We were recently reminded of Linda Ellis’ poem The Dash, which you can read in full here.
The Dash talks about the life of a man who has passed away, being talked about by his friend at the funeral. The friend refers to everything that he had done and achieved during his life as being represented by ‘the dash’; the space between the two dates of birth and death on his headstone.
The poem has lots of resonance outside of financial planning, of course, but it also speaks to us about what financial planning is really about and why it can be so important.
During the course of the poem, the speaker notes that what was important about the man was not what he owned, ‘the cars…the house…the cash’, but what he had done and the lives he had touched. He goes on to consider ideas of living a good life, putting things right that we know are wrong, changing how we live for the better.
There’s truth in the poem that, ultimately, your pile of cash is meaningless next to the things that you can do with it. Money is merely an enabler for things to happen and, if those things are good and lasting, they tend to have more impact on us and others than transient things we could spend the money on; a new car or house, for example.
True happiness, the poem suggests, is not about building up ‘things’, but in making sure that you have no regrets, putting wrongs right and living life the right way. Money can, of course, help to do all of those things, but it is not those things in and of itself, it is merely a way to get to the place that you want to reach.
So the next time you sit down to think about your financial planning goals, make sure that you are truly thinking about what you really want to achieve. Not increased revenue, or the next purchase, or to what accounts your money needs to be assigned; but what would genuinely make you happier; your life more fulfilled; your ‘dash’ better lived!