Better Decision Making, Part 2: How to define what matters most

October 5, 2021   |   Financial Life Planning

Today, we’re bringing you the second and final part in our Better Decision Making mini-series. You can check out Part One here: The three questions to ask yourself when making a decision.

In part one, Zak shared three key questions to ask yourself when making any decision:

  1. Do I have enough information?
  2. What story do I want to tell?
  3. What’s most important? 

This month, we’re taking a deep dive into this third question: What’s most important?

We have LifeGuide Partner, Doug Denlinger, on hand to walk us through a helpful exercise we can use to define what matters most.

Note: this video was originally published in our monthly client newsletter, Guidepost.


About three or four years ago, Zak and I were sitting around the conference room table together. We were discussing a growing trend we had been noticing during our client meetings:

A client would come in.
We would ask, “How’s it going?”
They would respond, “BUSY. Life is very busy right now. I’m exhausted.”

During Zak and I’s discussion, it became clear that not only was busyness a nuisance, it was also having material consequences in clients’ lives. Busyness was robbing them of their ability to keep the most important aspects of their lives front and center.

Their busyness was distracting them, exhausting them, and filling them with the dull ache of regret and missed opportunity.

Coming out of this meeting, Zak and I committed to figuring out how we could help our clients overcome this villain of busyness. Our search eventually led us to the Kinder Institute of Life Planning—a world renowned organization dedicated to teaching financial planners the importance and skill of life planning. We began a years-long, rigorous certification process to infuse Kinder’s life planning process into our comprehensive, biblical financial planning process.

Today, life planning is at the heart of our planning process. It lays the foundation of the work we do, helping uncover, clarify, and articulate the why and the what before jumping into the how and when.

So, as we talk about how to make better decisions, I want to give you one of the exercises from our Life Planning process. We’ve been blown away at the breakthroughs we’ve seen in those who have taken this work to heart.

I encourage you to take a few moments to thoughtfully consider the questions in the exercise below. If you do, I truly believe it will be one of the most powerful tools in your decision-making tool belt. It will bring into focus what’s truly most important to you—what matters most in your life.

What Matters Most

— LifePlanning Exercise —

Question 1

Imagine you are financially secure and have all the money you need for the rest of your life.
What would you do? What would you change about your life? What would you keep the same?


Question 2

Imagine you visit your doctor and she informs you that you only have 5–10 years left to live.
Let’s say you won’t ever feel sick; however, you don’t know exactly how much time you have left. How would you spend the time you have left? What changes would you make to your life? What would you absolutely make sure you do?


Question 3

For your final question, imagine your doctor tells you that you only have one day left to live.
Sadly, you have no time left to tie up loose ends. What did you miss out on? Who did you not get to be? What did you not get to do? What decisions do you wish you made?

As we help clients navigate their decision making process, we’ve found this “What Matters Most” exercise to be incredibly insightful and powerful. I hope it is for you as well!

— Doug Denlinger, RLP®, CKA®, ACBC
LifeGuide Managing Partner & Senior Life & Financial Advisor


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