In a previous article, we talked a little bit about what Financial Life Planning is. In this article, we really want to dig deeper into how Financial Life Planning can be the foundation or the guide towards helping you live your dreams today faster than you could have ever imagined.
We understand (at first) that this may sound like life insurance or life coaching, or maybe just doesn’t fit into what you typically think about when it comes to wealth management. However, the reality is that when we seek financial advice or wealth management counseling, we are really trying to plan for your future. When done right, the goal is to plan for your dreams, make sure that your family has a strong foundation, ensure that you are going to be taken care of in your later years, etc. Furthermore, in the short-term (i.e. today), the goal is to focus on living the life that you have a passion for, creating experiences & memories, and putting certain things in place so that you are living your best life today.
The tough part is that in the traditional sense of wealth management (and at most firms), a lot of the conversations are about investment returns, how the market did, how much money you need for retirement, etc. These are not bad things at all, but if there aren’t deeper conversations (or true understanding) about the personal “life” side of things that truly anchor the engagement, there is a huge miss.
What Financial Life Planning does, is actually put more of an emphasis on the beginning stages of your relationship with your spouse (or partner) and your planner (advisor). The Financial Life Planner will try to ask you and your spouse (or partner) pointed questions to get you to think both individually and together, about what you truly want in your life today and in the future. Through gaining a clear understanding and creating a vision together, there is then an emphasis on thinking about how to create your ideal future in a shorter period of time. Everything becomes more realistic and achievable. The goal is never to just be content but to find happiness, joy, and contentment earlier than you could have ever imagined.
The Financial Life Planner is not really the hero in the story. They are more of a guide in the story and it is actually you and your spouse (or partner) that are the heroes in the story.
This dynamic can be very empowering, because instead of thinking that someone else can solve your problems, you are ignited from within, knowing that you have the ability to solve your problems. However, you are not in it alone because you have someone guiding you and directing you through all of it – your Financial Life Planner.
If this sounds amazing, you may be asking, “how does this level of a relationship begin?” Well, at a high level, a Financial Life Planner is going to spend more of their time really listening (active, intentional listening) to what you (and your spouse or partner) have to say and what you really want. They might ask certain questions like “what brings you in here today”…or…”is there anything else…what else?”
Financial Life Planning – George Kinder’s Three Questions
As you get moving along in this type of engagement, deeper questions are brought up that really opens you up in a profound way. These questions are called “George Kinder’s Three Questions” and they are as follows:
- I want you to imagine that you are financially secure, that you have enough money to take care of your needs, now and in the future. The question is, how would you live your life? What would you do with the money? Would you change anything? Let yourself go. Don’t hold back your dreams. Describe a life that is complete, that is richly yours.
- This time, you visit your doctor who tells you that you have five to ten years left to live. The good part is that you won’t ever feel sick. The bad news is that you will have no notice of the moment of your death. What will you do in the time you have remaining to live? Will you change your life, and how will you do it?
- This time, your doctor shocks you with the news that you have only one day left to live. Notice what feelings arise as you confront your very real mortality. Ask yourself: What dreams will be left unfulfilled? What do I wish I had finished or had been? What do I wish I had done? Did I miss anything?
These questions really make you think and after reading them, you probably would not expect to talk about such things in the stereotypical financial planning, wealth management, or investment management meeting. But alas, we are talking about Financial Life Planning!
Thinking Through George Kinder’s Three Questions
Make a note of the referenced questions above and try to think through how you would answer them yourself. Make time and create space for this exercise.
The first question is really getting at the idea of having unlimited resources and unlimited time. What would you do differently than how you are currently living and what does that vision look like? If you could “have it all”, what would you do and how would you spend your time?
The second question is trickier, where you have a defined period of time where you can plan for things, but your money is limited. What would you do, what would you change, and how would your life evolve within those parameters?
The third (and last) question really gets at the heart of having you start living more intentionally today and more towards your true heart’s desires. It is asking if you were to pass away tomorrow and you had the chance to look back and reflect on your life, what you missed out on, what would you wish you could have changed, etc. When you think about these things, all sorts of emotions come up. You start to think deeper about the important things that really matter to you. More often than not, most will think about family, friends, and loved ones. You may also think about the silly things that upset you or dreams that you keep putting off.
Once you go through these three questions with your Financial Life Planner, there may be some gentle probing to get more out of you. They may intentionally ask, “Is there anything else…anything more…how does that make you feel?” They are really just actively listening to what you or your spouse (or partner) have to say individually and together as a couple.
With a deeper conversation like this, you’ll be surprised at what comes out of it. What one spouse (or partner) says may be interpreted differently by the other spouse (or partner), which may be different from what the Financial Life Planner hears. This kind of setting allows for an open and safe space, to truly understand each other fully. What is also very cool is that you may hear something from your spouse (or partner) that you have never heard, that they just never talked about with you. You will be happy to start learning more about each other and learn more about what excites them, their true passions, and what worries them. Not only is this great for planning your future, but it is also great for growing within your relationship together. You start to know each other more on a deeper level by listening to each other, hearing what each other has to say, and by having a true third-party guide (your Financial Life Planner) to help right alongside you both.
The Financial Life Planner As Your Guide
So, instead of thinking of the Financial Life Planner as a hero, it is actually you (the client) that is the hero of your journey. The Financial Life Planner is simply the guide helping you get there, holding you accountable, sharing all the different trade-offs, and then coming together as a unit to figure out what actions you are actually going to take and how to get there.
We hope that you can see how a Financial Life Planner can be a true and authentic guide towards having you live your dreams today instead of waiting for some future. By creating a space where you and your spouse (or partner) can have this open dialogue with intentionality, deep questions, and a continued probing to really open up and not hold back, you will feel empowered to step into who you actually are sooner rather than later. And once you start doing that day-in-and-day-out, you will have a much more fulfilled life – a life that is full of joy, a life where you are more content to be better with your spouse (or partner), better with your children, or better with anyone that you come into contact with because you’re not thinking about a dream that you are hoping to achieve in the future. Instead, you are living it today.
The last thing that we’d like to say is that in the traditional wealth management (or financial planning) world, historically it has always been about finding clients with money and helping them preserve their money. In this model (Financial Life Planning) instead, you’re actually meeting a client where they are today. The goal is to create a plan for their future, where you are actually helping them maximize their resources so that they can achieve the life that they want to live today.
As an example, you may have a high-earning couple that is making a great living, but the reality is that they aren’t living out their true heart’s desires. Deep down inside, they want to live in a different city, travel more, spend more time with their family, grow within their community, impact their community, etc. By going through this intense and deep practice of Financial Life Planning and having someone guide you there, you may come to find that the solution in your case, may actually be taking a lower-paying job that is more fulfilling. Or maybe one spouse goes part-time and you create the life that you want to live instead of thinking that you have to keep making more. If you have a laser focus on the life that you want to live in the future, why not figure out what resources you have today, and what changes you need to make, make those changes and start living for your today.
Additional Reads & Resources
George Kinder’s Three Questions for Financial Life Planning
George Kinder – Life Planning and the 3 Questions
Why Life Planning Is Simply Financial Planning Done Right
Life Planning as a Fiduciary Responsibility
Life Planning vs. Life Coaching vs. Therapy
Podcast – Life Planning For Personal Trainers (hosted by Eric Leider, CFP Ⓡ, RLP Ⓡ, BFA ™)
Podcast Trailer – Life Planning For Personal Trainers
Podcast Episode – Financial Coaching & Life Planning Goals For Personal Trainers
For more resources, you can always visit our “Resources” page.