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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Therapeutic Accounting: Sometimes It Is Good to Change


Most of us live our lives in a very routine manor, usually out of habit or giving in to the natural desire to remain “safely” in our comfort level.

This is true in all aspects of our lives, whether it’s the food we eat; how we spend our money; the friends we keep; the amount of time given and the way we relate to family; the way we work and the way we spend our spare time. A few of us enjoy the mystery of doing something new or doing it in a different manner on occasion, but we generally go back to our usual routine. Obviously, as we go through life, certain things need to change due to our age or to the knowledge that we have gained throughout our lives.

I’m usually pretty consistent in the manner in which I live my life. I haven’t eaten red meat for over 40 years (not due to health reasons). I have never been a smoker nor do I drink alcohol (except in very rare occasions). I also have never been a gambler (although I play poker—not real poker—with a few friends a couple times a year; in our game you can actually lose $40 in an evening!). I have never been involved in sports, whether participating or observing. I spend much of my spare time watching the same shows on TV and rarely watch anything new.

I have changed in some areas of my personal life. I was divorced over 16 years ago and then married Harriet, who is quite different in all aspects from my first wife, Kathy. I’ve learned to bond more with all of my children (including the children Harriet brought into my family). I now put my family ahead of work, which was not my priority in the past.

For me, the changes I made have proven to be very valuable. I have my consistencies, but I still love the challenge of occasionally embarking on something new.

What made me think about this subject was a sermon by my Senior Rabbi, Rabbi Donald Goor, at my Temple. As I have written in the past, he has been very involved in my life as well as my family’s lives. He is also someone whom I personally have felt very safe with when dealing with some personal issues. He has served as our Rabbi with great enthusiasm and passion.

Although Rabbi Goor is only in his mid-50’s, he recently announced that he has decided to leave our Temple after being our Rabbi for over 25 years. He and his partner have decided to move to Israel without the slightest notion of the kind of work he will be doing there (being a Rabbi is probably not in the cards). He told the congregation that his dream has always been to live in Israel. Although this will be a major change for him and everyone around him, his dream makes the uncertainty of the kind of life he will be living, in Israel, not as important as fulfilling his dream to live in Israel. His passion for living in Israel will outshine all the unknown issues he will have to deal with.

When Harriet and I heard what he was doing, our first reaction was sadness. After all, he helped us in so many ways, and we will miss him terribly. After a while that sadness changed to anger, as we had many more family events coming up that we assumed he would be a part of. “How dare he leave us,” we thought.

After some consideration, we both realized how truly lucky he was to live one part of his life in one manner with great passion, and with some personal risk, he’ll be able to fulfill his life’s dream. How much has he already shared with us and so many others? How can Harriet and I not be happy for him? We’re now very excited that he is going to live his dream.

I have learned that with change, even though there’s risk, comes an opportunity to grow and learn. Since one’s life has a limit on how much time you have, why not make the most of it? You, of course, need to consider all the risks that may arise, but you will never know what it could be unless you occasionally get out of your comfort level.

Sometimes it may be hard to change, but you’ll never know if it’s worth it for sure unless you give it a shot.

Therapeutic Accounting®
Harvey Bookstein has more than 40 years of public accounting experience, and he specializes in estate planning, charitable giving, and dealing with financial issues relating to children, divorce and successions planning for businesses/wealth from one generation to the next. When dealing with these issues, Harvey developed a method he has registered as Therapeutic Accounting®. Harvey’s approach is to not only look at a particular business, financial or personal issue—but to look at the specific issue as part of the “big picture.”

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