How Do You Know When You’ve Reached a Crossroads?

How Do You Know When You’ve Reached a Crossroads?

For me, I’ve had moments when I’ve known that everything after that one specific point in time would be different.

The first major crossroads I reached was when I found my faith. I had sought something more for years, but my childhood had pushed me away from religion.

Even if my parents’ beliefs pushed me away from church, their values pushed me toward hard work. As a result of that work ethic, I succeeded in the financial planning business, and achieved far more than I ever thought possible.

Then the moment came. 

I felt as though the world outside of me—my family, my firm, my wealth—was exactly as I wanted it to be. But I knew something was missing, and I began to realize there had to be more to life.

I was the Managing Partner of a 35-person, 8-partner firm when I realized the way I was living lacked purpose. I had wealth, I had material possessions, I had influence and power at my firm, and I had a great family.

If I could have imagined what my life might look like at 40, I couldn’t have painted a better picture.

Except, deep inside, it didn’t feel like a complete life. At that moment I felt as though the world outside of me—my family, my firm, my wealth—was exactly as I wanted it to be. But I knew something was missing, and I began to realize there had to be more to life.

That something was spiritual. I was spiritually incomplete. When I started listening to God’s voice trying to guide me, I realized that the things I had thought were complete actually needed work. A lot of work.

My family needed more of my time.

My career needed meaning.

My wealth was a blessing, but lacked purpose other than simply saving for retirement. I needed the sacrifices our family had made to mean something more. I wanted those sacrifices to make a difference.

One of the first things I took action on after this crossroads was to leave the firm I had co-founded. I was in search of a better way of doing things, a way of helping people serve others through their wealth. And, after a few starts and stops, we started a firm—Trinity Wealth Advisors—that does that for our clients.

Then I reached my next crossroads.

In 2000 my son Jamie, 15 at the time, passed away in a rock-climbing accident. If you’ve ever experienced the loss of a child, or someone you love deeply who left far before you ever thought they would, you know the impossibility of conveying how that moment feels. If I could command words like Shakespeare, I could still never craft a sentence that adequately conveys how monumental a loss like that is.

To say it knocked me down is an understatement. Losing my son turned my world upside down.

I needed help spiritually, on some days I even needed help physically, and I definitely needed help running our firm and managing our family’s wealth.

Prior to my son’s death I was our family’s financial planner, and I was our firm’s Chief Everything Officer. When Jamie died, grief overwhelmed me, and I couldn’t do either of those roles well—or at times at all. I had to rely on my team to manage the firm, and called on them (along with my wife, Debbie) to manage our family’s finances.

It was a humbling—but affirming—experience.

Our firm grew, our wealth grew, and most importantly my family and I were able to focus much of our time on a youth center built in my son’s memory. The time we were able to spend focused on that project was an important part of the healing process, and helped ensure that our son’s life and death could make a difference.

Finding my faith was a crossroads in my life.

Losing my son was a crossroads in my life.

Now, as I age steadily, I am reaching towards another crossroads, one where I want to spend some time focusing on how to serve others using everything I’ve built – from my firm, to my time, my talent, and most certainly my treasure.

In this series of blogs, I look forward to discussing how we, as business leaders and entrepreneurs, can make a difference in the lives of others, including our families and communities. One of the most powerful things I’ve learned in life is that you are never alone, that there is always someone who has had to walk the same path you’re walking.

And I want to walk that path of making a difference with you.

James Matush, Jr., CFP®, MBA

James Matush, Jr., CFP®, MBA

James "Jim" Matush, CFP®, MBA, is the CEO and Founding Partner of Trinity Wealth Advisors, a leading wealth advisory firm serving affluent families in the St. Louis area. With 40+ years of experience in financial services, he offers his clients actionable plans to help them achieve their goals.