Align Your Financial Life with the Dreams You Want to Protect

“Let your dream devour your life, not your life devour your dream.”
~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Now that many people have the gift of flexibility and can work from anywhere, what they find this has turned into is they work from everywhere. “I’d like to go on a vacation that isn’t consumed by my work.” Sound familiar? If so, you are in good company.

This “flip side of the coin” phenomenon, where getting what we thought we wanted brings us something we don’t like at all, is one of the challenging parts of planning for an ideal life. How do we anticipate the unintended consequences and how do we stay awake to the dreams when it is so much easier to take an alternate route, to go to sleep on them instead?

Sometimes the reason this is easier can be blamed on what Jerry Seinfeld calls “Tomorrow Guy.” We stay up late because Today Guy wants to watch the TV show or finish the book and figures it’s Tomorrow Guy’s problem when we have to wake up and go to work.

This plays out in everyday decisions that affect our long-term health and wealth like increasing the cost of our entertainment subscription instead of the amount we defer to our 401k, or eating the bowl of ice cream instead of taking a walk after dinner.

When we experience thoughts and feelings that tell us something isn’t right we are in an uncomfortable place. It’s the chasm between where we are and where we want to be. When it comes to money choices, the bridge across it is recognizing that there are two sides to money, and they don’t work the way we think they do.

We think the remedy out of our uncertainty and discomfort will be found in rational solutions and we ask ourselves technical questions. How can I pay less in taxes, what are the best investments to maximize return, how much and where should I save?

What most people don’t do is look at the personal side of mon-ey. And what’s unfortunate about that is that while both sides of money are equally important and complex, it’s the personal side that drives decision-making.

It’s the side that needs to have the conversation with Today Guy.

As a fiduciary, what I love most about the work I do, what I call Financial Life Planning, is helping people clarify what financial problems they want to solve and building solutions on the foundation we create first, which is to make vivid what is essential to have in a fulfilled life.

Fee-only financial planners offer a structured dialogue to organize their clients’ thinking about living well and connecting their ideas to their money. This is one of the things that makes the experience of working with a fee-only planner feel unique.

Many of my fee-only colleagues hear things like, “I had no idea someone like you existed,” or “You do things really differently,” when they start working with new clients. That’s because traditional financial advice often feels like the advisor doles out advice about the money, rather than putting the client’s life at the center of the planning. 

The advisor often takes over responsibility, instead of empowering the person. You. This is the essence of the difference be-tween the traditional approach and what financial life planners do. 

George Kinder, founder of the Kinder Institute which grants the RLP® designation, recalls his work as an accountant and financial planner in The Seven Stages of Money Maturity. He writes: “To become who we most truly are, we must be free first to dream, then to translate that dream into the practicalities that might allow it to be accomplished. Only then . . . should we consider compromises as we attach dollar signs—reality’s most potently sobering symbol—to the dream. Right there, where dream and dollar cross, the surface and the soul connect.”

And that’s very different.

Source: Miriam Whiteley, CFP®, RLP®, CeFT®
Eugene, OR