks taking five-plus years to graduate, changing majors or schools, dropping out, struggling to pay off onerous loans, etc., a plan, a vision of a desired outcome, would have been useful and, most likely, profitable!

Every marriage will end, either in annulment, divorce (about a 50 percent failure rate), or with death of a spouse. Yes, saying “I do” with an end in mind is decidedly unromantic, but do you have a plan to live together in harmony? Do you know what strengths and weaknesses you both bring to the table? Are you on the same page when it comes to children, career paths, residence (including geographical location), religious practices, money issues, chores (who does what?), use of free time? 

Again, not romantic, but a pre-nuptial agreement may be important, especially with late-in-life unions of widows and widowers where separate families and significant assets are in the mix. Just celebrated your 50th wedding anniversary? Kudos and blessings. What’s your plan for being either a widow or widower at some point?

You have just taken your first job? What’s your plan for financial and purpose-driven success between hiring and retiring? Mr. or Ms. Business Owner, what’s your plan for finding, developing, coaching, and incentivizing the team members you need to grow the value of your business, value that may be the largest component of your personal nest egg? If you are a professional, key person in a closely-held company, how will you help to accelerate enterprise value to bolster your retirement package?

If you work for any company or non-profit, or you are self-employed, what’s your vision of financial independence and how to get there? 

How do you hedge your bets using risk management techniques, including insurance (health, disability, life, liability, etc.), to minimize the financial impact on those who depend on you if something goes wrong? Life itself will end, which is why prudent preparation includes testamentary and living estate planning ─ wills, trusts, powers of attorney, advance directives, buy-sell agreements, etc.

Begin with the end in mind! That absolutely applies to life itself. If as a believer, you see life’s end as a beginning, a transition to Heaven and the company of the angels and saints, you’ve grasped the big picture. “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”


Lewis Walker, CFP®, is a financial life planning strategist at Capital Insight Group; 770-441-2603.  Securities and advisory services offered through The Strategic Financial Alliance, Inc. (SFA). Lewis Walker is a registered representative and investment adviser representative of  SFA which otherwise is unaffiliated with Capital Insight Group. He is a Gallup Certified Clifton Strengths Coach and a Certified Exit Planning Advisor (CEPA®).

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