What will your story say?
For most people, writing is tough—not just from a grammatical standpoint, but from a topical standpoint. What should I write about? What should I say? What will others think of my work? And when it comes down to it, we are often our own greatest critics.

What does writing have to do with financial life planning? In a way, financial life planning is a lot like writing the story of your life—your future life. You decide what you want your next
chapters to look like and then work with your financial life advisor to make those inspiring next chapters a reality.

As you think about the future trajectory of the story of your life, ask yourself the following questions. Not only will this exercise give you some perspective on what’s happened so far, but
will help you visualize what you’d like to achieve five, ten, or even twenty years down the road.

1. What are you most proud of achieving so far?

In order to get where we’re going, we should begin by mindfully assessing where we’ve been. From there, we can dream big, set goals, and work hard every day to make progress. After 27 years in this business, I can tell you that the happiest and most successful people are those who take the time to live intentionally, both looking forward but also looking back.

Make a list of the things that you’ve achieved thus far in your life that you are particularly proud of. Not only will this give you a little confidence boost as you begin putting together your next big goals, but helps you to see where you feel you are currently lacking. Have you excelled in your career, but maybe haven’t been contributing enough to your retirement account each
month? Or perhaps you’ve been working on other personal goals—like training for a 5K—and have neglected other areas of your life in the process?

The great thing about this exercise is that you can apply it to just about any aspect of your life. Long-term financial goals might start with a brown bag lunch three days per week and increasing monthly contributions to your retirement accounts. A fitness goal might start with taking a long walk every morning. And creating your own dream company might start with an online class you take to learn a new skill or earn a new certification.Where did it start? How is it going? And where should you go from here?

2. How do you want to impact others?

Depending on where you are in your life, the word “legacy” will tend to hold a different amount of weight. For example, pre-retirees and retirees who are actively working on the best strategies to pass their accumulated assets to their heirs may think a lot more about their legacy than someone in the early stages of their career who is naturally more focused on increasing earning power, maybe even starting a family, and staying on solid financial ground. Heirs and legacies and “what’s left behind” isn’t exactly top of mind in the earlier years.

But, would you be surprised if I told you that your legacy is bigger than how much money you can leave to your heirs? It’s about the impact you leave on the people and communities around you—and that starts as soon as you are able to make your own choices and decisions with your life. I bet your middle school teachers remember certain details about who you are, what you accomplished, and the impact you made on your school and your classmates. In a way, this is your legacy there.

So, as you approach “writing the next chapter” so you can build a financial life plan to make it a reality, think about the influence you’d like to have. Authoring these kinds of life stories doesn’t just happen. Living your best life possible with the money you have is a process that combines long-term vision with intentional planning.

3. If you could “have it all,” what would that look like?

This is the fun part. This is the part where you allow yourself to start dreaming big. Think about all the things you’d like to do, be, and achieve in the future. The great part is that these goals will be completely unique to you. You don’t need anyone’s approval to choose what you want to author into your life.

Do you want to own a second home? Earn another million dollars? Fully fund your children’s (or grandchildren’s) college funds? What will make you feel most fulfilled? And if you are married, you may choose to complete this part of the exercise both alone and with your spouse to see where your plans align and diverge for more purposeful planning.

The goals you identify here are exactly what you and your financial life planner will sit down and evaluate in creating your financial plan. Remember, the purpose of a financial plan isn't just to earn more money. It’s to grow assets that help you live a life that makes you feel fulfilled and proud—because these are the feelings that will contribute most to your overall happiness and contentment.

Putting Pen to Paper: Aligning Your Goals with Your Financial Life Plan

If you need help writing your next chapter, let’s chat. This is truly one of the most exciting and rewarding parts of the job for both myself and clients—except, of course, for watching all the dreams become a reality.

Will you be next?

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice orrecommendations for any individual