“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!” Hunter S Thomson
I came across that quote recently and it really made me stop and think and prompted this blog.
The reality is that it is not so easy to “skid in broadside...thoroughly used up” and worn out because to do that actually takes a lot of planning. Unless we plan to get the most out of life it simply does not happen. We think we would like to do more with our lives and then the phone rings and we are immediately dragged back to the tedium of the every day.
However it doesn’t have to be like that. In fact you only need to do two things.
- Know what you want
- Make sure everything you do is getting you closer to what you want and keep doing it, if it isn’t then stop doing it.
So, it is important to prioritise the right things and that is where Zig Ziglar comes in. He said “you will get all you want in life if you help enough people get what they want”. For me I simply look at point two above and ask “is what I am doing helping my clients get what they want”, if so I keep doing it and if not I stop doing it.
The common themes when preparing a financial plan
If this is true for me in my business I suspect it is also true for most people in business. What is not so clear for many people is to know what they really want. When clients talk to me about their goals as you can imagine they can be quite varied but there are certainly some common themes in what people say they really want:
- Less risk and more clarity about their financial future
- Less uncertainty and a road map of what they need to do financially to achieve their life goals
- Know what to prioritise and what is and is not important
- Know where the finish line is; imagine a race without knowing where the finish line is
- Having the financial freedom to do things other than work.
With a clear plan work becomes more meaningful as there is a crucial purpose behind it. The reward for achieving the plan becomes apparent. Likewise the personal cost of not achieving the plan is clearer as well. This leads to a different mind-set or attitude around running the business. This in turn is exhibited in different behaviour such as focusing on helping clients or customers get what they want rather than wasting time on not so relevant tasks that could and probably should be delegated to someone else in the organisation.
Starting to develop a plan
Understanding what you really want to achieve in life is the first of three key stages to creating a financial plan. It is the stage that I, as a financial planner, cannot afford to get wrong with clients. It is also the most important stage because it is going to be very frustrating to realise what you ended up achieving in life you never really wanted, perhaps by being the richest man in the graveyard, or possibly by working full time for a lot longer than you needed to, or perhaps wasting money on unnecessary taxes or rapidly depreciating assets which meant you missed out on the life experiences you truly wanted.
The first step to getting the Hunter S Thomson result is to develop your own financial plan.
Chartered Accountant and Chartered Financial Planner