If you have spent more than a few hours with me, then you know that I feel that I am the best version of myself when I am physically fit. I put a few hours aside each week to exercise and though that may seem insignificant, it has a major impact on my inner strength – the outer strength is just an added bonus. Over the past year something new has happened, I have been able to take my oldest son with me to the gym. Normally, he does his homework while watching me through the corner of his eye. He especially thinks it’s cool when I do prison push-ups (a version of a burpee), and we all know he won’t think I’m cool forever.
Not long ago, after a work-out, he shared with me that he wished he was a little more fit. We giggled our way through a pinching game and he confessed that he had more inches to pinch than me. I thought to myself, “If only he knew how tall and handsome he will be!” I gently explained to him that it was normal; after all, he’s still growing into his body! Though he plays plenty of sports, I asked him if he wanted to exercise with me. He said that my gym would not let him use the equipment for another 5 years, when he is 14, so he would have to wait until then to get really in shape! I laughed and thought, “Well, that makes perfect sense for an almost 9-year-old!”
Sadly, this is a similar excuse that I get from my clients when I ask them to dig into their marital estate or create a budget. For my son, we were sitting outside in the sunshine watching cars drive by. The road was ahead in front of us, sidewalks there for his taking. He could jog, walk or even use his bike if he wanted – he need not wait for the gym. Maybe, like many of us, he was simply making the choice to wait because it was the easier strategy. For my clients who have not had to manage their finances, prepare budgets, or even know what is in their retirement plan if they have one, even though the information is at their fingertips and often titled in their name or titled jointly, they make the choice to wait because it seems like the easier way out. And then, when the information is not readily available, the fear sets in…or worse, the money is gone. Ultimately, the circumstances are this: no matter our age we all have something to learn.
Being a part of your separation and divorce does not mean that you have to agree with it, but being a part of your separation and divorce does mean that you are prepared for it …. as scary as it can seem or as little as you want to learn. Whether you are the person who provides financial support and are fearing how you are going to spread one paycheck to cover two households, or the person receiving financial support who is fearing how you are going to survive with less, I can assure you that being proactive will help you be prepared and preserve your peace of mind. Waiting to learn about your estate is the not the best strategy to employ to allow you or your family the best opportunity. Getting educated about your estate and future and using those tools to become an empowered decision-maker now will keep you and your family ahead of the curve should there be a change.
After I spoke to my son about how his decisions now impact his health and future, I saw the light bulb go off in his head. He started to understand and was ready to take action. In fact, a few days later, I was lacing my shoes to hit the pavement and he quickly followed suit. Unfortunately, after 10 minutes, he decided jogging was too boring and we returned home. Baby steps. Baby steps.
Ann Landers said, “It’s not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings.” Ms. Landers was right and I see how her words can apply across all ages and genders. I realize that, as a Mother, I am preparing my children for their best and brightest future. As an attorney, I try to apply this lesson in my work with my clients as well – to give them the tools they need to shine a light into all the corners of their lives, as they take their first steps on this new, independent path.