The quest for wisdom and solutions begins with a simple question: Why? In a late December 2020, piece entitled “The Search for Why,” Google Brand Editorial Director Nelly Kennedy noted that beset with a global pandemic and hardship, “the world searched for ‘why’ more than any other time in history.”

“Why,” she said, “is more than a question: It’s the fundamental search for meaning ─ to get to the root of something. Only after you question why can you get to work fixing it, improving it, reinventing it.” Perhaps 2020 was “The Year of The Big Why.”When confronted with the “slings and arrows of life,” hardships and loss of one kind of another, we may ask, “Why is this happening to me?” “...to people I love and care about? Quintessential “why” questions precede the “how” and the “what.” How do I meet the challenge? What are the potential solutions?

Financial planners steeped in the precepts of appreciative inquiry know, as writer Simon Sinek postulated in his 2009 book, “Start With Why,” questions are more important than immediate answers. Following a year that taught us to appreciate what’s truly important, the search for meaning and purpose is deepening. What questions might you ask?

If suddenly you were told you had only 30 minutes left to live, is there something you’d want to say to God? Why wait?

A young person might ask, “Why did God make me?” In 1885, the “Baltimore Catechism”offered an answer: “God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in heaven.” Per the CDC, eight out of ten deaths in the U.S. from COVID-19 have been adults 65 years of age or older. Anytime a person of any age is threatened with death, or loses someone near and dear, thoughts of what comes next after life on this earthly plane come to the fore. We will see that in the post-pandemic search for meaning and purpose in every facet of life.

How will your quest for meaning and purpose play into spiritual matters, support for your spiritual home, charities, philanthropy? Because you’re a combination of body and soul, the “spiritual being” within you ties back to the first question, what would you do differently if you knew your time on earth was nearing an end? What loose ends need to be tied up? Fences mended? When it comes to living and estate-planning strategies, tax implications, business continuity matters for entrepreneurs and closely held business owners, the financial independence of  surviving loved ones, your advisory team of law, accounting and financial planning advisors, and perhaps other specialists based on unique circumstances, should be involved.

Don’t think these questions apply only to senior citizens. The moment you become responsible for yourself, and subsequently for the wellbeing of others, you must consider how your value proposition and actions impact others.

How has pandemic-related economic fallout changed your view of the future? Your job or career path? Education and skill development choices? Where you will live? Marriage? Family formation? Education of children? Religious commitments?

Have shelter-in-place or work-from-home mandates changed your view of what retirement might look like? Did you find yourself getting bored?

Have the people you missed, parents, grandparents, grown children, siblings or others become more important to you? What are you going to do about that? How might you strengthen beloved bonds and heal strained relationships?

If you’re a business owner, and your major investment asset, your business value, took a hit, what are you going to do to build back and accelerate value? Have thoughts about a successful transition of your business as you move toward retirement and harvesting of value changed?

Are items on your bucket list filed under “someday”? Why wait?

Did budget pressures and money problems increase your resolve to pursue financial independence? Work with experienced advisors to craft plans because fiscal and physical fitness are keys to solving the quandaries related to the how and what questions that apply to the ultimate “why”....why did God put you on this planet at this time and place in history and what would He like you to do about it.

Lewis Walker, CFP®, is a financial life planning strategist at Capital Insight Group; 770-441-3553;lewis@lewwalker.com.  Securities & advisory services offered through The Strategic Financial Alliance, Inc. (SFA). Lewis is a registered representative and investment adviser representative of  SFA, otherwise unaffiliated with Capital Insight Group. He’s a Gallup Certified Clifton Strengths Coach and Certified Exit Planning Advisor.

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