March 08, 2016

What Fuels Your Fire?

Credit: PinkBlue at
I love fires. There is something about them. They are exciting. They are always changing. They are magical.

I believe our lives are sort of like fires. Life can be exciting. Life is always changing. Life can be magical.

This leads me to a question I was recently asked at a conference I attended, and now I will ask you: What fuels your fire?

I view my fire as one of those nice three-log teepee fires. My “logs” are my faith, my family, and my friends. I have a number of other large “branches” that make up my personal fire including my health and my job. I also have a lot of “twigs” that serve as additional kindling such as my love of sports, music, and theatre, and hobbies I enjoy like reading, travelling, and cooking.

Perhaps your fire looks a lot like mine. Perhaps it doesn’t. Maybe you are a log cabin fire. Maybe you are a parallel fire. Maybe you are a star fire. Your fire is your own, and as long as you stay reasonably well fueled, your flame can remain lit. Just as an actual fire burns a lot better, brighter, and prettier when there are multiple pieces of wood contributing to the flame, I believe “life fires” work the same.

As a financial advisor, I frequently work with people as they navigate through major financial crossroads. The thing is, major financial crossroads typically occur at major life crossroads. Think retirement transition, birth of a child, dual-income to single-income transition, divorce, child going off to college, death of a loved one, etc. That means I don’t just have the opportunity to help people through financial crossroads; I have the opportunity and responsibility to help people through life crossroads. Unfortunately, I’ve found that many major financial/life crossroads involve a significant change in a “log,” “branch,” or a “twig” in my client’s personal fires.

What happens when you retire and your work log goes out? What happens to all your other logs if you gain a son or a daughter and add their log to your fire? What happens if you let your spouse log or a bunch of your friends go from a blaze to some barely glowing embers? What happens when a child leaves the nest or a loved one passes away and their log is removed from your fire? At best, the shape of your life fire changes, and at worst, your fire doesn’t glow as much as it used to, or as much as it could.

My expertise is financial, but my experience is financial and personal. It’s from that experience that I urge you to think about your personal life fire. I’ve seen too many fires get rocked by major life transitions. I’ve seen too many fires that burn dangerously reliant on a single log whether that be a job, a child, or a hobby. I’ve seen too many fires fall over when a log was added. I’ve seen too many fires fall over when a log was removed. I’ve even seen a few fires go out.

Your fire is yours, and yours alone, to tend, but I ask you to consider what your life fire would look like if it was an actual fire. You may need to add some kindling. You may need to revive a log. You may need to relight a log. You may need to snuff out a log. You may need to do nothing other than remain vigilant. I’d just suggest that you strive to make your personal fire resemble an actual fire that you’d be proud to sit around and make some s’mores.