The GYST of it: August is National Make-a-Will Month

The GYST of it: August is National Make-a-Will Month

Happy August! This month is National Make-a-Will month so we’ve outlined how you can get your will done in 5 easy steps. Also, check out our review of online living wills and get them done together.

August’s Feature Article: 5 Steps to Get Your Will Done This Month!

GYST’s guide explains where to start, assigns you one task each week, and breaks it all down into easy, doable steps.

Step 1: Review Your Options

2Whether you have a very simple ‘estate’ and the most basic online template covers all you’d need, or, a more complicated situation because of divorce, out of state property, or international citizenship that requires a few more details – you are in luck. Getting your Estate Plan done is easier than ever – and we’ll show you how.

First things first: Do you know the difference between a Will, Living Will (also called an ACD), and Power of Attorney (POA) document? They are three different things, and most people benefit from having one of each.

Read GYST’s Estate Planning Article on Wills and Living Wills

Step 2: Find the Best Option for You

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Our team at GYST reviewed three different online legal services in the Spring of 2016: Rocket Lawyer, LegalZoom and Willing. Each offer self-serve options with basic forms and functionality and generated a PDF for you to download when done and all three options took less than an hour to complete. The main differences are pricing models (flat fee or subscription), ability to save and update your forms, and additional costs for add-ons and upgrades. This month we’ve partnered with Rocket Lawyer for Make-a-Will Month

Read our Review of Online Legal Services 

Step 3: Get Your Questions Answered

11If you have any questions at all, if you are unsure about any of the legal template options or you have questions about any part of the process – please ask!

Ask a peer: There is a Q&A forum with more than 8 million searchable questions and answers allows people to ask their own legal question and receive answer from attorneys.

Talk to an expert: If a quick conversation with an expert would help, Avvo Advisor provides concrete legal advice though a 15-minute phone call with a highly-reviewed lawyer for just $39. Read more about legal help from our partner, Avvo.

Look online: You may find more answers in our Estate Planning FAQ.

Step 4: Draft Your Documents

5Use an online service or find a reputable estate planning attorney, in any case carefully draft, review, and double-check your documents are accurate and you don’t have any questions or concerns.

 

Step 5: Finalize, Share & Store them Safely

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Your last step is to finalize your documents.

To execute a will in any state in the United States, you must:

 

  1. Sign the document while you have capacity to know what you’re doing. This has been referred to, “being of sound mind.”
  2. Have two people witness your signing of the will, and they sign it, too.
  3. In most states getting your documents notarized is not required, but highly encouraged.

Finally, make sure they they are shared with a few trusted people (the one’s named in your documents, especially the Executor) and can be located if (or when) they are needed. How?

In many cases, old-school record keeping on paper can work just fine. An ‘In Case of Emergency’ folder in the metal file cabinet, spiral-bound notebook on top of the fridge, even a 3-ring binder with copies of important documents (like your will) and a phone list you can give to one or two people you trust.

Or, for many people, storing information online is easier, more convenient and feels more secure. There are many options that range from free, password protected locations in the cloud – to more secure or super-encrypted security for a monthly fee.

BONUS STEP: 

StephanieG_LivingWIll

Once you’re done, send us a picture and we’ll make you (like Stephanie) our next Success Story!

Good Luck!

Estate Planning FAQ

Estate Planning FAQ

The 6 Most Common Questions about Wills, Living Will and Power of Attorney

1. “Do I really need an estate plan?”

Yes.

2. “What happens if I don’t have a will?”

Dying without a will (or having one that no one can find) is a super bad idea. In legal terms, it’s known as “dying intestate.” If this happens, your assets go into probate, where your state has laws that dictate who gets what. Typically, if you’re legally married, it all goes to your spouse. But not always and, frankly, sometimes things can get pretty weird. After all, if you don’t really see eye-to-eye on everything with your state in life, don’t expect the situation to be any different in death. Besides, probate can take years, and your estate may have to pay attorney fees and other things, which are best avoided.

3. “Where do I start?”

Typically people start with the will, because if you think about it, that’s the only document that’s guaranteed to get some use.

4. “Is it important to get help with my estate plan?”

We think so. You need a process, like GYST’s, that can ensure you avoid these common mistakes:

  1. Not doing one at all. (Congrats, you’re already here!)
  2. Not completing the process.
  3. Doing one incorrectly, which can result in the will not being legally binding.
  4. Leaving stuff out. People often forget about pets, businesses, or how to split assets among children.
  5. How and when assets and money are given. Some financial planners recommend spacing out payments instead of lump sums.
  6. Not updating your will when you have kids, remarry, acquire new assets, or make other life changes.

5. “Do I need a trust?”

Whether or not you need or should have one really depends on which state you live in and your individual situation. Trusts are often set up and included in a will because they help you avoid probate and get your assets more quickly into the hands of those you want to have them. Read more about trusts and revokable living trusts.

6. “Should I consult an attorney?”

While you are not required to have an attorney to draft a will, there are circumstances where doing it yourself may lead to problems. If any of the following circumstances are true about you, the America Bar Association advises consulting one:

  1. You, your spouse, or children have international citizenship.
  2. You own or have an interest in property in another state.
  3. Your assets exceed a certain amount (a few million usually, but changes each year).
  4. You or your spouse are getting re-married and could have complications with trusts, property ownership, or guardianship for your minor children.

Tilt your thinking (toward what is meaningful now)

Working for a certain Redmond based software company in the early 90’s after college, I got used to the the idea of collaborating with colleagues by way of sending attachments in email.  As efficient as email and attachments were however, there were often the occassional issues of what was then called “version control” that made life challenging.  Sometimes it was the version of the application (e.g., “Hey Phil, I’m running an older version of Excel – save it and send it in .xls.”).  Other times is was the issue of not having the most up to date copy of the file (e.g., “No, Phil not ‘Q2_QuarterlyReport.xls’ – the comments I wanted you to see are in the last version of the email I sent titled: ‘Q2_QuarterlyReport_kjcomments.xls’.”

Today more meaningful solutions exist for us to share and collaborate on documents using our mobile phones and desktop machines once again.  Applications like Slack, Google Docs (even Office 365) offer us newer, better and more meaningful ways of getting things done.

Similarly, gift giving has also gone through a transition.  Research shows that giving experiences make us happier than things do. And there’s a growing body of research that shows a huge factor to our happiness is stress management.

Summer is the season of celebration.  And our team at GYST thought it would be fun to help people give a gift that matters long after the baby shower, wedding, or retirement celebration.  And while the response the past few days has been tremendous (thank you) we know the price point can be kind of expensive. 

“Love your gift idea and I’m sure it’s hard to make the economics better, but unfortunately to me it just seems like a seriously expensive gift to give. Wish there could be a cheaper option as I love the idea so much.  ;o)

For that reason we’re encouraging readers to use tools like Tilt that make it easy for contributors to help you spread the word and eliminate excuses.

Enjoy summer and stick with the urge to buy something more meaningful, more enduring a chic diaper bags by Prada on-demand services from Amazon Prime and Netflix, your family and friends deserve it.

 

The GYST of it: Gifts That Stick

The GYST of it: Gifts That Stick

Gifts that Matter. Research shows that giving experiences make us happier than things do. There’s more research that shows a huge factor to our happiness is stress management. So why not give someone the gift of getting their shit together?  

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In a recent segment aired on NPR, relevant in the midst of wedding season, science correspondent Shankar Vedantam reports on a study involving the psychology of giving wedding gifts.He comments on the “conflicting forces” guests are presented with, stating “ we want the gifts we give to please the people getting married, but we also want the gift to reflect well on us.”

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 1.35.58 PMMorgan Ward, a marketing professor at the Southern Methodist University created the study after reflecting on her own experience putting together her wedding registry. After commenting on her effort to put together a list of gifts, she says “… but the people who didn’t want to purchase from the registry were the people closest to me.”

 

The idea of giving experiences rather than things isn’t a new concept. “One of the enemies of happiness is adaption” explains psychologist Dr. Thomas Gilovich. That new crockpot or bar tool set may seem exciting at first, but just like any other object in your home, they soon begin to fade into the background.

gyst_images_tinafey_13Experiences, like a trip to the stunning Machu Picchu in Peru, tickets to a weekend-long music festival or contributing to college tuition are things that stick with you. These are the things that make the memories you spontaneously remember while doing the laundry that make you smile, cringe, or laugh while providing that little reminder of what really matters.

StephanieG_LivingWIll
Stephanie’s success story

Gifts that help us to manage stress might also be those that bring the greatest joy. According to Livestrong, three out of the top ten causes of stress are finances, health, and the death of a loved one. A survey in 2011 conducted by psychologist and self-help author Robert Epstein, reports that around 25% of our happiness depends on how well we manage stress.

According to his survey, the best way we can manage stress is through planning. In Epstein’s words, “ fighting stress before it even starts, planning things rather than letting them happen.”

This proves making a plan for the days, years, and decade to come support your overall happiness itself, it’s a quick and easy strategy that helps you allow more happiness for yourself and your loved ones.


The Gift of GYST

Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 10.45.28 AMGYST has created a prepaid estate plan so you and your family are covered for years to come. All necessary documents are drafted and finalized by an attorney who works with you from start to finish.

So next time you’re faced with the question of what to get a friend or family for a wedding, baby shower, or just because, give them the best gift you’ve likely never thought of, The Gift of GYST.

Whether you’re gifting to an individual, a couple, or your family, the package comes with your own personalized note and helpful nudges and reminders to get it done.


Gifts That Give Back

Society B – An online store that sells beautiful, fair trade goods and give 10% of their profit to a different featured charity every month.

One Hope Wine – OHW provides a wide array of affordable gift boxes that each contribute to a variety of different causes from funding therapy for a child with autism, to helping a shelter animal find a forever home. It’s ethical. It’s wine. It’s the perfect match.

MAMA HOPE – Their Human Centered Development model brings together social entrepreneurs, NGOs and many other organizations to ensure communities have access to the holistic, 360° solutions they need to support sustainable growth.

We.org – WE empower people to change the world. WE make this change through our work at home, abroad and through our social enterprise.


This blog post is by writer, journalist and filmmaker, Lyric Weiss, for GYST.com.

How would you like to be remembered?

The Greatest Of All Time has died. But what he leaves behind is a lifetime of inspiration and, not surprisingly, the Greatest descriptions of how he’d like to be remembered:

From a 1972 interview with David Frost what he’d like people to think about him when he’s gone – this “recipe for life” was his answer.

 

And another tweeted by J.K. Rowling. The last line would make anyone crack a smile.

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And the timeless, “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”

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Thank you.

 

4 GYST Tips for Summer

4 GYST Tips for Summer

 

It was four years ago that my dad, at age 76 set off on a group bicycle trip across Canada. He had planned, trained and packed for it months in advance. What none of us prepared for, was for him to be three quarters of the way through the trip, and get hit by a pickup truck. After many surgeries, months of rehabilitation and years of recovery my dad celebrated his 80th birthday with us this year. He is an amazing, tough, intelligent, generous, man, husband, father and grandpa.  We are all incredibly grateful that he pulled through it all, a little worse for the wear, but he is now 80! Our family learned some valuable lessons along the way, which is what drew me into Co-founding GYST with Chanel and Phil.

I wanted to personally introduce our third installment of ‘The GYST of It’ and highly encourage all of you GYST’ers to take some time to follow these 4 GYST Tips for Summer. They will make your summer adventures more organized, and also to prepare and protect your families no matter what happens.

Come on, you’ve got this!

Cheers,
Jessica Ostrow, GYST Co-founder & CEO


#1 Leave the kids behind with peace of mind

A vacation is a top trigger that motivates parents to get their will and estate planning done.

Headed out of town without your children? First, congratulations. Second, don’t wait until the last minute to realize, “Oh sh*t, we never finished our will!”

Almost every attorney we know has received a call from anxious parents going on vacation (or from the airport!) realizing their will or living will isn’t done.

Learn how you can do it anywhere online, it takes under 30 minutes to complete a basic one. Then get it notarized, and make sure you share it with the right people.

With your estate plans in place, you can head off on your vacation stress free. Well, maybe those TSA lines will be a little stressful…


#2 Don’t forget insurance!

Do you have life insurance? Our friends at PolicyGenius make it easy to get quotes from all the top providers. Yes, this is a plug for PolicyGenius, but we think they do a great job providing you with the information you need to choose wisely. If you have questions, read our guide covering all things insurance.

“People spend a lot of their hard-earned money on insurance, so understanding and obtaining it
should be easy, right?”
Jennifer Fitzgerald, CEO of PolicyGenius

 

Not sure if you need travel insurance? Check out this review of the best travel insurance for 2016, what to look for, why you might want it and some of the best options to fit your travel needs from Simple Dollar.

“Whether you’re dealing with an unexpected illness, a death in the family, or a lost suitcase, all of these scenarios have the potential to cancel or ruin your travels.”

Saundra Latham, writer for The Simple Dollar


#3 Pull together your family digital details

Getting all of your account information and passwords assembled in one place can seem overwhelming, but any task will feel easier if you can break it down into simple steps. We have created The GYST Digital Details downloadable checklist, with a sample of accounts and details to track.


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GYST TIP: Pick 5 accounts each week to track down. By the end of summer, you’ll have listed over 60 accounts! Imagine if you get your family involved in organizing these for your parents.

 


#4 The GYST team’s favorite travel apps

We asked each GYST team member to share their favorite travel app with you:

Wunderlist keeps all my must-reads and to-do lists with me wherever I go.” – Chanel, Co-founder

“When traveling, I like to use Glympse to share my location so family and friends can see exactly when I’ll arrive and know if I’m having car trouble or stuck in traffic.” – Chip, Lead Engineer

Google Maps has an awesome offline mode that saved my family from being lost in the Alps.” – Jessica, CEO and Co-founder

“At home or away I need to know if the Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons is still as badass as ever, so I always keep HBO Now loaded on my phone before a family trip.” – Phil, Co-founder


GYST TIP: We all recommend Rick Steves’s, Best Smartphone Apps for Travelerswith a list of great apps for every kind of trip.

 


We’d love to hear from you!

Have a great tip you want to share with other GYST’ers? Have something you’d like us to research and feature on GYST.com or the next The GYST of It newsletter? Please email us at hello@gyst.com.

Happy Travels!
The GYST Team

What I wish I would have done: Before, after and always.

What I wish I would have done: Before, after and always.

GYST Co-Founder Chanel Reynolds shares her personal story about becoming a widowed single-parent and how she (finally) got her shit together.  Learn how taking care of a few core items now can save you a mountain of suffering ‘After’. And if the shit has already hit the fan – a checklist for what to do, find, and organize.

“There are a few simple things I wish I had taken care of before my life went sideways – like a will, life insurance, and some details jotted down.” 

Before

On July 17, 2009, my husband José Hernando was hit by a van while riding his bike down a pretty road near the lake, a few miles from our house. One of the stunning and glorious summer days in Seattle that make living through all the winter rain and gray feel worth it. He was set on going for a quick training ride before his last bike race of the season. I wanted him to go to a dinner party with me and our 5-year old instead.

Jose_Gabriel
Jose and our son a few weeks before the accident.

Our last moment together, he was being goofy and adorable, wanting me to kiss him before he left. I refused, twice. We had been bickering about the usual two-working-parents-young-child-no-time type issue. He tried one last time and I couldn’t help smile at him and kiss him back.

My last words to him were, “Ok, I’ll kiss you, but I’m still mad at you.”

Twenty minutes later it was all over. The accident was really, really bad. It decimated his upper spine and caused an immediate traumatic cardiac arrest. Technically, he died on the scene.

But somehow, José made it to the hospital with the barest of a pulse. Everyone was shocked. The paramedics were so well trained, the hospital so close, the ER docs so amazing, José was in such incredible physical shape. They were able to keep just enough of him alive. And yet, after a time-suspending week in the ER, surgery, the ICU; every possible test told us the same story. He was never coming back. So I made the decision I was most certain he would want. I approved removing medical support and, quickly, he was gone.

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Training ride in California.

I stayed with him a few hours, took all the tape and tubes off and washed his body. Family came into the room to brush his forehead or touch his hand. I had to pick a funeral home. Then, there was nothing else to do but go home and tell our son his dad was dead. At some point I’d try figure out what, and how, I was going to live the rest of my life. Do you just wake up the next day and put on pants and go the store like a regular human? I had no idea. Could I afford the the house? What is probate? How much insurance did we have? What the password to his phone? Again, no idea.

But, there was another thought banging around in my head. It landed there the first day in the ICU when I turned to my friend and said, “Oh my god, I don’t have my shit together at all. And if this is happening to us, what about everyone else in the hospital? And everywhere? We’re all so much more vulnerable than we ever imagined.”

If I could make it out the other end of this alive – I didn’t want anyone else to have to.

So, out of scribbles in notebooks, hours and hours making phone calls and tracking stuff down I learned the hard way about all the things I could have done ‘before’ that would have helped the ‘after’ suck a little less. I had an unbelievable amount of positive support and help from friends. Then, there were also the numerous and wildly messy late nights, very dark thoughts, and more than a handful of moments too unbearable to speak aloud. It was very hard and seemed to take forever, but after a few years I (mostly) got my shit together.

And, that moment in the hospital stayed with me, I couldn’t shake it and knew I wanted to help anyone and everyone avoid the ‘optional’ suffering that comes along with the crappy, sad, and gut-wrenching suffering we cannot. Like death, or diagnosis, or disaster, etc.

A few years after José died, most days I felt almost like myself again so I finally launched a website called Get Your Shit Together (getyourshittogether.org). It wasn’t fancy, but it was true and honest and broke down all the overwhelming stuff into an easy list of all the things I wish I would have done. It worked.

mostemailedIn fact, it really worked. I launched the site on Monday night, and in 24 hours thousands of folks were hitting the site.

And by Friday, it was featured in Ron Lieber’s New York Times ‘Your Money’ Column. Apparently, a lot people read it.

I was beside-myself-excited the message was reaching so many people and was really helping.

The press was very kind to generously share the site.

And then, thousands of break-your-heart-open-all-over-the-floor notes from all over the world started pouring into my inbox.

 

Having read your story I know I’m not crazy, just stressed temporarily out of my mind.  I’ll be sharing your website with anyone who will listen because I would not wish this experience on anyone.  I’ll be collecting passwords and using your checklists so that I make things easier for my husband, daughter and myself.

Three years after José died, I found myself talking about the terrible details of his death over, and over, and over again. And pretty quickly, it made me feel like crawling under my bed with a bottle of whatever and a take a ten-day nap.

“This is going to be short as I am now sitting in a hospital room with my husband who suffered a stroke after hitting his head.  This lead to Brain Surgery on Saturday.  I am in the same boat.  My husband was financially responsible for mortgages, rent, car payments, etc… I was laid off 3 months ago.  I have no passwords, documents, etc… We don’t know what the future brings us.”

It could have dawned on me more quickly, however, that in my hopes to help people take care of this stuff Before – I was finding a whole lot of people, like myself, who found themselves in a world of hurt After.

And when I had enough time between his death and the beginning of the rest of my life I could see it isn’t just about my story – it is about all of our stories. We all have one, or will. And that’s why Jessica, Phil and I (plus a bad-ass strategic advisor who brought us together) created GYST.com. So, now what? We want to help as many people as possible get their shit together.

A few months ago I went through and laid out as much of what I want to have happen as I could, after I watched a family friend go through a sudden death that no one was prepared for. The whole time my wife gave me the “I don’t want to think about this!” attitude, but I know that if she ever does need it, she will be grateful for it.

After: If the shit already hit the fan.

yourownrescue

 

Recently, I was asked a (surprisingly) hard question. If I could go back in time and offer some advice that isn’t on the website, what would it be?

The first thing that came to mind is I would lean in close, give myself a hug, and say, “Oh sweetie, if anyone can do this, you can.” Here are a few other tips.

Help that is Actually Helpful

Everyone is different, and I won’t pretend to know how you can best take care of yourself, or family, kids, house, pets, bills, mortgage, grocery shopping, house-cleaning, carpools, finances or forgiveness – but I do know that these few mantras I said over and over in my head really helped, and others seem to have found them useful, too.

1. Put Your Mask on First

Adrenaline can keep you going for a little while, but then, not so much. 

So it may sound a bit cliche, but it is 100% true. You must take care of you or you won’t be of help to yourself or anyone else. The two times in my whole life that I lost 10-15 pounds in one week is 1) when I got e-coli while traveling internationally, and 2) the week my husband died.

This is a marathon, not a sprint.

2. Eat, Sleep, Sweat

Sleep enough. Eat enough. Move your body.

Every day. Consider this your job. Period. That is all.

3. Ask for Help & Accept Help

Letting people help you will make them feel better. Let them.

I grew up in Minnesota, which means asking for help isn’t really part of my vocabulary. For example, I’d almost prefer to light myself on fire rather than let someone carry a bag of groceries for me. The thing about going through a hard time, is that it pretty much totally and completely levels us all. And often we are too sad, proud, overwhelmed, exhausted, stressed, or stubborn to accept help. And generally too shattered to ask for it. So please, let someone carry a damn bag of groceries for you.

When it comes to helping, people also/often have no idea how to do it, or even know what to say. Which, unfortunately, can look really awkward or they may even ‘panic-talk’ and say something stupid – ending up not being helpful at all. Which wasn’t the point.

Friend: “Anything at all ok? I’m here to help. You’re not alone. So just call me. Annnnnytime.”

You (option 1): Thanks so much, I really appreciate it. (and you never call)

You (option 2): Thanks so much, I really appreciate it. Actually, I am finding it hard to keep up with everything. The yard needs to be mowed/dog-walked/kids driven to sports/etc. Could you do that once or twice a week for a while?

You might have to “help them help you.” Please go with option #2.

4. Assign Captains

Organize the shit out of the important stuff. Everything else? Meh.

Perhaps military protocol or the mafia isn’t your default organizing style – but in desperate times you need to know the important shit is covered. Everything else can likely slide for a while. And yes, I watched way too much of The Sopranos a while back.

Whatever you want to call it, there are a few basic categories of ‘stuff’ that needs to get taken care of, if you only have to talk to one person (a.k.a. your “Captain”) then that is way easier to manage.

Here are the general ‘neighborhoods’ of stuff that need Captaining:

  • House (cleaning, groceries, etc)
  • Kids & Family (keeping routine, visitors, etc)
  • Family Discussions (choices about housing, care, medical decisions)
  • Visitors (at hospital or house, out of town guests, etc)
  • Pets (feeding, walking, maybe someone can pet-sit a while, etc)
  • Bills (mortgage, phone, tuitions, credit cards, etc)
  • Probate (estate issues, gathering paperwork, etc)
  • Financial (banking, investments, insurance, etc)
  • Mental/Emotional (counseling, resources, getting out, exercise, etc)
  • Funeral (services, cremation/burial, etc)

 

5. Get Your Shit Together

Get the elephant sitting on top of you off your chest.

One thing at a time. Baby steps. Or, “Whatever gets you through the night.”, as our friend Frank Sinatra said. Ask yourself what worries you the most or keeps you up at night. What one task will make you feel better or relieved once it is done?

One by one – get it done. Trying to eat the elephant off your chest all in one day is too overwhelming. But bite by bite? If anyone can do it, you can.


Chanel bio pic

Written by Chanel Reynolds, Co-Founder of GYST. Read more posts and guides on the GYST Blog.

I couldn’t find a way to fit it in… Or 6 strategies to create time for life’s important things

I couldn’t find a way to fit it in… Or 6 strategies to create time for life’s important things

My daughter has the stomach flu.  The school asked me to get involved with the auction.  Work just gave me a big project with crazy deadlines. I couldn’t find a way to fit it into my calendar.  Life is tumultuous.  We’re busy people working through distractions that compete with the priorities that give structure and purpose to our lives.  

Still many of us, despite our best intentions, allow the boundaries around our time to be compromised.  Learn about 6 powerful insights from professional experts so you can say “Yes” to the right things and get more done.  

 

Testing one, two. Check, check, check…

Speaking of tumultuous lives, and putting off what’s important, unless you were traveling in one of the last places on earth without cell coverage, you already know about Prince, and like the rest of the world, shed a purple tear over the sad news of his way too early death.  And if you’re part of the 98% who are active in the social sphere, then you also likely heard that Prince did not have a will.  Shocker right?  Hardly really.  According to a recent GYST poll, when registrants were asked “What is the status of your will?” 80% answered “Not Done” and 12% answered “Needs Updating” – let’s start a revolution for a whole new band.   (And a huge shout out to the 8% of you who answered “Done” – GYST thinks you rock!)

“You say you want a leader but, you just can’t seem to make up your mind”

– Purple Rain, Prince

 

Riffing with brilliant minds…

Last month we interviewed a group of leaders across a range of professional fields. From pragmatic life coaches to empathetic financial planners, from emotionally intelligent social workers to country music lovin estate planning attorneys.  Our team traversed the issues of procrastination with these discipline experts and found powerful insights in how they deal with clients.  Then we made our own GYST remix of 6 practical strategies to harmonize the noise in our busy lives.

#1 Emotional hang-ups don’t mean we’re procrastinators…

“Procrastination has a negative sentiment” said Owner of My Whole Life Coaching, CJ Liu CJ Liu-151_extracted_1-Edit“We don’t as individuals sit on the couch, and not write our wills because we’d rather be lazy and eat potato chips.  No, we avoid things like writing our wills because we don’t enjoy contemplating the idea of death.  We have emotional issues that prevent us from our doing rational things for ourselves and our families.”  Liu says, “For some people the idea of death is just too painful, so people avoid the pain these experiences bring altogether but, that doesn’t mean people are lazy.”  Liu’s advice is to “explore the root cause behind the emotional issues that are causing those the behaviors to be present.”

#2 Fears motivate us, impulses are often hard to control…

“People are too busy living their lives today to take time out and plan for their not being around tomorrow” says Karen Ramsey, Certified Financial Planner, Founder and President of Ramsey & Associates and author of Everything you Know About Money is Wrong “they need to go to the grocery store.”  Ramsey’s point is valid.

In a recent GYST poll, over 46% of respondents ages 25-54 claim they are “too busy” when asked about why they haven’t completed their will or living will.

Referring to issues such as blood pressure, weight or financial stress, Ramsey says, “change is hard but, when the fear associated with not doing something becomes higher than the pain of doing something, that’s when you’ll see people modify their behavior.”  Ramsey’s advice, “to understand the causes of procrastination reminds us to explore better ways of controlling our impulses and knowing the limits of when it’s best take on a new responsibility for the school auction to managing the urge to buy something we find on the internet that doesn’t work with our life’s priorities.”  

 


Shonda Rhimes says…

Shonda Rhimes, award winning television writer and producer, in her recent book:  “Just say Yes,”  shares how to say “no”.

“No is a complete sentence. I’ve heard that cliché over and over. So I decided to treat no in the same way I treat saying thank you. Say no and then don’t say anything else. I come up with three different clear ways of saying no …

  1. I am going to be unable to do that.
  2. That is not going to work for me.
  3. No.

#3 Understand a person’s willingness as well as ability…

To understand the source of procrastination it’s important to appreciate the challenges that come with competing priorities.  Erin Galvin, LICSW, HR Manager for Pagliacci Pizza, explains, “people are complex, where does a task sit in terms of importance to that person?” Galvin emphasizes the need to study a person and their ambivalence toward a meeting or task.

“Procrastination sounds like a judgement but, most often people have a rational or emotional reason for not to doing something.” – Erin Galvin

Galvin, a student of Motivational Interviewing (MI) says, “a person might be willing to go have a conversation about end of life with their family but, conclude that they don’t have the ability to engage their family in a conversation and decide that they are not going to go through with it.”  Galvin’s advice is to “take the time to explore blockers that appear to be in the way with someone who, ideally, is not invested in the outcome.”

#4 It’s not procrastinating, we’re too embarrassed to admit we don’t know

“Sometimes people just don’t know what to do,” say Liu. “ For example, if I say, ‘put together a networking plan’ and then when I meet with them next time ask to take a look at their networking plan, and there is no plan, it’s as if they’re stuck.  This isn’t because they’re procrastinators.  It’s because they’re like teenagers who are too embarrassed to admit they don’t know how to create that plan in the first place.”

Liu has a solution for those who are stuck, “I find the easiest way to help clients is to break it down for them and offer simple suggestions.  Things like, start by making a list of people you want to meet, create a list of questions you want to ask those people, have a clear agenda along with a clear set of deliverables you can send in an email with a clear call to action and next steps.  So when you give a task like putting together a networking plan, it’s important to understand that for many it  feels like a herculean task each with five small tasks embedded inside each big task.  

The problem isn’t that people are too busy or too lazy and procrastinate, most often it’s because they’re just are too afraid to ask questions like, “I am struggling with where should I put the call-to-action – should I place it at the beginning or end of the email?”  Liu says, “when a person is asked to create a plan, they not only don’t know what the big tasks are, but they also don’t know the  25 little embedded tasks within each, so they often just give up.”

Liu’s advice, “make people comfortable admitting what they don’t know and start by helping people parse things into little tasks.” 

 

#5 Don’t do what you read, do things in your own natural way

“Many of my clients” Liu says, “buy books – they read them, they try out the strategies and say, ‘I tried it and it’s not working for me.  I give up.” Lui says the problem is not that an author like Stephen Covey is wrong.  It’s that people haven’t figured out a way to apply the thinking in the books a way that works for the natural way my clients like to get things done.”  Liu likens it to learning to teach right-handed people to switch and write with their left-hand.  “It’s just not natural,” says Liu.  

Liu’s advice, “start experimenting by doing what you know.”

Liu says, “If you don’t like working out by yourself, don’t force yourself to go to the gym for exercise – you’ll resent it.  Instead find something you like doing, say like hanging out with a friend and choose an activity you’ll both enjoy, like dancing.  This way you get exercise, have time to hang out with a friend and do something that hopefully you and your friend both think is fun.”

 

#6 Get over it already, it’s simply a maintenance plan for your life…

Tim Burkart, Estate planning attorney, and member of the American College of Trust and Estate Council, says, “Doing your estate plan is one of the things that responsible people do and is similar to retirement planning or making sure your home is properly maintained.” A small minority of people are superstitious and fear that if they sign their Will, they will die shortly thKHBB 025ereafter.”  Burkart adds, “my clients are busy people with active families and professional careers.”  Speaking about the challenges people have with getting their documents in order, Burkart says, “My clients often don’t’ feel like taking time away from work but, in the end it’s just what reasonable people do to protect their assets and their families.”  Burkart reminds that one of the more common conversations that slow people’s decision making process down is the conversation around that of guardianship for minor children.

Burkhart advice, “get started – it’s a maintenance plan for your life.”


Ways to get started today

GYST NEW CHECKLIST:

Our updated checklist now includes:  wills, living wills, life insurance, emergency financial planning and community.  Each breaks down the task into a series of steps and gives you an easy way to get started.  There are reviews of services, lists of attorneys and guides to help you learn more about these topics.

ACCOUNTABILITY CLUB:

Having someone hold you accountable can help you along the way. Think of getting these plans in place as a goal and who you could share that with that will help you be successful.

LIVING WILL/ ADVANCED DIRECTIVES:

Start researching which option is best for you to create a Living Will/Advance Directive.

DIGITAL DETAILS:

You digital details are all of your accounts, numbers and passwords, but getting them all sorted out and organized can seem overwhelming.  In fact task is just like what Lui describes, one task with a lot of smaller tasks embedded. Solution, just break it down and knock off a few of these at a time.  Learn more in this article.