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If You Fail To Plan . . .

My best friend always says, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." She follows that one up with, "Plan your work and work your plan." She's right.

I'm abysmal at following through on my plans. I think the problem is that I don't have kids. Bear with me.

When you have children around you, you have a visual prompt as to the passage of time. You see them grow and gain skills over time, and it's a reminder of time passing and how much time you don't have with them.

Without kids, the only prompts you have as to the passage of time are gray hair, wrinkles and infirmity. Well, I'm genetically blessed in that department. I don't have a lot of a gray hair, the only wrinkles I have are laugh lines, and despite high cholesterol, my biggest infirmity is self-imposed -- obesity. Long story short, I don't feel as old as I am. I don't realize how much time has passed until I find myself in the presence of children.

I had the pleasure of attending a family barbecue yesterday, and I held my 7 month-old great nephew, my late mother's great-grandchild. He looks just like one of my late uncles, and he's already trying to crawl. He eats nonstop and eats just about everything in sight! (He comes by that one honestly -- my late mother referred to my dad as a "gut bucket" because of his voracious appetite.)

It was then that it really hit me -- time is flying by. And I want more for myself and my family.

I've made the huge mistake of chasing fulfillment most of my adult life from my employment when I should have been seeking it in relationships -- marriage, kids, family. I look at my nephew and his desire to get his family settled in a home of their own and I realize that my focus needs to change. Now that I have more years behind me than in front of me, I need to really start thinking about leaving the next generation of my family better off than my generation. The financial goals that seem to have come more easily for my parents' generation, such as buying a house, seem almost out of reach for the generation behind me. And we all know that a house is the bedrock of wealth for most middle class families. I want to leave this earth knowing that the generation behind me is at least solidly middle class, not teetering on the edge.

But more than that, I need to lay a foundation for them to dream. I achieved my dream of being a lawyer. For the generation behind me, having a dream seems almost like a wasteful indulgence. It's almost as if they're afraid to dream, much less reveal any such dream to anyone.

I learned that my nephew dreams of becoming a writer. I had no idea. To say the least, I'm over the moon with the possibility of seeing his work shared with the world. He's afraid that he doesn't write well enough, and I've encouraged him to start blogging and, when in doubt, send his drafts to his auntie, The Writing Diva, and she'll edit them for him like she edits my work on occasion. More than anything, I hope he comes up with a plan for achieving this dream and his dream of home ownership.

In the meantime, I need to really sit my butt in a chair and plan for the future -- not just my future, but my family's. Most of us work for the state of California and have weathered furloughs and, for one of us, layoffs. We've been rocked hard, like most families, during this "Great Recession" even though we didn't engage in the financial foolishness that brought our economy to its knees. We all agree that our family needs a business, another stream of income, so that we will never be subject to the financial wrath of another stupid and despotic governor as we have with Arnold Schwarzenegger. I just need to figure out what that business will be. My hope is that this will be what we leave to the next generation so they will indeed be better off and, above all, able to dream.

And it all begins with a plan. Like my best friend says, "If you fail to plan . . . . "

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