You can avoid taxes, but not death

There are numerous strategies to reduce or avoid taxes. But there is absolutely no way to avoid dying. Four ways to use this reality to your advantage.

Many of us live our lives spending a great deal of time thinking about tax deductions, ways of investing that will have the least tax consequences, moving to an island without any taxes.  We take life far too seriously.  Look to your right and left, everyone lives as though life will go on forever and all immediate problems are of the highest import.  It is a very human characteristic, but it also limits degrees of freedom.  Limiting freedom in some ways is a good thing (we have to live in and around others responsibly), but in investing – even small amounts of money (sometimes especially small amounts of money) and in managing our own lives, it can be a very bad thing. 

Perspective – understanding that life is fleeting and all problems of less consequence than they seem at the moment – is very hard to get a handle on.  We hear about people dying from illnesses, even at young ages; we watch our parent die or approach dying.  But all this seems external to us, and we move on.

Perspective on our mortality does not have to lead to morbid thoughts and fear of living.  Quite the contrary, it can give you an edge over almost everyone else who is going about life thinking it will never end.  It is not an easy thing to do.  Most of us think about it once to twice, but quickly put it out of our minds.  But those who can keep it front and center, and not run from it, have some advantages, so long as they don’t let it overwhelm them.  Here are some ways to take advantage of an appreciation of this reality:

            Buy an iPhone now

            Take real risks in investing

            Tell your boss what you think

            Celebrate daily key relationships

You are likely to enjoy the life and time you have more than others, and you certainly are going to see things more sharply.

Daniel Socolow
Daniel Socolow: President, Socolow Group. Former Director of the MacArthur Fellows Program, President of the American University of Paris, Vice President of Spelman College. BA, MA, Ph.D.

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  • Anonymous

    July 01, 2007

    I would add: "Take real risks in life." I don't want to reach the end of my life only to realize I never took a chance on the things that I wanted. There was a poem written by an 80 year old ( I can't remember it's name unfortunately) and it basically summed up your philosophy. If anyone remembers the name, please post it.

    Thanks for your post!

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