As a blogger, people often want to know what your highlight reel is that influences your content. Just give us the overview of your life so we can quickly size you up. In some ways, it’s kind of similar to a eulogy or movie trailer.  If someone else were to sum up for life, accomplishments, and contributions, what would they say? What is your legacy?

How do you want your highlight reel to read? I talk a lot in this space about “biggest dreams, goals, values.” If that seems abstract, or you just aren’t sure, instead think about your highlight reel.

I’m 34 years old now. And here is part of mine from the last 15 years.

  • Married to the love of my life for almost 15 years.
  • Paid off $50k in debt. Grew Net worth to over ½ million. Work optional at 32.
  • Adopted a teenager from foster care.
  • Volunteered as a mentor with organizations. Received standing ovation for my work with International Justice Mission.
  • Traveled through 27 countries. Road tripped across the US multiple times.
  • Lived Abroad for 4 years. Learned German.
  • Adopted a sibling group of 3 that had disrupted 4+ placements.
  • Had two bio kids.
  • Paid for our very first home with cash. Renovated 3 homes.
  • Wrote words to inspire and encourage others to their best possible life.
  • Tried to be a blessing to everyone she met.

Are you willing to trade your highlight reel for an upgraded life? For more stuff? Or nicer stuff?

Each of those things cost me something.

Time, energy, income, focus, money.

I could have skipped all that and just had slightly nicer stuff.

I could have traded my highlight reel for a nicer home, with nicer furniture, and a nicer car, a bigger TV, more data for my cell phone, more toys for my kids, and fancier cheese.

At the end of my life, my friends and family could gather and say, “She lived a life a little bit more luxurious than the average person.” Is that the legacy I want to leave?

Maybe I will drive a beater car. Maybe I still wear my favorite dress from 6 years ago. Maybe I packed my lunch to work. Or spent some weekends renovating rental properties. Maybe if you meet me on the street, I wouldn’t seem all that impressive.

I’m not trading my highlight reel for a slightly upgraded life.

Upgrades are distractions. They steal my time, energy and freedom. Maybe people see them as a marker of success. But I see them as thieves. They water down the most important. They add white noise to the vision.

I have 160 years worth of living to pack into the next 50 years. The momentum is starting to build. Becoming Work Optional wasn’t a signal to check out of the game, but the freedom to double down on my highlight reel. Paying off debt, creating rental income, investing; all of that took time, energy and focus. Without the burden of paying the bills, or paying off debt, I can run faster. No longer weighted down, more energy is available to tackle my highlight reel.

I’m not my finished product. And my highlight reel isn’t done. Honestly, the best is yet to come. The end of my race will be even more impressive than the start.

I won’t judge what you want your highlight reel to be. This is the part of personal finance that is truly personal. If you want it to read, “always had the most snazzy shoes,” so be it. But if your highlight reel feels lack luster, take a look at what you are giving away all your freedom and choices for. Are you trading a great legacy for a slightly upgraded life or extra TV time?

What if we can’t have it all? What if we have to choose the most important and give up the rest? What is your “most important” and what is “the rest?” This is different for everyone. So we have to do the hard work of figuring it out for ourselves.

One of my “most important” is adopting kids that were passed over or too challenging for anyone else and being a truly exceptional mom. “The rest” would be having so many toys in my house that the floor is like a landmine. But maybe your “most important” is traveling and volunteering overseas, and “the rest” would be having kids. That is just as good. The right answer for you might be the wrong answer the next person. Your “most important” is fashion design and “the rest” is travel and eating out. Your friend’s “most important” is writing books and inspiring a movement, and her “the rest” is wearing fashionable clothes.

Treat the most important, like it’s the most important.

Treat the rest, like it’s just the rest.

I want an epic highlight reel.

If I have to cut out some of the trivial noise and random upgrades to do that, so be it.

I want to live a life that shines like a blaze of glory.

A life that inspires my friends and family long after I am gone.

With an adventurous spirit, she traveled, explored, carved out her own path, bucked the norm and chased down her vision and dreams.

She overcame. And persevered.

She was a blessing. In every situation, to every person she meets. She lavishly gave encouragement, support, comfort, inspiration, time, and, not least, her money. And the world was better for it.

She built things, created things and wrote things. Things that are special. Things that only she could have done. And those things last to this day. And we are better off because we have those.

Strength, tenacity, perseverance, vision. She was a game changer.  A ruckus maker.

What do want on your highlight reel? What kind of legacy do you want to leave? How will people remember you years after your time on Earth is done?

When that is crystal clear in your mind, everything else becomes simple.

My Mentoring Program looks at a few elements: keystone habits, daily actions, benchmarks, your trajectory, but it starts here. Your highlight reel. Your legacy. Because if you don’t know where you want to go, it’s awfully hard to create a plan to get there.

cheshire cat quotes life plan

I wanted this post to be part of our Financial Independence series, even though it might seem like an odd fit. But to me it makes perfect sense. I didn’t want to live hand to mouth my entire life. I wanted to do more than work so hard, just to pay the bills. I wanted more on my highlight reel. I wanted a bigger legacy. Financial freedom just made that easier.

Money was the means to end.

Honestly, it should always just be the means to a much larger and more important end. 

You just need to figure out what you want your ending to be. 


For Conversation:

What’s your “most important” and what is “the rest”?

What kinds of things do you want on your highlight reel?

By creating more financial freedom, what would that make possible?