In the traditional financial planning process, the only exploration is what’s being done with your assets. We couldn’t be more different.
Financial planning without a clear vision for the future is just money, not really a plan at all. Your life is what’s important. But many of us spend so much time on creating security that we lose sight of why we are doing it – beyond the existential need for food and shelter.
Our exploration process isn’t forensic. It doesn’t involve where your money has been or where it’s going. It’s imaginative, open-ended and questioning. Not only are there no wrong answers, there aren’t even any right ones. There are just answers that resonate – deeply.
You Are at the Center, Not Your Money
Most financial plans set out a goal and tell you what you need to do to accomplish it. It’s usually some variation of budgeting, saving, and paying down debt – all good practical things. The problem is that these are actually hard things to put into practice and it takes motivation. They force different behaviors on us than what we would typically gravitate to. They potentially require sacrifice, compromise, negotiation.
The big thing missing is motivation. The Exploration phase of the process is where the motivation begins.
The reason it works is that it starts with uncovering what is important to you. Life planning uses a definitional word to describe what emerges from this phase. It is “heartfelt.” This is where you identify your aspirations, purpose and meaning in life. If that sounds heavy – well, yeah. Embarking on a plan that will govern your behavior for the rest of your life should only be guided by the things that are deepest held, most essential, and are in line with your values. It’s a way of aligning logic and emotion so that your financial plan – your money journey – makes you feel alive.
How Does it Work?
At its simplest, it’s a series of open-ended questions. That’s really all. The questions start broad and then go on to focus more narrowly and specifically. They are all about you, and they are about helping you go on a journey into yourself. My role is to guide you and to build and create trust between us. Before we ever discuss money, we both need to understand what you want to accomplish and how you see your life today, tomorrow, however much into the future you want to take it.
I’ll be carefully listening to your answers and following up on your thoughts to reveal things that will be relevant to this process – but that probably wouldn’t come up on a standardized questionnaire. It’s important to know that this isn’t an intrusive or demanding process. It’s a conversation. The this conversation aims to remove anxiety and create relaxation, so that your dreams can take shape.
If you have a partner, you will both have the opportunity to answer the questions for yourselves. You can also answer them together. The dreams you create can be shared, individual or anything in between.
Wrapping it Up
Life planning has been described as “financial planning done right.” It’s a journey that is centered on you and begins with trust. At the end of this first meeting, you will feel heard. As your deepest core values are expressed, you’ll move through the process in a series of meetings that will unearth and refine the plan. Not the money plan – the life plan that is right for you. The money just helps you get there. The next step is the Vision meeting.