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.
And the timeless, “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”
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!
Jessica Ostrow, GYST Co-founder & CEO
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.
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…
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.
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
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.
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.
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 Travelers, with a list of great apps for every kind of trip.
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 email@example.com.
The GYST Team
And then try again the next day…
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.
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
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.
“Procrastination has a negative sentiment” said Owner of My Whole Life Coaching, CJ Liu “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.”
“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, 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 …
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.”
“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.”
“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.”
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 thereafter.” 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.”
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.
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.
Start researching which option is best for you to create a Living Will/Advance Directive.
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.
The most important thing you can do for National Healthcare Decisions Day is complete your living will. Here’s all the must-have information to get it done.
First on your list: Read our review of 5 online options from free to $50 to find the right one for you.
2. Get the basics in 3 minutes and watch a Living Will 101 video by GYST Co-founder Chanel Reynolds or read the GYST Guide to Living Wills article.
3. Prepare to have the conversation with the important people in your life, there’s some excellent advice in The Conversation Project’s Starter Kit and this wonderful video by the end-of-life and overall badass Ellen Goodman.
4. Invite the conversation, in fact, why not Have Dinner and Talk about Death. Michael Hebb and his brilliant team have made it easy, and lovely, to organize.
5. Have a think about the growing Death Positive movement. Yes, it’s a thing. Incredible trailblazers, artists, doctors and advocates are working passionately to make end-of-life (also called Death) better for you and all of us. Here’s just the tip of the iceberg:
Atul Gawande: Read Being Mortal, it was a game-changer for me (get tissues).
Laura van Dernoot Lipsky: Founder of the Trauma Stewardship Institute and essentially, at some point in your life, you’ll really need what she’s got.
Megan Devine: Founder of Refuge in Grief and author of the most helpful article I’ve ever read – How to Help a Grieving Friend: 11 Things to Do When You’re Not Sure What to Do.
And lastly: Sharing is Caring. So please spread the love. Ask, tell, show and share with your friends and don’t forget to add #NHDD
Written by Chanel Reynolds, Co-Founder of GYST and Founder of getyourshittogether.org.
Eric was a supporter of GYST and recommended it to his friends who were having children or getting married. But, it took Eric and his own wife a few years of telling each other what they ‘should’ do before they really did anything about their own wills.
When Eric first learned about GYST Co-Founder Chanel Reynolds on National Public Radio he immediately went home, printed out the GYST list of important things to do and began recommending it as a resource to many he knew.
“I realized recently that I’d been giving people advice but, not following it myself. I had a relatively simple estate, I didn’t feel like I needed a lawyer. Reminders from GYST helped me stop talking and start doing.”
Like a chore needing to be checked off the list, Eric needed an easy tool where he could follow a series of steps, complete his own will in one sitting, print it up, have a couple witnesses sign it, and send copies to his named executors and guardians for his children.
“Just do it. It feels great for my wife and I to be done. We feel like we did the responsible thing – protecting our family from one less hassle in the event of our death.”
Tell us your story. Email us! We’d love to hear from you.
Next: Go to the GYST Checklist.
Adjustments in Jim’s personal life necessitated that he make changes to the beneficiaries that were previously part of his estate plan. And while the whole notion of starting-up the process felt overwhelming, Jim kept on reading the emails from GYST encouraging him along.
Getting it together
Jim spread the word about GYST to many friends and colleagues he knew but, was surprised to learn how many of those he spoke to had overlooked their own estate planning needs.
“I spread the news about this every chance I got like it was gospel but, as great and important a program as GYST is I was blown away at how few people actually had done anything.”
One night Jim just had enough. He knew the templates and information was available on GYST to get it all done in one sitting. Jim simply needed to invest the time reading the Guides so he could feel confident making informed choices about his own end-of-life wishes.
“One night is all it takes to get it done. Set a date, hold yourself accountable to getting it done and let the content roll you through the process. ”
Tell us your story. Email us! We’d love to hear from you.
Next: Go to the GYST Checklist.
GYST Co-Founder Phil Shigo shares his personal story about this own parents and the importance of having difficult conversations about end-of-life.
I remember vividly the telephone conversation with the Emergency Doctor at the hospital, “I’m sorry about your mother,” he said, “but there’s nothing else we can do.” Days later I learned from the coroner that my mother’s death was the result of an intracranial aneurysm. I remember the pit in my stomach thinking about the ongoing care needed for my father, a 69-year-old paraplegic who was paralyzed after falling-off of a ladder some 14 years earlier. And I remember writing down his comments and questions to me in my notepad days afterward. “It isn’t supposed to happen like this,” he said.
He was right. Speaking with the spinal care doctors at Stanford Medical Center following my father’s debilitating accident in late 2001, my siblings and I had begun slowly accepting the probability that a paraplegic like my father would predecease my mother, a retired grade school teacher who stayed active her entire life and had glowing reports from her physical exams.
We were wrong. The universe had other plans. My siblings and I never anticipated the scenario of my father outliving my mother. We never saw all the behind-the-scenes stuff my mother did to support my father. We never appreciated how difficult it would be to find the manila folder in their house that contained the important financial information or how challenging it would be to access their estate planning information. We never realized they lacked adequate insurance.
“39% of U.S. Adults provide care for a parent, sibling or relative and 70% are working professionals between in the age of 30-55 with children of our own.”
– Pew Research Center
I am grateful for having a mother as long as I did. I am humbled by all I now know that she did for my father. And I am convinced that by having conversations about important things we can all expect better outcomes for our families even if we can’t control the actual plan for our lives.
Ellen Goodman is Co-Founder and Director of a non-for-profit called The Conversation Project, has an entire site devoted to helping you with techniques to get your thoughts together for what you, a friend or a family member want for end-of-life care. Take 5 minutes away from looking at status updates and photos on Facebook or Instagram, and download her free Starter Kit, I believe it’s something you’ll like and want to share.
My folks are old school. They had their Advanced Directives created by an estate planning attorney who released copies to me as their executor after my mother’s death. However, there are many other online options available to help you create an Advanced Directive (Living Will). Willing.com is offers users a free service that is legally valid in 50 states and takes minutes to create. Other services like LegalZoom offer fixed pricing options for a few hundred dollars. Whether you choose an online service or want the help of a qualified professional, this document is explains your wishes should you not be able to speak for yourself.
Everyone’s situation varies when it comes to finances. Services like Learnvest (a wholly owned subsidiary of Northwestern Mutual Life) offer a great resource to help you identify what insurance and estate planning information and provides you with a financial plan, check it out.
Living with my father in the days after my mother passed, I assumed the responsibility for many of the things my mother used to do. Paying bills and walking down the road to collect the mail were some of those things. There stuck in a pile of utility bills, donation requests from charities and a couple mail-order catalogs was a direct mail addressed to my mother from MetLife, I smiled. Then I sighed and looked up into the clouds, “you never got it did you!?!?”
“Seven of 10 working-age women, or an estimated 64 million women, have no health insurance coverage or inadequate coverage, medical bill or debt problems, or problems accessing needed health care because of cost.”
– The CommonWealth Fund
My mother did many amazing things. She was a woman, who in addition to her caregiving responsibilities for my father, attended church regularly and gave what little money and time she had to help others she said, “Were less fortunate.” She never did think to get life insurance. Take an hour to compare prices and policies to see what makes sense for your family.
Mid-Twentieth Century Engineers at Zephyr American were responsible for some pretty important office innovations, but “export” and “share” features were never a part of Rolodex product roadmap. My mother stored more than most on notched cards and rotating spindles. My siblings and I use Google Drive to store and share my father’s Activities of Daily Living, Contacts, Prescription Information, Power of Attorney, Health Directives, etc. Go digital and start organizing your digital details.
Everyone’s situation with his or her aging parents is different and challenging in its own way, but these are the things I wish I’d thought about in advance.
Having a spouse working in Healthcare, things like Living Wills, Durable Power of Attorney and Long-Term Insurance were always there on Dustin’s “To-Do’s” list. But, thinking of the time it would take to shop for insurance policies, getting documents notarized and dealing with digital accounts and passwords – it was easy to put off.
“Getting documents notarized, shopping for insurance all felt like one hot mess.”
When Dustin and his wife gave birth to their son, he started to read the guides that were part of the GYST Checklist and soon realized most of the work had already been done for him.
“GYST hits the nail on the head. Just going through the checklist helped me to realize anyone can do it. Now, I feel more confident as an adult knowing that I’ve got my shit together.”
“Just go through the checklist, having all the heavy-lifting is done for you. Anyone can work through it including the miscellaneous stuff like solutions for passwords and other digital details.”
“In all, it took me about three weeks to get my shit together but, compared to the years I’d been agonizing about getting this stuff done, it’s a ridiculously short amount of time – my only of advice would be to send people donuts.”
Tell us your story. Email us! We’d love to hear from you.
Next: Go to the GYST Checklist.