Before you make plans; life, money or otherwise, you have to start by having the right focus. What are your core values?
I’m referring to where your gaze rests. Is it in your own backyard, across the street or five blocks up in your neighbours patch of grass?
We’ve heard it all before…
‘The grass isn’t greener on the other side’.
‘Stop keeping up with the Joneses’
But are you steering your own plans, following your core values, and making life choices clear of this? Or are you making plans based on how your life compares to others?
We live in an image conscious age, where perception is often prioritised above reality.
I often come across this when I meet with clients and we’re discussing goals. If I can find out about a person’s core values (e.g. family, career, adventure, being charitable, being a mentor, leaving a legacy with work) then we can turn the conversation about money into a fast moving, purposeful beast that yields true results.
These are incredibly positive conversations. There is a lot to be said about this.
Why do you do what you do? What makes you tick?
The first answer is usually generic, and often financial (naturally, this is what people think you should say to a financial adviser). Interestingly, after a heavy line of questioning, the true goals are often quite different to those first mentioned.
The model I use for getting to the heart of these goals is what’s widely known as the iceberg of questioning, or as I prefer, the annoying toddler technique, i.e. asking why, why, why, repeatedly to get a deeper understanding of the real issues.
Usually the first question will yield a fairly short one word answer… Let’s think about that with the common goal of retiring early:
A: Um… because I like to travel.
Q: Ok, but you can travel now while you’re working, why is it that you need to retire to do this?
A: Because I want to be able to take longer holidays.
Q: Ok great, but why is that, where would you go?
A: Well, my daughter married a Brazilian and left 5 years ago to live with him and his family in Rio. We want to take an extended period to go over, meet the family, learn the language and understand more of the culture.
BOOM!! Now we’re getting somewhere. The heart of why this client wants to travel is about reconnecting with family, experiencing culture and continued learning.
Every. Single. Time. That first one word, generic answer is replaced by something else entirely.
As soon as the answer to one of the WHYs comes back with uncertainty, that’s when the goal is not truly aligned to the person’s core values.
“A core value is something you’re willing to get punished for” – Patrick Lencioni
Try the annoying toddler technique on yourself. If you can answer the why with clarity, and it’s not because someone else is doing it, then you’re on the right track. You’ll be establishing goals true to your core values and targets that you’ll put the hard yards in to achieve.
I almost called this blog “Lose the fake tan and start living” or “Stop pretending that where you live or what you drive matters to anyone else”. then I thought, you know what, it’s cool if you like that stuff, just make sure it aligns with your core values, or it’s at least a less significant part of why you exist.