Personal Strategic Planning: In Honor of Cynthia Jones

Having been given the privilege to blog at the Against the Grain web site, I know I should do it more often and I regret not getting back to it as often as I should. Tonight I am offered all kinds of reasons to take advantage of this opportunity.
I have been thinking a lot recently about strategic planning and how it relates to one’s personal life. For those of us over the age of forty and especially those in our 50’s and 60’s, the word “planning” takes on a whole new meaning. Like in “estate planning,” for instance. Have you done yours?
Do you have a will? Have you made sure that someone – your spouse, partner, best friend or a family member – whoever – is listed as a beneficiary on your bank accounts? Who is going to take care of your children or pets or whatever – if you drop dead tomorrow?
Unless we are chronically ill, many of us don’t think about these things. Some of us have enough sense to plan ahead but most of us have at least some gaps in our plans. I just recently discovered this myself – none of my bank accounts listed my husband as beneficiary, for example (but now they do.) And it’s time to update our wills – they were put together years ago before we actually married so they need updating.
If you are concerned about “end of life” decisions – do you have a living will or similar document? Is it legally enforceable? Does your state have provisions for this?
What about HIPAA? Do you know who is allowed to see your medical records and who has access to decisions made about you if you fall ill or are in an emergency situation?
On Monday, Feb. 1, 2010, ECU Joyner Library’s dear colleague Cynthia Jones, who was our Human Resources point person and Administrative Assistant Director, died suddenly on her way to work. It was she we would have sought solace with when this kind of tragedy occurs. She could always be counted on to advise us whenever we had any kind of questions about the workplace. What do we do now when our expert counselor is gone?
We will grieve our personal and collegial loss, yes; but what also hurts is that we have lost a real expert. C.J., as she was known, was a trusted source. C.J. was the perfect person for the job. She was kind and compassionate but firm and professional. She wouldn’t bend the rules but would patiently explain them, even when she did not agree with them. C.J. had many years experience in private industry and came to state service late in her career. Having “seen it all” she was not surprised by anything. She knew how to interpret the stickiest situation in a calm, rational manner. When a dilemma defied a solution, she would lead you to understand the reality of it anyway. I’m pretty sure that CJ was the best Human Resources professional I have ever known.

So having thought about all this – I realize that in honor of C.J. (if for no other reason) it is my responsibility to not let my personal planning be set aside – it is really important to make sure I have my ducks in row as best as I can. If I die tomorrow, will my loved ones be taken care of?

Furthermore, if I am fortunate enough to be able to continue contributing to my profession past retirement, do I know what that scenario is going to look like? It’s up to me to plan for that and start thinking about it now. (And for the record, I am NOT ready to retire!)
I want to make sure we all realize how important it is to do this kind of planning. And thank you, C.J., for being there for us. We are definitely going to miss you.

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