• Planning for Purpose: A Young Father's Perspective

    by Lance Gunkel CFP® CFA Managing Director | April 5, 2020

    I recently escaped the Iowa winter by taking a trip with my family and dad on a Caribbean cruise. We enjoyed all of the typical cruise amenities: a wide array of food, evening entertainment, days spent reading by the pool or beach. My favorite moment was ziplining from a high perch across the ocean and landing on the beach. It was nice to see my dad enjoy this time spent with my family, and particularly his grandsons. While Dad wasn’t able to participate in all activities – a bum shoulder prevented him from ziplining – my dad was active for most of the cruise.  

    I see that relationships with my parents and in-laws have reached a new version – 2.0. This trip – and others we’ve taken in recent years – gives me a chance to experience life with them in new and exciting ways. We are now three generations who talk, laugh, and participate in life together.   

    Enjoying life together with three generations shows a great example of Syverson Strege’s theme for 2020 – Planning for Purpose. I am grateful my parents have been intentional about taking care of their bodies and minds in order to fulfill one of their purposes…spending meaningful time with their family.  

    This has shown me the importance of taking care of one’s health for the long run. I’m thankful my parents took care of themselves so that they continue to be active, both individually and as a family. We are taught to be good stewards of our resources, and we tend to think of that from only a financial standpoint. It also applies to our physical and mental resources. My grandma Luella taught me this by example: she fanatically read novels, completed crosswords, and played Scrabble all through her 94 years. She kept her mental sharpness (and wit) until her death last year.  

    Becky Parrish, 60, was a member of the Air Force when at age 30, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. As a result of the diagnosis, she was given a medical leave from service, but continued working as a nurse. Her mentality became one of “keeping what I have” in order to keep MS at bay.  

    Becky got into weightlifting, hitting the gym at 6:30 in the morning four times each week.  While she found it hard to start, once it became routine, it was easy. The easiness comes because she feels her best on days that she’s at the gym.  

    Despite her MS, as well as hip and knee replacements, Becky provides a great example of how to embrace active aging. She travels with her six grandchildren to Hawaii each spring; every other year she and her husband go to the African safari; and she volunteers as a zookeeper. This fun and active lifestyle is possible because Becky had the foresight to stay active and eat healthy.  

    This year I’m “planning for purpose” and renewing my personal commitment to lay the groundwork so I can be healthy and active as I age. I’m going to take a lifespan approach in the hopes of not just living longer, but also making the years more rewarding through engagement, participation, and interconnectedness.

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