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Start with "Why", then settle on the "What"

Start with "Why", then settle on the "What"

July 28, 2021
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When speaking with people about what they want to achieve financially, I often hear loosely defined goals like “I want to retire early,” “I don’t want to worry about money,” or “I want to buy a vacation home.” On the surface, these all sound like perfectly reasonable financial objectives. But how do you know those are the right goals for you? How do you know you are focusing on solutions to the right problems?

To help determine what you want, try digging deeper and begin with a focus on why you want it and how it will contribute to your long-term happiness and fulfillment. Your underlying why is grounded in your values and what you ultimately want in life to be happy and fulfilled. Isn’t that what we’re all really trying to accomplish? Once you understand your underlying why, you can then align what you do next in your goals.

Using one of the earlier examples, you may think you want to buy a vacation home so you can spend more time together as a family while your children or grandchildren are young. In this case, the vacation home is the what, and shared family time is the underlying why.

The connection between a vacation home and time together as a family may seem like it makes sense, but what if buying that second home takes years to accomplish and involves sacrificing other opportunities? Or maybe it means spending significantly more time at work to pay for it? Or perhaps you can afford the house, but the demands of your work keep you in an isolated room, responding to emails and in virtual meetings instead of being present with your family?

In this case, if the underlying why is family time while children are young, you may find the solution is not a vacation home in the future but taking more vacation time now, and every year, when you can shut off your phone and spend intentional, quality time with your growing family.

How are you using your money and resources to live the best life you want to live? Before jumping into financial goals, let’s start with a conversation focused on understanding what matters most to you. Knowing the problem that you’re ultimately trying to solve is the first step in identifying goals and aligning financial plans to achieve what you really want in your life.

Tim Drake helps individuals and families build and align their finances for living a fulfilled life. Working with integrity and mutual respect, his comprehensive process includes investments, debt and cash flow management, insurance, and tax, retirement, and estate strategies. He is a Senior Financial Advisor at Pegasus Financial Planning, a fiduciary, fee-based Registered Investment Advisor (RIA).