Financial life planning helps people do more than just focus on typical financial goals such as deciding when to retire, where they plan on living, and how much the expected lifestyle will cost. The life planning process allows us to examine our values and life visions. Rather than simply focus on money and wealth it helps participants decide what is really important in their lives. Life goals, vision, and values must be identified and addressed during the creation of a meaningful financial plan.
In order to use the life planning process to discover the deeper values in their lives, three important questions are typically posed during the discovery stages:
1. Imagine you are financially secure, that you have enough money to take care of your needs, now and in the future. How would you live your life? Would you change anything? Let yourself go. Don’t hold back on your dreams. Describe a life that is complete and richly yours.
2. Now imagine that you visit your doctor, who tells you that you have only 5-10 years to live. You won’t ever feel sick, but you will have no notice of the moment of your death. What will you do in the time you have remaining? Will you change your life and how will you do it? (Please note that this question does not assume unlimited funds.)
3. Finally, imagine that your doctor shocks you with the news that you only have 24 hours to live. Notice what feelings arise as you confront your very real mortality. Ask yourself: What did you miss? Who did you not get to be? What did you not get to do? Do you have any regrets?
These questions were originally posed in a financial planning context by George Kinder, a pioneer in the growing field of financial life planning. When you follow the progression of these questions you see the difference between possibilities, priorities, and regrets. Another effective life planning question worthy of additional exploration is as follows:
What message does how you spend your time and money send to the people you care about the most?
Everyone should have a financial plan and life goals and values should be included in this plan. Financial life planning encourages smart financial decision making. Most of all, the holistic approach to managing wealth and money adds meaning to the entire process. Otherwise the pursuit of “financial freedom”, whatever that term may mean to each unique person, could end up being a fruitless endeavor.
Identify the meaning behind the money and life itself will begin to have more meaning as you approach important financial decisions.
For more information on George Kinder’s approach to financial life planning visit http://www.kinderinstitute.com.