Many would agree that as years go, 2020 was the equivalent of a dumpster fire for most of the world. It started out well enough with everyone living their lives as they always have. Then whispers started about a mysterious disease emerging from China. Sometime in mid-February the whispers got a lot louder as the COVID-19 pandemic erupted around the world. Life as we knew it went off the rails for the rest of the year. As we end the year, when many millions of people around the world would otherwise be travelling and gathering to celebrate the holiday season, large swaths of the world are under various levels of lockdown in an attempt to stave off the worst of the pandemic until we can get vaccinated.
The good news is, with the announcements of two vaccine candidate approvals and other candidates in late-stage trials, there is some light at the end of the COVID tunnel! If we can hang in here just a little while longer, we can all can hopefully return to some semblance of normal life again in the year to come.
It would not be an over-statement in saying many people will emerge from the events of this past year thinking differently about life. We have had many conversations with households over the course of the last nine months where a notable number have had a different tone. People are reflecting on the lives they have been living. Some households are looking at making changes, choosing to shift their life energy and resources to live life differently than they have in the past. The COVID pandemic has been a disruptive and, for some amongst us, a life-threatening event. That said, it has created an opportunity for people to slow down and reflect on the lives they are living and consider changes going forward to try and make their lives more meaningful.
The core, the heart, of the Natural Wealth® Process is Vision. A functional financial life plan needs to have a reason “Why”. Vision is the “Why” of our planning process, creating the motivation for people to change behaviours and do the things required, sometimes with a measure sacrifice in the short term, to make the plan work for them and their families. In the Natural Wealth® Process model, Vision is ever present, always in view as we highlight each of the other elements of the process; Wealth, Tax and Estate, Cash Flow, and Risk, through the calendar year. These other financial elements of the plan are tuned to each household’s Vision; what they would like their “Be, Do and Have” goals and objectives to be over the course of their lifetimes.
We love building inspiring financial life plans. They inspire us as much as the household we are working with! Most planning exercises, and related advice available in the marketplace, revolve around cash flow planning for the essentials (shelter, food, clothing and transportation) and on investing for important household objectives (children’s education and retirement). Inspiring and energizing household financial life plans take things to the next level, adding individual and household aspirational goals and objectives to the planning process. The aspirational element takes financial life plan goals and objectives beyond managing cash and investing to a desire to make life truly better, even exceptional, given the personal and financial resources available, for ourselves, for our families, and even for our community. Aspirational goals and objectives take the Vision process “outside the box” of traditional planning to a place where we consider what could be possible if we stretched our imagination and resources. An exceptional “once in a lifetime” travel experience, a dream retirement residence, a funded education program for kids/grandkids…, a year away working for a favourite charity or cause, a family foundation supporting a favourite cause… The list of aspirational goals is endless and is personal to each household depending on their unique individual and family values.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, “aspirational” is an adjective from the noun” aspiration” which is defined as “a hope or ambition”. In our experience, an exceptional financial life plan is where a thoughtful, inspiring Vision with measurable goals and objectives, creates a plan which actually works beyond the practical elements of the plan. Accelerated debt reduction and elimination, and saving and investing, are possible for many households. But, paying off debt and investing can be boring. While all excellent financial objectives from a practical standpoint, these actions lack the joy associated with more targeted, lofty definable life goals and objectives we can open up to as a consequence. In short, WHY are you paying off debt and investing? What is the end game of the activities? What will you do with the wealth created? Will it buy you time to pursue other interests? Will you use the increased wealth to buy things you dream about owning? If applicable, will you use the increased wealth to expand opportunities for your family to pursue their life Vision? In short, what are you looking to accomplish with the increased wealth you are creating?
Given everything we have experienced over the last year, what has changed in your thinking about life and related financial goals and objectives? What changes, if any, are you and your household looking at as far as your life plan is concerned? If your thinking has changed, what would an ideal lifestyle look like now and, if not yet retired, what would an ideal retirement lifestyle look like? What things would you like to experience and/or what things would you like to have in your life now? Is this different from say, this time last year? How? Why?
We hope you will find time in coming days and weeks to reflect on the last year and to consider what you have determined is really important in your life as a consequence of what we have all experienced (and continue to experience!), individually and collectively, with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. If we are paying attention to the authorities this year, there will likely be more down time in households everywhere to use reflecting on what’s important and what you as a household are looking to achieve and accomplish in the months and years ahead.
We will continue this discussion over the next couple weeks with a Vision focussing exercise around our “Be, Do, Have” financial life planning philosophy.
In the meantime, if you need help with life and financial goal setting, we are here to guide you. Please feel free to call or email us for input and, if appropriate at your end, to arrange a meeting focussed on creating a life vision and inspiring goals and objectives for yourself and your family as the case may be. We can then work together, using all the tools available to us, in our capacity as financial life planners and investment and insurance advisors, to help make your unique life vision come true.
All the very best of the season to you and those around you!
David J. Luke, CFP, RFP, CLU, CH.F.C., CIM | Financial Advisor
360 Private Wealth Management | Manulife Securities Incorporated
Unit 1 – 25 Scurfield Boulevard, Winnipeg, MB R3Y 1G4
Main Office 204.925.5868 | Direct 204.925.2073| Fax 204.925.2263 | Toll Free 844.688.3656