Published By Ron Carson
This is the time of year when many of us make resolutions and set big goals. Unfortunately, the promises we make to ourselves often get broken.
Why? Many of us take the DIY approach, start out with great enthusiasm and, as life brings interruptions, gradually lose focus. Even the most disciplined people find that this happens.
Wouldn’t it be great to pursue the financial goals you have set for this year with confidence? The good news is that it is very possible. The secret is working with a financial advisor who will help you measure your progress and adjust your financial plan when needed.
Working with a registered investment advisor will make it easy to create a plan that suits your life’s goals—and those of your partner, if you are part of a couple. An experienced fiduciary advisor will help you fine-tune your plan when necessary and stay committed to it. A good personal financial advisor will also be familiar with many of the challenges that tend to derail investors and help you avoid them.
Your financial advisor will also make it easy for you to keep tabs on your progress. At our firm Management, our financial advisory firm in Omaha, our clients have access to a personal dashboard that shows them exactly how much their savings are building and their investments are doing, instantly. The dashboard offers a holistic view of their finances, showing them their personal net worth when all of their assets and debts are considered.
Of course, even with an experienced financial advisor and the right technology to measure your returns, you will still need to commit personally to taking the actions in your financial plan. An advisor can show you easier ways to sock away money, such as automating your deposits, but you will still need to be the one to earn the money and save it.
The best tools I know to keep you focused on pursuing the financial benchmarks you set are two simple exercises: the Essential Six and Most Vital. They will help you stay focused on what is most important in your life, so you can look at your dashboard any day of the year and see measurable progress.
In the Essential Six, you identify your top six priorities for the day. They may be professional priorities or other priorities that support your life’s goals, such as working out or going on a date night with your spouse. The Most Vital is the big goal you must accomplish for the week. The first item on the list of the Essential Six is typically tied to the Most Vital for the week.
At the end of every workday, list the Essential Six important things you must accomplish the following day, in order of importance, and add them to your calendar. Doing this the night before allows your subconscious to begin to work on your tasks in advance—to prepare for the day ahead. Begin your day by tackling item number one on your list. Do not move on to number two until you have successfully completed the first task. You will be surprised by how much easier it is to stay on track with your personal priorities, like saving or investing, if you are focused on getting big things done, and not “putting out fires” at work.
Every week, it is also important to set your Most Vital—the top goal you truly need to accomplish. Naming it at the end of the week or on the weekend gives your subconscious the opportunity to work on it so you will have clarity going into the week. If your goal for the year is to create a financial plan, a Most Vital for this week might be to phone an advisor and set up an appointment. Once your financial plan is in place, your Most Vital might be to spend a half hour familiarizing yourself with the tools available to you for monitoring your progress.
As you focus more on what really matters to you, you may find that your financial priorities change, too. You may decide you want to change your lifestyle or live somewhere new. A good financial advisor will help you adapt your financial plans to your present goals, so they are in sync, and continue to measure your progress. As you evolve as an individual, your financial plan should, too—and support you in your life’s dreams.