12 October, 2017
Bring meaning back in your lives
“In preparing for a battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable”,
opined Dwight Eisenhower.
Plan & Planning - Planning is essential as that is where we consider all aspects affecting the project we are planning for. We would be able to come to different alternative scenarios, some good and some downright in the mud. This allows us to think of the possible scenarios, based on which we need to take some actions and be cognisant of the potential outcomes of such a course.
As sagely opined by Eisenhower, a plan maybe useless overtime as there are too many variables affecting any project situation & we may not reach the result envisaged in the plan. But the planning exercise done is invaluable & we may keep revising the plan as per the changing circumstances.
Financial Planning - This holds true for Financial Planning. A plan created with all known information at one point may not be true after some time. Life situations change… goals, expenses, income etc. too, can change. Hence, the plan would need to be reviewed & recast. That is however part of the planning process itself.
Even Financial Planning is not a concept that is well understood, still. Many still think that one is doing financial planning if they have started investing in some products for their goals.
Financial Planning starts with understanding the needs/ aspirations of the family & their financial situation. Then the planner analyses & checks feasibility of achievement, comes up with alternative scenarios, evolves a strategy that would work best for the client and then holistically comes up with suggestions on what they need to do regarding past investments/ insurance, liquidity/ contingency requirements, future surplus deployment in appropriate assets after due consideration of their risk profile, years of service left, dependencies in the family, when the goals are coming up etc.
Life Planning - Now, there is another area called Life Planning. People have virtually not heard about this. So, let’s try and understand what this is.
All of us have goals - like buying a home, a second home, foreign holidays, cars etc. We focus on these and plan to achieve these goals overtime. In fact, in financial planning, these are the goals we come across and plan for. But, the important point is, are these the real goals & are these truly important?
Let’s put it another way - Are these goals the ones which would bring true satisfaction, a sense of achievement & happiness? The unfortunate answer in most cases would be - No!
Most of us assume that buying a home, car etc. are what are important in life. While we do need the money and the conveniences it brings, we should not become it’s slave. The so-called goal should not drive us so relentlessly that we lose our sense of proportion & pursue them to our detriment.
Why does a person not feel happy after buying the third home? Because, it was a meaningless goal in the first place!
When we pursue goals that don’t really matter & spend time and energy achieving it, we feel tired, burnt out, exhausted. And once we achieve it, there is no satisfaction or delight at having achieved something - because these were meaningless goals in the first place, which were probably taking them away from the real goals that would liberate them, provide vitality, a sense of achievement of one’s potential & the exhiliarating feeling of looking forward to life itself, as it unfolds!
How does Life Planning make a difference - There is no set formula in which a life needs to be lived. The life we have is the only life there is ( not counting rebirth, for now ! ) and we have the option to make it meaningful, blissful & elevating.
But, for that, we need to understand what is meaningful for us & what is that we really want from life...
Life Planning precisely addresses this. This is a new area where the focus is to find out what is truly important for us in life… what will deliver that freedom from the bondage of a humdrum existence. What would give us the vigour & vitality to look forward with anticipation to the next moment, next day…
To facilitate this, there are exercises to be gone through which will assist the client to focus on a meaningful life, they always wanted to live. There are some fundamental questions which one needs to ask, which will help them narrow down on what they really want to do in life. Once they discover their true, heartfelt goals and see the vision of that wholesome life they can create for themselves, they get hugely excited. The Life Planner acts as a guide & mentor and paints that ideal life for the clients to see. This helps the client to realise what an amazingly fulfilling life they can actually live & they get to experience the entire repertoire of emotions that would arise out of such a life.
This may call for rework of the life as it exists today. Some of the goals which one had in the past may not retain their appeal any more. New goals would take it’s place, There could be adjustments in income, expenses etc. too, depending on what one may want to do going forward. One may feel an anticipatory thrill as well as a trepidation which comes from a leap into the unknown. Obstacles may present itself, which the client would resolve drawing strength and support from the Life Planner. The next step would be to consider all these goals and create a financial plan & implement it so that the life ahead is smooth.
In a nutshell - The initial portion of the life planning is very important. This is where the client & the Life Planner jointly explore what is that which may make the client’s life truly lived. Once the client understands what would make their life meaningful, they get veritably excited. The new life envisaged may have problems that need to be surmounted & the planner plays a huge role here in ensuring that the client does not get disillusioned & slide back into their erstwhile existence. The Life Planner holds & keeps the torch of their dreams burning till the client is able to reconcile with the adjustments needed & gets back the strength & fortitude to make it happen. Then a financial plan which accommodates the new life is drawn & the recommendations implemented.
From time to time, the Life Planner is in touch with the client to find out if they are on track and offer any guidance that may be required.
We all deserve a life where we experience the freedom in our lives to achieve our true potential & live a life that is truly meaningful, garnished with vigour & vitality in good measure & anticipate each day with bated anticipation. Life Planning can make this possible.
When Life planning is made a part of Financial Planning, it becomes a tremendous force multiplier for the client. As George Kinder, the father of Life Planning movement says, “ Life Planning is Financial Planning done right”. How True!
Author - Suresh Sadagopan | Founder | www.ladder7.co.in
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