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Do you really enjoy life? Are you organized and prepared for life’s contingencies?

There are many factors that determine if we enjoy life. These can be whether our lives are in balance, whether we have time for ourselves, if our professional lives are successful, and more… A big factor for many is the peace of mind that comes with having an organized life.

“I enjoy life when things are happening. I don’t care if it’s good things or bad things. That means you’re alive. Things are happening.” ~ Joan Rivers

On an early flight from Toronto to L.A. two years ago, I had a delightful, albeit brief, surprise encounter with Joan Rivers. At five-thirty in the morning, the grand dame of satire looked extremely put together. I commented to her, “You look absolutely amazing.” Truthfully, she did.

Plastic surgery et al, her make-up and hair were flawless as was her outfit, which at first blush had likely not yet made its way to the mass retail market. Dismissively, she waved a hand and shrugged, “Ough! You are very kind but I am a mess. I have a team waiting to put me together when we land.”

She smiled, seemingly pleased with the compliment as we settled into our respective seats.

At her passing last week, friends poured out tributes to the lady who genuinely was one of female pioneers in comedy. I reflected back on that chance meeting.

Overtly, Ms. Rivers’ acerbic wit hinted at what one would ascertain is her true personality – a woman who was organized enough to look put together at five-thirty in the morning and someone who most likely had no issue providing clarity about how she wanted things done.

A routine throat surgery took its toll on the octogenarian and put her in a coma. Her daughter, Melissa, made the tough decision to take her off of life support. This was something that – according to reports – was facilitated by Ms. Rivers’ previous decision to give her daughter Power of Attorney.

According to the American Psychological Association, only 25% of Americans have a living will. Although death is inevitable, it would seem the vast majority of people want to avoid being organized enough to provide their remaining loved ones with clarity should the situation to be on life support arise.

The legal definition of a living will is as follows:

A written document that allows a patient to give explicit instructions about medical treatment to be administered when the patient is terminally ill or permanently unconscious; also called an advance directive.

My question to you is this – do you have a living will? What are your wishes should you become incapacitated? Are you organized even beyond your conscious capabilities, in the unfortunate instance of a stroke, head injury or some form of accident that might cause you to go into a coma?

Of course, this is not pleasant, and not necessarily something one wants to discuss at the dinner table, however it is an essential conversation.

It is vital that you make a conscious decision to organize your life.

In my Organize Your Life Class – The Fundamentals, we discuss wills and living wills. I am by no means an expert in that field but I am on how to organize your life for the best possible outcomes in life and career.

Therefore, I do encourage students not to skimp, regardless of age, on hiring an expert and having it done correctly.

Imagine the heartbreak, confusion and anger remaining family members have without implicit instructions. Now consider the fact that very few people have any form of financial contingency in place to maintain the health costs of life support care.

There may be religious, ethical and moral reasons why we would either want a DNR (do not resuscitate) or clause that lets our loved ones know we wish to remain on life support however the question is – are their contingencies in place to support whatever your decision is.

The good news is we can take control and organize our life in advance – by creating explicit instructions and plans in our lives now . This way we can provide ease to our family members should we fall into a situation that has us on life support. This better enables us to enjoy life now too.

My suggestion is that you develop clarity with regard to your wishes, work with an attorney to do a proper living will, see if your insurance supports your wishes and most importantly – let your loved ones know what your desires are.

When Chris and I did this exercise, our oldest daughter was only ten and I couldn’t imagine her feelings and anguish at having to decide what to do. Nor could I fathom my Dad, or Chris’ parents arguing, or perhaps agreeing, on a decision that might not be in the best interest of our kids.

This is why we choose to have a Power of Attorney outside of our family. This person also happens to be a physician and will be ready to ask questions and determine the hope for any recovery. Naturally, we asked him beforehand.

Additionally, we have implicit instructions for what is to befall our children in the event of an accident. We have set up other measures to ensure that everyone is taken care of.

The question you may ask is – when do I need a will? This excellent article in the NY Times (Click here) suggests that anyone with children create a will regardless. Wills are, of course, contestable however it is much better than leaving your family in chaos as they attempt to make decisions on your behalf.

The subject of death is not necessarily pleasant however estate planning is part of getting organized. The more clarity we provide, the less worry we have. The less worry we have, the more balance we can attain and the more we can enjoy life in the time we have.

I encourage you to create your living will and do your estate planning. I would love to hear how you do and furthermore, if you have stories of people close to you, who failed to do this and what the end result was. Please feel free to share your thoughts on this subject on my blog and also on .

Susan arms crossed black shirt Susan is a balanced living expert.  She is an author, speaker and self made millionaire.  She has appeared on ABC Family, the CBN, written for Dianne Magazine, Oxygen Australia and many more.  Susan dedicates time to philanthropy and projects that benefit women and girls all over the world.  She is married to her best friend, Chris, and together they have five beautiful children.

*Photo credit: Joan Rivers: By David Shankbone (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons


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