360 Private Wealth Management - The Natural Wealth™ Process: Vision
Be, Do, Have
As this year draws to a close and a new year beckons before us, it’s a great time to stop and take a look at the picture of our lives we painted for ourselves and for others in this past year and consider the possibilities a clean canvas can present us in the year to come.
Here at 360 Private Wealth Management, we try to guide our client households using our proprietary financial life planning method, the “The Natural Wealth™ Process.” The Natural Wealth™ Process is a holistic approach to financial life planning, which highlights each of the various elements of a complete financial life plan in 90-day focus periods over the course of each calendar year. The elements in the system include Wealth, Tax (and Estate), Cash (Flow), and Risk. Vision is the fifth element at the core of The Natural Wealth™ Process model.
Vision is a constant reference in view throughout each planning year. Vision (goals or planning objectives) is the base element of any sustainable financial life plan. Vision, simply stated, is the reason for having a financial life plan. It is the “Why?” of the plan. It is at the same time a destination and a compass. Vision breathes life into the numbers!
I was humbled this past fall when I visited a successful and busy client household in Southern Ontario while I was on one of my what I call “Walkabouts” (times when I get out from behind my desk and go out and see clients in their world). These trips let me see where clients live and learn on a more personal level about their challenges and celebrations in life. One of the spouses opened a kitchen cupboard door to show me their version of a household life Vision and how they collectively see it every time they open that cupboard door. That simple glance, on a regular basis, helps them stay focused on the most important things in their collective lives. They know who they are. Some other client households will know who they are if I were to describe them in more detail, so I won’t out of respect for them. I want to thank them for sharing their life Vision statement with me and how it has helped them be more effective in staying focused on their goals. Despite several real challenges over the last few years, this family attributes having that Vision statement there and visible during some of the most challenging days for at least some of their resilience and personal and financial progress as a family. I challenge more of you to consider the exercise.
Each household’s Vision is based on its own philosophy of life, values, and purpose. It is unique to each individual and family. Here’s the most important thing to understand about Vision… Either you have a Vision and an agenda in life, or you risk becoming part of someone/something else’s; someone who, or something which has no interest in you or your family’s well-being... Think about that line for a minute. I hope it awakens a sense of importance about having your own personal and household life Vision, goals, and objectives to guide your thinking and actions in the future.
I have participated in many planning workshops and read extensively on the subject over the years to make my Vision planning more effective and to find ways of helping our client households develop better, more inspiring life-planning Vision statements.
From all of my research and reading, I have fashioned what I think is a pretty good approach to creating a life Vision and testing your ongoing actions to determine whether they are taking you closer to your Vision or farther away.
All you need is a blank piece of paper. It can be 8.5” X 11,” or it can be poster size. In this exercise, I recommend handwriting (or printing!) your answers and notes. I believe one’s hand, actually writing things down, is more connected to the brain than typing on a keyboard. That’s why some of the greatest writers in the world, since the invention of typewriters and word processors, still prefer writing their outlines and manuscripts by hand versus typing them.
You can write your thoughts and observations or use a “mind-mapping” approach. There is no right or wrong way to do this exercise. As your answers and thoughts appear before you, you can fashion your statements to fit your ability to engage with the resulting life Vision. You can make the user version a written document, a posterboard, or a mind map you can put somewhere where you will see it, ideally, daily.
Now, on to the exercise itself. The approach is to have our households ask themselves and other stakeholders three questions:
- Who/What do I/we want to BE?
- What do I/we want to DO?
- What do I/we want to HAVE?
BE, DO HAVE, in that order! The order is essential! As I have written many times, I have sat with people in their last days. I can safely say that our visits and their reflections revolved mainly around family, friends, life experiences, and accomplishments. These are the BE’s and DO’s of life. I have yet to have conversations about the size of their house or cottage, their cars, or their lifestyle toys and gadgets. When we get to that point when the end of our life is near, we see what really mattered in life, and it seldom is the stuff we accumulated. It’s too bad more people wouldn’t think longer and harder, contemplating “what really matters” in their lives earlier. Human nature, I guess…
So let’s go deeper into each of the three Vision questions. First up:
Who/What do I/we want to BE? Why?
What is a “BE?” Well, just about anything, really. There are no fences around each of these questions and, right or wrong answers.
Think about your BE’s in this way; your BE’s will be what people say about you while you are alive and at your funeral. It will be how people see you as a person.
BE could be an abstract or value-based objective (i.e., BE happy; BE healthy; BE kind; BE a good friend; BE a good spouse and/or parent… or BE could be more focused and defined or work-related…BE a community leader, an activist for a great cause; BE a good doctor, dentist, lawyer, or accountant, or BE the “top selling realtor in the market.” I caution people about hanging their psychological hat on being the “best” at anything relative to anyone else. Much better (and mentally healthier!) is measuring oneself by being the absolute best of something YOU can be.
In developing a list of BE’s you want to contemplate what “BE’ing” happy, healthy, a good spouse or parent or “BE’ing” a good community leader or professional or trade means to you. How will you know when you get there? What will it look like or feel like? More detail equals more clarity.
Once you have written down your answers to the “Be” question, you can test your answers for connection and inspiration by simply asking “Why?”; “Why do you want to be a good friend, good spouse or parent, or, be a doctor, mechanic or teacher?” Why is your BE important to you? It is an excellent “clarifier” to write down your reasons for wanting to BE something or someone in particular. If you are engaged in the exercise, you will know which BE’s are motivating and inspiring and which are less so, which ones tug hard at your heartstrings and which ones tug less.
The next step is to review and prioritize your BE’s so you can focus more energy on the most important ones. Pick one or two you might want to focus more on in the next 12 weeks while still being mindful of the other BE’s on your list.
Figure out what you need to do to accomplish your BE list and, more importantly, on your highest priority BE’s. At the end of 12 weeks, you can reassess how you are doing on your higher priority BE’s and look at changes to be more effective
You may have a long list of “BE’s or a short list. Your list will change over time. Some seemingly important Be’s will become less important or even drop off your list. What is important at one stage of life is often less important at another. It is only natural as we age and gain better clarity on many things.
Pick the Be that resonates most with you and build a plan to help you realize this BE over the next 12 months.
What do I/we want to DO?
What is a DO? A DO is any personal or career activity or accomplishment you want to realize in your lifetime. DO’s can be career-related, or they can be a pastime or hobby. Do’s can be related to a desire to accomplish something for and with your family, community, or for the greater good of the wider world around you. What do you want to DO in your lifetime? What do you want to accomplish and experience?
Do you want to build a business? Do you want to be a true professional in your chosen field of work?
Do you want to travel? To where? Is there a part of the world you really would like to see before you die? Is there more than one?
Do you have a community cause that resonates with you? Is there someplace you can apply your talents to make a difference in your community or even the world?
DO’s and BE’s are your life’s ultimate tapestry. How you weave experiences and accomplishments, the threads of a lifetime will ultimately result in the intricate and complex piece of art that will be your life, when you look in the mirror and back on life, hopefully well-lived.
I received an email from a client this past weekend who is now under palliative care. Her email was a message of gratitude, not just thanking us for our work on her and her family’s behalf, but a much bigger message of thankfulness for her life and for the things she was able to BE and DO. Carole was a good mother to her children, making more than her fair share of sacrifices for their collective well-being. She was a dedicated employee for some people I’ve come to know and respect. She worked hard to provide for herself and her family. She managed to buy and own a lovely home here in the city. Towards the end of her life, she was able to purchase and own a small cottage property where she spent some of the most precious and happiest times in her life. Her face would positively beam with pride and joy when we talked about her place at the lake. I am so happy she was able to do this for herself.
But one of her greatest accomplishments in life was to help found an entertainment group, a “choir” called the “Sisters of the Holy Rock” which has traveled throughout Manitoba, Northwestern Ontario, Saskatchewan, and North Dakota. The “Sisters of the Holy Rock” are a 100% volunteer-operated organization that has raised more than $3,500,000 for worthwhile causes in many communities over the last, almost 30 years of their existence. They have been honoured by the province and various other entities for the work they have done for communities and charities in Manitoba and beyond. I have been blessed to have attended a couple of performances. It is truly a professional show worthy of all the accolades they have been given. And there, at the podium with her orchestral baton in hand, was Carole Stone directing the music and setting up the gags and jokes that are a part of this great show. If you are not already familiar with the “Sisters of the Holy Rock,” here is a link to a Winnipeg Free Press story from 2018 about the group:
(Note that the story may be behind a paywall. For digital subscribers, it will be accessible. For others, you may have to have to register with the Winnipeg Free Press to access the story. It should still be free under a free article limit. If you can’t access the article and wish to read it, email us and we will send you an access link.)
When we got together over the years, Carole was always quick to deflect the conversation from herself and try and turn the discussion to me and my life asking how I was doing and how my family members were doing, remembering them by name. She was genuinely interested in others.
Carole gave of “herself” generously in her lifetime, her time, and boundless energy. I am truly blessed to have known Carole Stone. She is a real-life example of the “BE” and “DO” I talk about passionately in coaching people on crafting a Vision for their lives and financial life plans. Thank you, Carole!
What about you and your family? What do you want to see, do and accomplish in your life? Write your DO’s down. What do you want to see, do and accomplish in the next 12 months? What kind of progress towards these DO’s would you like to make in the next 12 weeks? Prioritize them. Some DO’s will take more time and require more money to make happen than others. These may require more planning. Which ones resonate most with you right now? Once you have chosen the most inspiring DO’s, build a plan to make them happen.
What do I/we want to HAVE?
This brings us to the HAVE in the BE, DO, HAVE approach we take in helping client households draft their Vision within our proprietary Natural Wealth™ Process.
What is a HAVE? Simply stated, HAVE’s are things. They are the “stuff” we accumulate in life. HAVE’s would include an owned home, perhaps a cottage and/or a sun-belt residence for the fortunate. HAVE’s will include all the appliances, furniture, and decorations inside our properties and the various tools and equipment we need to take care of our properties. HAVE’s include our vehicles and lifestyle “toys”, like boats, snowmobiles, and motorcycles. It includes our clothes and all our other possessions.
Look around. Please look around… How many of these things do you think you will be thinking about when you find yourself under palliative care or in another end-of-life situation? In my humblest experience, interacting with dying people in my life, very few… If you are thinking of your things, it will likely be because of the joy you felt being able to share them with (not SHOW them to…) the people who matter most in your life.
I want to take a timeout here. Please understand me when I say I am NOT against owing things in life. I have a sailboat on Lake of the Woods I sail in the summers. My sailboat is a HAVE under the definition I am putting forth here. The time I spend on my boat with family and friends gives me great pleasure, joy, and a real appreciation for the beauty and power of nature. It is MY happy place. I hope to be healthy enough to sail for many more years on my boat. I have a couple of sailboat owner friends who are still sailing their boats in their 80s, who give me hope that might be possible!
We have clients who enjoy fishing and who own a boat to fish. Some have camping trailers they use in the summer months. We have clients who enjoy snowmobiling. They own a snowmobile or two. We have clients who hunt, and ski, and a few who fly their own airplanes. Pastimes and passions often require owning the gear to pursue them. This is understandable.
Here’s what I have learned in life: Stuff = Stress. The more things you own, the more stress you have taking care of them. You must maintain them, store them, and often own insurance on them. Houses and cottages, vehicles, and lifestyle toys often require repairs and renovations. In many cases, you have to pay someone to maintain and repair them.
When it comes to the HAVE stuff, I ask clients to be mindful of what they need versus what they want. I am not saying NOT to buy that nice home. I am saying be mindful of the trade-off as far as life energy and money that owning that home, a cottage, or a newer vehicle or boat will require over the time you own it. That’s all. Reflect before you buy. Doing so may eliminate the possibility of regret after you buy.
What are the HAVES you wish to own? Make a list of the things you want to own. Besides the things you have written down, write the question “Why?”. “Why do I want to own a… house, car, boat (whatever the item might be)? Think about the real cost of buying and owning the item and the trade-offs you might have to make from an experiential standpoint. Again, people find joy in owning a house and a nice yard, driving a nice car, being able to go fishing, and taking friends in their boat. These are legitimate answers to “Why?”.
Review your list. Prioritize the items on the list and then build a plan to fund the purchase. It may require saving all, or a portion, of the purchase price as a down payment. This might require additional hours of work or a “side hustle” to fund. It might require adjusting your cash flow plan, delaying, or even dropping other things on your BE, DO, HAVE list to come up with the free cash flow to allow you to save the purchase price or down payment to fund the purchase.
Conclusion and Next Steps
Do the BE, DO, HAVE exercise. If you live in a household or relationship, consider doing the BE, DO, HAVE exercise and building your life plan Vision together. There is power in a group approach to planning your household VISION and getting buy-in from all the parties affected by some of the actions you will need to take to have the goals and objectives in your VISION become a reality. What a great way to educate your children about finance and the choices and consequences associated with life and money!
If you need help, we would happily work with you to construct your life plan VISION. It’s important to us to know a household’s VISION and goals, and objectives. It helps us make your overall financial life plan more effective for you and your family. If you want our help, please call, or email us, and we will book a VISION planning session with you.
In my humblest opinion, BE, DO, HAVE goes way beyond the Vision element in our financial life planning system. As you can see, I am pretty passionate about it! I view BE, DO, and HAVE as a life compass around which I try to plan and live my own life. At 360 Private Wealth Management, we share the concept and exercise with as many people as we can.
Over this Holiday Season or as early in the New Year as possible, consider taking the time to do the BE, DO, HAVE exercise and draft a life plan VISION with goals and objectives for the next year and the next three or even five years. Consider breaking the achievement of the goals and dreams into four 12-week periods throughout the calendar year. There is power in doing this. More on this in another blog.
Ask yourself, “If I/we were sitting here one year, and/or three years, and even five years from now, what would I/we like to see as having happened over that time in our life, as far as our life plan VISION goals and objectives are concerned?”
Once you have completed the BE, DO, HAVE exercise, we will work with you to “reverse engineer” the goal or objective and set up the steps and actions needed, set up progress measures, and arrange the tools needed to help you make your life VISION and goals and objectives a reality. So please feel free to share your life VISION and goals and objectives with us
If you have questions about any part of the “BE, DO, HAVE” exercise, on building an inspiring life VISION, or any other aspect of the Natural Wealth Process, call or email us.
Wishing you and everyone around you the best of the Holiday Season and Health, Wealth, and Happiness in the year to come!
David J. Luke, CFP, RFP, CLU, CH.F.C., CIM, RIAC | Financial Advisor
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