Would you like to design and live the life of your dreams? There is still time. You can do it. I learned how to do it at a recent seminar with George Kinder, author of The Seven Stages of Money Maturity. He has won numerous awards for his groundbreaking approach to helping people plan their lives and achieve their goals. It is called Life Planning. He has trained financial planners to be Life Planners in over 25 countries. You don’t need to hire a Life Planner to attain your goals. For those of you who do not want to hire a financial advisor/Life Planner, Kinder has recently written a do-it-yourself book, Life Planning for You. Kinder was so keen to make this process affordable for real people that he priced the Kindle edition of his book at just $2.99. He also created a free companion do-it-yourself website, www.LifePlanningForYou.com.
In two days I attended the seminar, read the book, tried out the website and have been “life-planned” by a financial advisor. This is do-able, folks.
There are many real life examples in the book. One of them is about a woman who met with a Life Planner financial advisor. By talking with him and completing his forms and worksheets, she rediscovered her lost passions for travel, photography, gardening, hiking, Spanish, and meeting a man. She didn’t mention any enjoyment from living in her condo and was speechless when the advisor brought this to light. He showed her how she could retire and do the things she wanted to do by selling her condo, investing the proceeds cautiously and moving to a smaller condo with rent lower than her current mortgage payment. This was a lot of change and it scared her. The Life Planner financial advisor helped her create a step-by-step plan to ease into the change. She negotiated with her employer to cut back her hours to two-thirds. To keep her take-home pay at the same amount, she stopped making contributions to her already well-funded retirement plan. She used her extra energy and free time to start classes in photography, gardening, and Spanish. As she made these initial changes, she began to look at the rental cost for condos. If she was comfortable with these changes, she could sell her condo, move to the rental, and retire or reduce her working hours a bit more. Viola!
There are five phases in the Life Planning process with an acronym of EVOKE.
Exploration This is where you think big and creatively. Think of everything you would like to accomplish, both financial and not financial.
Visualize To help you visualize your better future, the book and the free website include exercises and worksheets. The first exercise includes three thought-provoking questions: What would you do if you were financially secure? How would you change your life if you had only five or ten years to live? What would you regret most if you had only one day to live? In another exercise, you get to describe your ideal day and week, then compare them to your current days and weeks. As Kinder says, “simple changes in the structure of your week can make a huge difference.”
Obstacles The obstacles phase begins with developing a crystal clear picture of what you wish to accomplish. Kinder lists seven steps to help you identify your obstacles to success. He explains how to overcome them, even those obstacles that we set up inside ourselves.
Knowledge The knowledge phase is about putting the plan in place. The free website helps you get through the financial part, such as calculating your net worth, figuring your cash flow and tapping into an easy-to use-retirement calculator.
Execution The execution phase can be as simple as beginning to heal old relationship wounds or as complex as starting a new business.
I came away enlightened and optimistic after all this exposure to Life Planning. As I work my way through the execution, I won’t have the benefit of a real live Life Planning financial advisor to prod me along. The self-help version of execution is going to require focus, determination and tenacity. To maintain progress whether in self-help or when working with a living, breathing Life Planner, Kinder recommends daily review and further detailed development of one’s vision. I’m booking time for that in my calendar. I encourage you to give this a try as well. I challenge you to follow it through to attainment of your life dreams.