What is Life Planning?
The financial planning industry has helped many people over the years define their goals and build a plan to save for retirement or college, manage their cash flow, and invest their assets. But there’s been something missing from this process.
Life Planning is the natural evolution, as it goes a step further in the financial planning process by getting to deeply know the client in order to help them uncover their true motivations. Unless there is an important financial decision that needs to be made immediately, the planning process begins with listening to the client’s desires, helping them visualize their ideal life, and creating a path that will help overcome any hurdles that may be in their way. A financial plan can then be built based on the client’s current circumstances as well as their ultimate goals. Basically, financial planning done right.
Life Planning Process
This process succeeds by using a mindfulness-based process that allows for the planner to truly connect with the client by actively listening to their needs and desires and connecting with them emotionally so that they get a clearer picture of a client’s entire self, not just their financial situation. And it all starts with listening. Yes, that’s right, listening. Financial planners are used to solving problems, and while that is still the case dealing with the client’s finances and investments, when it comes to life planning it’s all about giving the client the time and space to build and execute their own life plan, gently guiding them along the way.
For a planner to truly help others build their ideal life path, it helps to have first gone through the process yourself. To experience all the emotions that are involved so you can better relate with your clients as they go through the same process. That’s what make this so powerful for the client. To have someone on the other side of the table that’s also gone through the same experience.
I was fortunate enough recently to continue my journey in life planning by attending training with the Kinder Institute at the home of George Kinder, the father of the life planning movement. The Kinder Institute has been educating financial advisors on a better way to engage with clients by following the life planning process that has been effectively used with clients around the world.
Our recent life planner training retreat at George Kinder's home in Hana, Maui.
How Can Life Planning Help Me?
When it comes to leading your ideal life, for many people things seem to get in the way. Coming out of school, the initial focus is on finding a good job that pays well. Then it’s on to building a career, something you can do for the next 30+ years. Basically, trying to live the myth of the American Dream, especially as it relates to the focus on self and money. While all of that may be extremely rewarding, when you’re stuck in the weeds of day-to-day jobs and responsibilities, it’s easy to lose focus on what initially was important to you or the things you wanted to accomplish. Hobbies and interests may be put to the side. The career you initially envisioned may feel oppressive and the many anchors of life keep you from changing anything. The years pass slowly away.
So how can a life planner help you? They give you the permission to dream and to reignite those long-forgotten passions. To create a life that provides you freedom, joy, and fulfillment. To realize that beyond a career you should be looking for your mission in life. Getting paid to do what you love along with finding joy outside of work. Things that showcase your energy and passion. To realize that your life can be better. That typically the only person standing in your way is you!
To be sure, it’s not as simple as flipping a switch. There is work involved. But once you are free to express your true desires, and guided on a way to overcome any challenges, a plan can be built to achieve the things you were meant to achieve. It also becomes much easier and more fulfilling for you to stick to the plan and enjoy the journey knowing that you are on the way to building your ideal life.
The beautiful thing about this process - You are the one in charge the whole way. That’s right! With proper guidance, you come up with the vision of where you want your life to be. You find ways to overcome the hurdles that are in your way. And you execute the plan. If you follow the process laid out and led by your planner, you’ll see the results.
Most people will find a benefit from going through the Life Planning process, especially if you’re willing to be honest and open about your life within a confidential setting. You may be early in your career and searching for your true calling, mid-career and looking for a change, or preparing for a purposeful retirement. All will benefit from achieving the satisfaction of doing what they were put on this earth to do.
Once you start down this path, you‘ll notice your focus turning to finding joy in everyday life, building relationships, and being in the service of others. The feeling of freedom to do what you were meant to be doing. In short, how to be the best version of yourself that engages in a life that is fulfilling and rewarding.
Are you ready to live your ideal life? Have additional questions?
Jeff Spitzmiller is the CEO of Ohana Wealth & Life Planning based in Cincinnati, OH. Ohana specializes in life and financial planning along with ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) investing principles. The firm is an independent financial advisor and a fee-only fiduciary. Jeff and the firm also enjoy volunteering and giving back to the local community. You can reach Jeff at firstname.lastname@example.org.