As we often say, how can you get what you want if you don’t have a plan? You need to be the primary focus of this plan. It is about what you want! And the sooner the planning starts, the better. It doesn’t have to wait until people are retired.
Often, we focus on saving money for retirement, but don’t really know how we want to spend it. Naturally, we want to meet our living expenses. But life is more than making it through the weeks, months, and years. I expect that most people want to fill their time doing things that excite and motivate them to grab life by the horns and live it to the hilt.
As a former financial advisor, it was difficult to get clients to talk about what they wanted when planning, usually because they didn’t know or were afraid to commit. The planning horizon was too long and too uncertain.
Here’s where the need to plan comes in when we think ahead to retirement:
- If you don’t know what you want to do, how will you know how much money you need?
- How will you know if you need to continue generating income or can retire altogether?
- How will you know if you want to retire at all?
And if you don’t know what you want, how can you figure it out?
Planning is not an absolute, it is a journey. When creating long-term plans, you need a game plan for what you want to happen, based on what you want. But you also need a play book for when the game changes. Your playbook is a series of pre-planned strategies to use when the game plan isn’t working so well.
Although creating a life plan that could conceivably span 30+ years can be daunting, we’ve identified a planning process that can make it easier to plan and to continually refine for as many years as you need.
It starts with a gathering. We call it our Friends Connection Conference. There, we guide people through a brainstorming process. We present a series of experts who help them expand their thinking in areas that are important to most people. Key topics include:
- Where do I want to live, what lifestyle do I want to have and how do I plan to pay for it?
- What do I need to best handle staying healthy and to handle medical issues?
- Creative ways to leave a family legacy. (Not necessarily money)
- “Wanderlist” – the creative way to plan an expansive, fulfilling and lifelong travel plan.
By presenting in a group setting, we foster a sharing experience with friends and family and others who might impact the plan. We then set up a format that encourages them to explore and expand their planning journey on their own. The attendees begin creating their own game plan and their playbook.
Finally, we encourage a 90-Day Process that provides the structure to set manageable, short-term goals. Attendees are encouraged to revisit the plan every 90 days and determine what worked, what didn’t work, and what needs to be done in the next 90 days to continue moving forward. This process allows them to tweak and refine their plan constantly.
We find that those who do this have a sense of direction, and they’re exploring and developing that direction to make sure it’s really where they want to go.
Remember, if you don’t plan for what you want, you’ll settle for what others want. Or you may just take what you can get.
For more information on The Friends Connection Conference, 2020, click here. I invite you to explore issues and more on my bi-weekly podcast, Changing the Rules. Find it on your favorite podcast site or go to Changing The Rules.
By Raymond D. Loewe