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A few months back, my friend Emilie from Burke Does shared a blog post called “Questions for a Fulfilling Life.” She had listened to episode 89 of the Afford Anything podcast, and in it, the host (Paula Pant) poses 11 questions to her listeners that makes them think about how they want their lives to truly be. I thought those questions were so powerful that, even though I’m not really a podcast person, I listened to Afford Anything’s episode 89 for myself and then I went through the questions with Andy. I decided to share our answers below to inspire someone. And of course, I definitely recommend listening to Paula’s podcast and answering the questions for yourself!
Question 1: Imagine you’re financially secure. You have enough money to support yourself, your family and your dreams. You’ll need to continue working, but it’s fulfilling work with a reasonable schedule. What would you do?
Me: I would want to work part-time in Human Resources, just maybe Tuesday-Thursdays or something like that. It would have to be a good work environment and nothing too stressful.
Andy: I would work in a small shop (with just 1 or 2 employees)… a small shop that’s one you would to call ahead just to make sure they were open. It would be something that I would make and sell to others. Or I would work somewhere part-time, like at Taco Bell or something, so I could get half-off my tacos. (Oh Andy and his Taco Bell…)
Question 2: Imagine you’re financially independent. You DON’T need to work anymore. Your investments create enough money to support yourself, your family and your dreams. What would you do?
Me: I would probably volunteer somewhere, at a Christian ministry or something. Nothing like a full-time schedule, but maybe 10 hours a week or something. I definitely be home more so I could be with family, and travel more. And learn more… like audit college classes so I could be learning just for fun, but not have things like deadlines dragging me down.
Andy: I would probably still work at the place above, but with shorter hours and be able to be home more and do more housekeeping and gardening. Maybe be a deacon at a local church (as long as I didn’t have to talk to people #introvertproblems).
Question 3: Imagine you visit your doctor, who tells you that you only have 5-10 years to live. You’ll never feel sick, and you’ll have no advance notice of the moment of your death. Your financial position is the same as it is today. What would you do?
Me: I would probably work less and spend more time with my loved ones and volunteer so I could make a lasting difference. I feel like I work so much, even though my hours are less than they used to be…. I guess I just feel so busy, like I don’t really get to enjoy and experience life. And read lots and lots of books and travel more.
Andy: I wouldn’t change anything. There’s absolutely no reason to.
Me: But no Recruiting right?
Andy: -shrugs shoulders- I’d finish my term…. but if I couldn’t get what I wanted to out of the Army, I would get out. Maybe go to college for Marine Biology.
Question 4: Imagine the same scenario as before: You have the same 5-10 years to live. You’ll feel healthy throughout this time. But in this scenario, you have unlimited funds. What would you do?
Me: I would quit working and volunteer at a Christian ministry that I love, travel more, spend more time with family, and write a memoir about my life and the lessons I’ve learned.
Andy: Finish my Recruiting term, say goodbye to the Army, visit some countries that I’ve never visited, give my money away, hang out with family until I got bored and decided to go back to work…..
Question 5: Imagine you visit your doctor, who tells you that you only have 24 hours to live. What feelings come up? What regrets would you have, if any? What did you miss? What would you do?
Both Andy and I couldn’t really come up with regrets. Overall, we’ve had pretty good lives.
Question 6: Brainstorm a list of EVERYTHING you’d buy or experience if you have unlimited funds. Do not hold back. Do not fear judgment. Do not self-censor. What would you buy?
Me: I’d build a brand-new house in the country with hardwood floors and a jacuzzi bath tub and a swimming pool in the backyard and lots and lots of land for us to explore. We’d have horses, but also stable hands to take care of the horses for us so we could travel as we pleased without having to find someone to take care of our horses. Speaking of travel, we would visit places like Ireland, Aruba, Israel, Germany, Italy, Romania, Lake Louise in Canada, Lake Powell Arizona, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Greece, Scotland, Wales, England, and Ireland among others. And of course visit all 50 states. I’d like us to go on a safari in Africa, fly with the Blue Angels, land on an aircraft carrier, go skydiving with the Golden Knights, go dog sledding, swim in all of the Great Lakes, see the Northern Lights, meet my Compassion child (Veronica Sarah) in person, learn ballroom dancing.
Things I’d like to buy: A nice dining room set (aka not one from Craigslist that is falling apart.) A boat, so we could spend our weekends on the lake. And have someone to help me decorate our dream house because I am nowhere as talented as Joanna Gaines. A new car, but nothing super fancy… maybe just a nicer model of a Ford Fusion. Ooh, and matching hangers for our clothes so I can throw away all the ones that are the free ones on the shopping racks at Walmart…
(Clearly I’ve been thinking about this for a while.)
Andy: I’d get a bigger truck. Lots of food….All the food. Maybe “buy” some politicians or something so I could make some lasting change on things that matter. I’d have a small yet successful business that I could have them fulfill my vision, but I wouldn’t have to actually run the day-to-day operations. Travel more. Go to the gun range with new rifles. Get my pilot’s license.
Question 7: Cross out anything that is not realistic within your lifetime, then circle the top 3 items on your list. Next to each one, write down how much you think it’ll cost.
Andy: “Honey, the Golden Knights and Blue Angels and landing on an aircraft carrier are all unrealistic.”
We decided together that our top 3 items would be buying our dream house, buying a boat, and traveling more.
Question 8: Next to each item, write down how soon you’d want to achieve it.
We’d wait and buy our dream house after Andy leaves the Army (somewhere between 3.5 and 14 years from now) and probably also wait to buy a boat then as well. As far as travel, we would love to do that now!
We skipped questions 9-11 and decided to branch off on our own.
How can we make these goals reality?
Well, we can invest more now so when we do go to buy a house, we’ll have money saved up for it. And of course, travel more. Make a list of places that we’d like to see while we are at each duty station, both in the local area and a trip or two that is international. We did well with creating our Iowa Travel Bucket List and try to make plans each long weekend or each time Andy is on leave to mark something off of our list. We’re going to set aside a set amount of money each month to put towards travel goals.
We could also buy new plastic white hangers now and start saving for a new dining room set (since our current one is falling apart.) And of course, by making a difference, we can get involved in local ministries and tithe. (We do a pretty good job of this so far, by being involved with AWANAs, YFC, and tithing, but there’s always room for improvement!)
What would your answers to these questions be?