Friday, March 30, 2012

Financial Cartography

“When you come to a fork in the road…take it.”
-Yogi Berra

Many people who engage our services have only a vague idea of “where” they are going or how they will get “there”.  We like to use the analogy of a jigsaw puzzle or a map to describe what financial cartography is and what it does.  Think of putting together a jigsaw puzzle without a picture of what the finished puzzle should look like – pretty tough, huh?  The financial lives of many people we meet resemble that jigsaw puzzle – all the client knows is they have a box of puzzle pieces but they don’t have a picture of what the finished puzzle should look like.  And, without that picture they feel anxious about putting the pieces together.

Financial Cartography™ describes the series of processes by which we help clients determine their dreams, goals and objectives with the end result producing a financial map for their lives.  We find that as this map is drawn, re-drawn and refined with new details, that clients become more engaged in planning their futures and discover that they do have the power to decide where they are going and how they will get there.  When the map is completed to your satisfaction, we integrate the aspects of financial planning into your map so you can reach your objectives along the way.

Financial Cartography™ is not “retirement planning”, but life planning.  “Retirement” is just a tactic for living a period in one’s life.  Living a happy and fulfilled life is the ultimate goal and retirement is merely one part of that life.

Here’s another way to look at it: remember the last time you took a long trip in your car? What was that one thing you made sure you had before you left?  A road map, perhaps? "Here we are at Point A, and here is our destination at Point B."

You knew exactly where you were going.
You checked the route ahead of time.
You carried a reference guide with you.
You had a pretty good idea of how long it would take.
You made note of any sight-seeing opportunities.
You packed a first-aid kit.
You packed food and drink.
You checked your car's maintenance items.
You gassed up on the way out of town.
Etc, etc, etc.

The point is - you did everything you could think of to ensure that the journey would be as pleasant as possible, that you would see the sights along the way and that you would arrive safely at your destination.  That’s what Financial Cartography™ will do for you in making your financial decisions.

Survey Your Lifescape

”One does not grow old until he believes he has more to look back on than he has to look forward to.”
-Maurice Chevalier

The following questions are designed to help uncover your core values and beliefs, fulfillment of which will allow you to live a happy and fulfilled life.  Please use the added blank pages if you need more room.

You win $100 million in the lottery.  What would you do with the money?  What would you change in your life? What would you do differently?

If you knew you only had five years left to live, what would you change in your life?  (Assume that you would be healthy right up to the end and that you would not know the exact date).

If you found you had only 24 hours left to live, what would you regret not having done, regret not having had, or regret not having been in your life?

What is important about money to you?

What do you like most about your job?

What do you like least about your job?

If money were no object, how would you spend your time?

What do you most look forward to about the future?

What is your biggest fear about the future?

What causes are important to you?

If time/money were not an issue, would you volunteer? If so, what would you do?

How do you visualize your life in your 60’s, 70’s 80’s and beyond?

What does retirement look like to you?

What would you be retiring to?  Where would you live in “retirement”?

What would you want your obituary to say about you and your life?

How do you want to be remembered?

Draw Your Map

“Begin with the end in mind.”
-      Stephen Covey

Start with the age to which you want to live e.g., 95.  What will your life look like between now and then?  More importantly, what do you WANT your life to look like between now and then?  Imagine the series of events you’d like to see take place each year between now and your assumed mortality – what are those events and when will they happen?  Write them down.  For example, give yourself a page for each year and fill up as much of each page as you can.  Your subconscious mind responds to specifics, so be as specific as possible.  It may be easier to start with a few items for each year and then come back and fill in the details as you get into it.  Take your time – it’s your life.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

30 Mileposts on the Roadmap of Life

“Begin with the end in mind.”
- Stephen Covey

I had the privilege of attending a retirement celebration for the CEO of a not-for-profit retirement community where I serve on one of their management boards. He gave a short speech during the event and as I was listening, it struck me that the list he laid out had application as more than merely workplace aphorisms; that at its core it was a roadmap to a well lived life. I’ve edited a few of the items to enhance their universality. With permission, here is your roadmap:

1. Embrace opportunity. At times you have to step out of the way and let things happen.

2. Don’t jump to conclusions. Always give people the benefit of the doubt.

3. Act with fairness and respect. Require that of others.

4. Listen with an open mind. Listen a lot; talk a little.

5. Sometimes people simply want to be heard, even if things don’t go their way.

6. On any subject, there are always people who know more than you (they may even be close by).

7. You don’t always have to be right in order to lead effectively.

8. Rarely is the CEO 100% right.

9. Admit it when you’re wrong, or if someone has a better way.

10. Empowerment is critical in an effective organization.

11. Micromanagement is insulting and deadly.

12. Participation of the leader has symbolic impacts – be careful with that.

13. We are all equals. Only talents and assignments vary.

14. Recognize and honor talent.

15. Much of what you do sets precedents in memory, ethics and records – that’s why having and following established policies is important.

16. During difficult times, remember that “this too shall pass.”

17. Your life clock is ticking at work also. At a full-time job, you live at least ¼ of your life there. Think and act according to how good you want that ¼ to be.

18. Anger weakens you. Remember that any anger you feel is generated by you, and not thrust on you by others. Curb it.

19. Trust is fragile – slowly established, and quickly torn down.

20. You can’t please everyone. Show respect to those you can’t please.

21. There is business strength in diversity and a variety of compatible styles.

22. Try to learn something from all people and situations.

23. Don’t burn bridges. Sometimes you find yourself crossing back over.

24. Truth is powerful and essential. If you always tell the truth, it isn’t difficult to remember what you said.

25. If you always speak with truth and respect, you don’t have to worry about who heard or talked about it.

26. Never underestimate what you can do if you really try.

27. Think before you speak. Words don’t go backwards.

28. Effective leadership requires the respect of those led.

29. Fame is fleeting. Doing the right thing endures.

30. All leaders have their time. Step down when that time is up.

30 ideas © 2012 R. Tomlinson