Sharpening the Saw of Family, Friendship, & Finance

December 05, 2022

People are busy. Christmas festivities and planning for them doesn’t exactly make us slow down either.

Even if you are in the stage of life where child-rearing is over and retirement has arrived, all of us live in a frenetic culture.

Pausing is hard.

Fast approaching holidays make it harder. Therefore, make sure to calendar in some time to pause and reflect on areas of life that you can develop.

Stephen Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People in a chapter on self-renewal, gives an illuminating illustration on the ironic problem of being so busy that you never take time to sharpen your saw. He writes,

Suppose you were to come upon someone in the woods working feverishly to saw down a tree. 

‘What are you doing?’ you ask. 

‘Can’t you see?’ comes the impatient reply. ‘I’m sawing down this tree.’

‘You look exhausted!’ You exclaim. ‘How long have you been at it?’

‘Over five hours,’ he returns, ‘and I’m beat! This is hard work.’

‘Well, why don’t you take a break for a few minutes and sharpen that saw?’ you inquire. ‘I’m sure it would go a lot faster.’

‘I don’t have time to sharpen the saw.’ The man says emphatically, ‘I’m too busy sawing.’1

Let’s look at three life categories that you might consider sharpening in 2023.


Have you sharpened your estate planning saw? Get on paper what needs to be on paper. Quit talking about it year after year and make this the year that you take action.

Have the will finished. Get the trust done. Do what you need to make sure beneficiaries are set up according to your wishes. Make an appointment with a lawyer or financial advisor.

Remember having your estate distributed in a certain manner after you have passed away doesn’t happen just by thinking or even talking about it (or refusing to talk about it and your own mortality). One of the greatest gifts you can give your family is an estate planning meeting. Use that as a launching pad to get your affairs in order.

Why not now?


We live in a time of increasing loneliness. One 2021 report from a Harvard Graduate School of Education project noted the following:

Our report suggests that 36% of all Americans—including 61% of young adults and 51% of mothers with young children—feel “serious loneliness.” Not surprisingly, loneliness appears to have increased substantially since the outbreak of the global pandemic.2

Make that phone call. Reconnect with that old friend. Start new friendships. Begin a book club. Open your home. Be intentional. Between social media, “screen time”, and aging—young and old alike struggle with loneliness.

You are not alone.

Why not do some personal reading on communication and connection so that you can improve your friendship muscles this year? Or simply make a list of friends and plan phone calls, breakfast dates, or book clubs once-a-month.


One of the easiest ways to decrease time spent on financial budgeting is to automate. Set up auto payments on bills, auto payments on saving, auto payments on retirement and investment planning to benefit from compound interest and avoid market timing. Consider making accounts for various goals and dreams. The more you automate the less time you will spend stressing about manually doing it each month. Why not do that as you approach the end of the year?

Finally, there are so many categories one could cover and so much more one could say about each of the above categories. But this is a start.

Maybe none of the above resonates with you. That’s ok. My hope is that at least this post will cause you to reflect on and take intentional action in just ONE area of your life.

Let’s make the legacy we leave even deeper!



  1. Page 287.
  2. Loneliness in America: How the Pandemic Has Deepened an Epidemic of Loneliness and What We Can Do About It” (February 2021). Accessed online: