If I asked you right now what do you want from your life, what would your immediate answer be? A sports car? To travel the world? To retire?

While these are all valid goals for some, they are often mentioned because they are the obvious expected ones. Generally speaking, when you ask people what they want, they will normally respond with the standard material things of houses, cars, holidays and retirement or they will become very reserved and say nothing at all.  

But are these things truly what you want? It is always worth delving a little deeper and then deeper still.


The proof is in the plan

When considering future goals and objectives, it is important to also set a timeline and, if a material goal, a value for these too. These don’t have to be accurate at this stage, just get something down; values and timelines can be adjusted. An example of this would be:

  • I would like to be able to retire at age 67 while having an income of £30,000 per year; Or
  • I would like to be able to gift my daughter £50,000 for a house deposit when she reaches age 25

A couple of non-material goals may be:

  • I would like to get a degree in Ancient History when I retire, or:
  • I would like to be in a position to dedicate 10 hours per week to my favourite charity. 

When you first start this process, you may think: ‘It’s a sports car’ or ‘Oh, it’s the holiday home’.

But go deeper, and very often it’s not the sports car or holiday home as such that is important but more the quality of life things – health, financial security, being safe, being secure, passing on money to the children and so on. 

And then once you have got to that point, it then becomes the more vocational things that you aspire to, things that would provide fulfilment and a sense of personal growth and meaning – charity work, voluntary work, going back to University, career change maybe. 


No ‘one size fits all’

These things are only possible however, if someone has the confidence and assurance that they have that kind of financial security. Unless you are prepared to live the life of a Buddhist monk or a hermit, no matter what you do, to some degree or other, money will still be important to you. 

Your goals will be totally different to mine and to your neighbours’; similarly  “financial security” for one will be total insecurity for others. This process is about gaining that clarity over what it is that you want; helping to quantify what your number (financial security) is and then putting in place the methods to achieve both that financial security and the goals you want out of life. 

You will hopefully begin to see by now that while there may well be some common themes, everyone’s Financial Plan will be totally different and is not something that you can just buy or download from the internet.

Generally speaking, coming up with some material and even non-material goals should not prove difficult. The challenge is then getting to the bottom of what is really important to you, and when it comes to the crunch, what becomes insignificant.


Sample Questions

Here are some example questions to get you started:

  • “What are some things that you would like, that require time, money and planning to achieve”? List them out.
  • “If I had a magic wand, waved it now and you knew that you had all the money you will ever need for the rest of your life, what would you be doing and thinking right now?”. Let your mind wander, think big and dream.
  • “If we were meeting back here in exactly three years’ time, what has to have happened over those three years, both personally and professionally for you to be happy with your progress?” Note, this question comes from the book “The Dan Sullivan’s Question” by Dan Sullivan of Strategic Coach. It is a great way to get you thinking about the ‘short-term’ – it will help bring into focus some short-term gains and action points. 
  • “If you knew you couldn’t fail, what would you be doing right now”?
  • “Where would you like to see yourself in five years’ time? Working? Living abroad?”


More questions?

Have fun with this process, dare to dream, don’t hold back and write everything down. Consider it a “brainstorming” exercise and remember the facilitator for this, CFP™ or partner’s role in this is to ask the questions and then to listen (and write everything down of course). If it is easier, record the discussion using a smartphone or dictation machine so that you can refer back to it  – we record all of our Discovery Meetings in the office. Recording the discussion in this way helps with the active listening; there is greater concentration on the listening and question asking rather than the writing down.

Once you have played with some of these questions, and there are loads more samples available online and in other resource books, then it will be time to get some further clarity around what are the most important things to you. 

George Kinder – author of “Seven Stages of Money Maturity”, and “Lighting the Torch” and “Life Planning for You” – has three great questions that should be answered in strict order.  

Ask yourself the following:

  • If you had five years to live, what would you do with your remaining time?
  • If you had one month to live, what would you do?
  • If you had 24 hours to live, what would you do? 

It is likely that the three answers are completely different. They are designed to help you focus in on what is really important to you and will help you prioritise your goals. It will also hopefully help put money and what it can do for you into context as without things like life, health and love, pretty much everything else becomes irrelevant. 


Where do I start?

If I asked you right now what do you want from your life, what would your immediate answer be? A sports car? To travel the world? To retire or, perhaps, to leave a legacy?

All of us have things that we would like to achieve in our lives. It could be two, five or ten years down the line, or perhaps we may want to leave a legacy of some kind. To realise these dreams, we need to be both focused and financially organised. This is the essence of True Lifestyle Financial Planning

It’s with this lesson in mind that I set out to write my book, Live Life With Purpose: A Guide to Getting a Life Plan and Sticking With It. This book will help you take the steps to live life with purpose. It will help you gain clarity. It will show you how to implement the six steps needed to create a sound Life and Financial Plan so you can ultimately achieve your goals.

We’re offering free copies of Live Life With Purpose to anybody who feels they would benefit from it. Simply go to this page, tell us where to send it, and we’ll pop a copy in the post for you.

I hope you enjoy reading the book and putting into practice some or all of the lessons it contains. Even if just one idea sparks you into taking some action, then I have achieved what I set out to do.