At a training fifteen years ago, Gay Hendricks asked all of us, “What is your 500-year plan?” The mind-blowing question woke me up. Longevity takes just a few lucky ones past 100 years — 500 years is clearly beyond our existence in this physical form! Five hundred years takes us beyond the age of the United States. Five hundred years is how we age trees, arctic ice melting, family generations, cultures. Five hundred years is a long time — particularly when our common view of planning is days, weeks, months and a few years.
As a seasoned financial planner, for me planning is like breathing. Astute financial planning consistently projects to timelines of now – next month – next year, and specific goals (retirement, move to a warmer climate, assisting grandchildren.) Planning with these types of goals and needs in mind is important. And, as human beings, once we fulfill our own life aspirations – feeling embodied sufficiency – we long for something more. This eventual openness and generosity is my direct experience working in this profession for over 30 years.
One path of life may lead us to have, experience, and fulfill our needs and our wants, while our heart aches to give back in gratitude for our good fortune. This way of going, on the Virtuous Flow of Somatic Finance, reflects tending to feelings of scarcity, which naturally give way to feelings of sufficiency.
One can also arrive at embodied sufficiency from the other end of the spectrum: generosity. This reflects those of us who hold a belief that giving is better than receiving. When we give out of balance, our own needs of sufficiency are not met. But through thoughtful examination, growth, and the honoring of our self-worth, we learn to meet our own needs as we give attention to others.
These urges to give are gentle invitations to gaze into the horizon of life toward the next 500 years. We recognize how our goals, actions and behavior today, directly affect the lives of humans of tomorrow. The weaving of now and next has vibrant potency. Power-punch: those who plan while holding a 500-year view of both/and (now/next), often wish they had held the vision earlier.
Pause for a moment to let the gravitas as well as joy of the above statements permeate your mind and heart. We won’t be here in 500 years, so how are we “doing” now?
Gay’s most recent book, The Joy of Genius, offers simple and powerful practices to ignite your journey on the “Genius Spiral.” Genius energy is the longing in our hearts, nudging our creative expression to awaken and brighten — the creative expressions becoming timeless gifts.
When we pause and reflect on 500 years, what experiences do you recognize in your own life?
We seek, find and engage work to survive, thrive and create in the world.
We spend, save and invest income generated from our work.
We train and continue our education for the benefit of growth, potential and enjoyment.
We pause formal education and seek meaning from other lines of development.
We might travel.
We might raise children.
We volunteer our time and talents.
We maintain our health.
We nurture relationships.
We buy or rent homes.
And then, what else happens?
We feel satiated with life. Our heart grows with an ache of love. This swelling in our chest is a call for more. We are seeing, feeling and recognizing the sufficiency of our lives and wondering, what else? What is my work in the world? What kind of legacy will I leave? What can I do to make the world a better place for all beings?
A 500-year plan makes much more sense to us. We open our eyes, long-closed, towards that horizon which beckons our attention.
Recently I had the good fortune to visit the Grand Canyon, in Arizona. Standing on the solid ground, gazing in the distance at clay and rock formed and shaped by the cosmos… millions and billions of years old. Sobering to say the least. We are living in an interconnected web of life. Humans are one teeny tiny piece of that existence. Our guide shared a fun fact. If humans became extinct, nature would erase our face on this planet within 400 years. How’s that for a 500-year plan?
Planning for 500 years,