Bigger adventures and experiences are very important to me and helping others achieve this is why I do what I do for a living. I want to give you some insider tips on how to do this with 3 key steps.
When I’m working one on one with new financial planning clients, the starting point for me is a good discussion around what you are hoping to achieve. I ask open-ended questions about what you’re striving towards with a goal of understanding what makes you tick. It is also a great gauge for how confident you are about your future and your ability to achieve the targets you set for yourself.
These are not always easy questions to answer and over the years I’ve noticed a strong recurring theme:
We are nervous to talk about our big ideas and far more comfortable listing the usual “goals” that society tells us to strive for.
It starts with what you think I want to hear, what you ‘should’ be striving for, and it’s usually one of these two bad boys:
- Reduce tax
- Pay off the mortgage
Through no fault of your own, and more because our profession has created this perception, this is the default position of almost every new client; “He’s a financial planner, I better tell him something financial”.
Next it’s the material things:
- New car
- New wardrobe, new kitchen, paint the house, fix that fence
These can be important. Typically you notice the items that are closest to you first. They are ok as immediate needs and often something that takes some deliberate saving to achieve. We’ve now made a shopping list of the relatively small items that have been hanging around for some time. They are a very valid part of the conversation but we’re far from the gold at this point.
We’ve all seen the meme “Buy experiences, not things”…it’s been over-shared for a reason; material items don’t necessarily make you happy. They usually serve a short term purpose and are quickly devalued, and thrown out or replaced.
We’re usually about 30 minutes into the meeting by this point and this is where my frantic scribbling on the notepad typically slows for a moment. I’ve got the financial stuff and your latest shopping list, but what comes next often takes some serious prompting.
Some would challenge that true goal-setting goes beyond the realm of “financial planning” and to some extent I agree, especially early on in the process. The time to bring out the really big dreams is often once the dust settles after a period of getting to know each other and the immediate needs, wants and quick wins are achieved through the initial advice.
To help you think past your immediate shopping list, I wanted to show you what I’d typically suggest to clients when the time is right.
Here are my 3 steps to help you achieve bigger adventures and get more out of life:
- Deal with “You”
It can be uncomfortable imagining yourself in a better position. Thinking about the greatest successes you’ve ever contemplated for yourself, the childhood dreams that maybe didn’t eventuate.
Make a short list of what you would term your strengths and weaknesses. Go for 5 of each. Think about the recent times that you’ve failed to achieve something, e.g. when you thought about starting a business but didn’t get it off the ground, a recent weight loss goal, saving for a holiday but you didn’t reach the target and you’re still paying off the credit card. What is it about you that made these goals difficult. You don’t need to fix these areas in your life but you need to be aware of them and be honest with yourself so you can work around it when the time comes. This will be uncomfortable but if you don’t know yourself well enough the next two steps will be fruitless. Take out a pen and get started! If you get stuck, ask someone close to you – your partner, or a good friend to help out.
- Think Bigger
Now you have some of your key strengths down on paper and you know the weaknesses you want to avoid, it’s time to leave the small things behind. Clear your head and picture your biggest ever hopes and dreams.
As David Schwartz says in his book: The Magic of Thinking Big, “Look at things not as they are, but as they can be. Visualization adds value to everything. A big thinker always visualizes what can be done in the future.”
This could be anything. I don’t want to tell you what to aim for, as long as it excites you to the point the provides the motivation to chase it down. A good yardstick for this is when you tell your family about it, expect to get answers like “why would you want to do that”, “that sounds difficult”, “that’s too dangerous, you’re not a risk taker”, or “how can you afford to do that”!
To get you thinking, here are some examples I’ve heard from my clients (who won’t mind me sharing):
- Buy a yacht and sail the world for 12 months
- Rent an apartment in Barcelona, become fluent in Spanish and have long weekends in other random parts of Europe
- Family roadtrip around America in a winnebago
- Take 6 months out of your career to follow your dream of becoming a chef.
- Build a side-hustle online based on your passion for collecting lego
When you start to think bigger, you become wired that way. You train your brain to challenge society’s views, never accept the norm and become an individual (or couple, or family) on a mission.
Don’t forget to write these big thoughts down as well. If it’s not written down it won’t happen. Better yet, write it somewhere you will see on a regular basis and can’t ignore when the daily grind gets in the way.
3. Take Action NOW
Take one of your big dreams and break it down. What is the one thing you can do right now to move this forward? – do a 5 minute search on the internet for 2nd hand yachts, email and get some quotes, use www.skyscanner.com to get the best flight deals, find a blog about someone else who has already done what you want to do and reach out for advice.
Do one thing every day for three days in a row, then watch the magic happen. Momentum will build and before you know it you will be there. “The path to success is to take massive, determined action” – who doesn’t love a good Tony Robbins quote? Don’t just think about it, it’s time to act.
Let me know what’s on your list and any issues you’re having making it happen.