Life goals change, just ask Jimmy Carter

What we can learn from the longest-living U.S. president about pursuing our goals in all phases of life

15 Apr 2019



Key takeaways

  • Jimmy Carter was Georgia's 76th governor before winning the U.S. presidency in 1976 as a Democrat, serving as President from 1977 to 1981.
  • Perhaps it's his work since leaving the White House that will be how Carter is remembered.
  • Carter has won three Grammy awards in the "Best Spoken Word Album" category for his audio books and has been nominated nine times.


As the winner of a Nobel Peace Prize and three separate Grammys, Jimmy Carter can add another title to a lifetime of achievements: He's now the longest-living U.S. president. The 39th commander-in-chief surpassed George H.W. Bush, who died in November at 94 years and 171 days old, as the longest-lived American president in U.S. history. Carter, 94, was born October 1, 1924.

Carter was Georgia's 76th governor before winning the presidency in 1976 as a Democrat, serving as President from 1977 to 1981. As President, he oversaw the Panama Canal treaties as well as the passage of educational programs and environmental protection legislation, such as the Alaska Lands Conservation Act.

But perhaps it's his work since leaving the White House that will be how Carter is remembered.

He has been one of America’s most active ex-presidents, focusing on philanthropic endeavors. He and his wife have long volunteered with the Georgia-based non-profit Habitat for Humanity, and their efforts significantly raised its profile. He's also won three Grammys in the "Best Spoken Word Album" category for his audiobooks.

In addition, Carter is well-known for his frugality as well as a keen focus on family and local community.

According to The Washington Post, Carter still lives in a ranch house in rural Plains, Georgia that he built himself in 1961, which the Post says is valued at “less than the value of the armored Secret Service vehicles parked outside.”

Carter’s tendencies include spending weekends dining with neighbors on paper plates with bargain-brand wine, the Post says. A far cry from State dinners and trips on Air Force One.

Carter's varied circumstances serve as a great example of an evolving lifestyle.

Regardless of what you envision your future to be—whether it's residing in the home you built yourself, doing philanthropic work, or living in style—we all have goals. As Ainsley Carbone, UBS Total Wealth Strategist Americas, points out, "We're all trying to meet our future spending needs, keep our family happy and healthy, and retire on time."

"That's why financial planning is an ongoing and iterative process. The process of setting goals, building a financial plan, and designing an investment strategy isn't a one-time activity. Your financial plan should change and adapt as your goals and resources diverge from the "Day 1" plan," Carbone says.

"After all, there are myriad uncertainties to account for over a lifetime of investing. Not only are market returns highly variable, but so are spending needs," she concludes.

The Liquidity. Longevity. Legacy. strategy is a good starting point. This framework is geared toward aligning a family's assets with their financial objectives over generations. The process begins with a series of key questions to assess what's most important for the family:

  • What do you want to accomplish in your life?
  • Who are the people that matter most to you?
  • What do you want your legacy to be?
  • What are your main concerns?
  • How do you plan to achieve your life's vision?

The Post quotes Carter as saying, "it had never been my ambition to be rich," perhaps highlighting that a happy retirement means different things to all of us.

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