I was feeling energized for my five meetings that day. One was with a couple who had started two successful nonprofits since their retirement. One was with a client who had a charitable foundation. Another was with a business owner and his wife who were interviewing our firm. Yet another was with a client who wanted to explore her assisted living options. And the last was with a recently widowed 50-year-old who was trying to put her life together.

I want to be clear—if I’d had to do all the prep work for these meetings, I may not have felt as energized, but our business model allows me to spend most of my time on the strategic client issues. I also want to acknowledge that not every day is filled with meetings as interesting as these.

But before I get into these client discussions, I want to ask you some simple questions. How do you want to spend your days in your practice? And with whom do you want to spend them? This means clients and co-workers. I’ve been in practice for over 30 years and have been able to adjust my work to favorably address these questions.

One of the greatest lies foisted upon society is “Do what you love and the money will follow.” Cause and effect with unrelated concepts does not necessarily work. While it is possible to love what you do and also get paid for it, that certainly isn’t always the case. More important, the underlying message is that the money has to follow in order to validate what you are doing. I know some very happy missionaries with no money and some miserable business owners with tons. So instead of that trite and inaccurate aphorism, let’s frame it differently.

One of my screen savers is a picture of concepts around the Japanese word “ikigai,” or “reason for being.” Think of it like this: Draw four circles that overlap one another. Label one “What you love,” another “What you’re good at,” the third “What you can be paid for,” and the last “What the world needs.” My objective is to increase the overlap among those four concepts. I believe what you and I do is one of the best vehicles for loving work that pays us for something we’re good at and through which we can change the world one client at a time. What is important to explore is whether you’re willing to go there. If you’re interested, let me help you by describing my five appointments on this day I’ve mentioned. Because what the world really needs is for each of us to be better listeners and better teachers.

The clients that started two nonprofits after they retired taught me about service as a tool for personal fulfillment and the importance of focus. While they were successful in their professional careers, they bootstrapped each nonprofit one after the other. When the first could stand on its own, they started the second. They didn’t do both at once. They focused on one for a few years until they felt they could let go of it. If in the meantime their other idea had been executed by someone else, they would not have minded. They were interested in serving the world rather than getting credit for a good idea.

Our company was able to help them get comfortable with their retirement and the best structures and funding mechanisms for their nonprofits while having meaningful discussions about what was important to them. The technical and the emotional are the yin and yang of financial planning. They are integrated, not independent.

The next client was left a foundation when her parents died. Our meetings have helped me further develop my own philanthropic ideals. This client did not have much experience with philanthropy until forced into the position of having to give away several hundred thousand dollars annually. While this sounds like a good problem to have, it is actually quite overwhelming. The planning was technical because we had carryforwards and tax implications.

But the emotional part was equally important.

We had discussions about what it meant to carry out her parents’ wishes and about how long she felt obligated to do so. We connected her to people in the areas she was interested in as a way to increase her personal commitment. The foundation has become her ikigai.

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