It's Not About Your Money, It's All About Your Life by Elfrena Foord et al

Having summed up the thrust of the book in a well chosen title, the authors expand on the theme a little by dividing the book up into four parts: which they term The 4 Cs.

 Clarity; Confidence, Contribution and Contentment.

Whilst the process they recommend is mechanistic in its approach, they are brutal in the sense that it relies on detail and effort for it to work. By this they require that the participant fully engages with the idea that they both need and want the necessary help in finding out exactly what lies at the heart of their life's purpose. This is not an easy journey, but it is essential to discovering the difference between traditional approaches to legacy planning, which have been exclusively focused on the transmission of assets with the least leakage of tax, versus what they call Wealth & Beyond approach.

So the first step is clarity; next comes confidence, and this can only come from a ruthless assessment of detail. Vague aspirations are not acceptable. They want the detail. So you want to go around the world - then get real - get the numbers. Armed with the facts, then the planning can begin. The person engaged in this process needs to be wholly open. It doesn't matter what the gaps are; it mainly matters that they are fully and correctly identified. Once the purpose (clarity) of your life has been identified then the blue touch paper will be ignited - the gaps fade into the background because whatever price is needed to be paid, you will be motivated to meet the cost. The authors suggest that if the participant maps out a dream but remains lacking in drive, then the dream has not properly been identified. It' nothing but a fake.

It may be worth diverting here a bit to refer to a paper called Alignment Theory. We can all readily grasp how our adaptive unconscious protects us from danger - for example instinct and reflex responses to pain - but what is not so obvious is how our adaptive subconscious also adapts to the stories we have been told over and over during our lives. These stories and the belief systems they support, manifest themselves in behaviour which goes against the natural good interests - very often in the guise of coping mechanisms or denial touched with the futile wish that the problem will go away.

This helps the reader to grasp the importance of going deep inside themselves in order to really understand their own unique meaning. It can be done flying solo, but that is rare. More often than not, the person who embarks on this journey will need a guide - not necessarily a friend, but someone who can guide the discovery process.

The authors then move on to the difference between estate and legacy planning. This is all about the contribution we make to others - not always our natural object of bounty i.e. the children (as the lawyers might phrase it). It could be your community, your favourite charitable cause or institution. You just need to find it.

They use the example of Alfred Nobel as a perfect example of someone who woke up to contribution. He was a scientist, inventor, entrepreneur, author and pacifist - perhaps best known at the time for his invention of dynamite, something that killed his brother Emil in 1864. One day Alfred read the newspapers which mistakenly ran the wrong obituary. Instead of referring to his other brother Ludwig, the paper's ran Alfred's obit. He didn't like what he saw. This inspired him to turn his attention to the meaning and purpose of his life - and resulted in his bequeathing the bulk of his fortune to create the annual prizes honouring human ingenuity on the five fields of human endeavour that particularly interested him - Chemistry, Literature, Peace, Physics and Medicine.

In the final section of the book, the authors attempt to explain the state of contentment by listing ten reasons why people seem unable to live happily with money. Read the book and see whether you agree with their thoughts.

 To my way of thinking the difficulty starts with relativism - a prevalent condition of Western democracies and a well spring of unhappiness. Imagine what would happen if we each discovered our personal cause and felt liberated to pursue that dream. What value might that unlock?