It has been two weeks since the deadly shooting in Las Vegas. The incident showed both good and bad side of the humanity to the world. One person was trying to kill many innocent people. But at the same time, many people were willing to risk their own lives helping others, including strangers. I was made to give a second thought about the purpose and meaning of our life. I always ask three questions to my clients to make sure that their financial goals align with the deepest value of their lives. Today, I would like to share these questions and my personal answers with you. I hope it can help more people beyond my clients.
The three-question exercise is a part of EVOKE® Life Planning Process created by George Kinder who is recognized as the father of the Life Planning movement. You could learn more about it at Kinder Institute of Life Planning and even go through the whole process by yourself for free here. Now, let’s look at the questions.
Provided that you are financially secure and that you have all the money you need for the rest of your life, how would you live your life? Would you change anything? If you do, how will you do it? Let yourself go. Don't hold back on your dreams.
My answers: I will either join or create a non-profit organization which is dedicated to making real financial planning services available to people who cannot afford it.
This time you visit your doctor who tells you that you have only 5 – 10 more years to live. The good news is that you won’t ever feel sick. The bad news is that you will have no notice of the moment of your death. What will you do in the remaining years?
My answers: I will make sure that my family members have enough financial resources to support the desired lifestyle for the rest of their lives and then enjoy my time with them until the end.
This time your doctor shocks you with the news that you have only one day left to live. Notice what feelings arise as you confront your very real mortality. Reflecting on your life, on all your accomplishments as well as on all the things that will remain undone, ask yourself: What did I miss? Who did I not get to be? What did I not get to do?
My answers: If I have to face the above situation, I may regret that there are so many things I haven’t done with my wife together, like having a dog, owning our own home, raising kids, traveling all over the world, etc. I may regret that I have not repaid gratefulness to my parents, relatives, friends, and people who have helped me before and the society as a whole.
I did this three-question exercise last year with my wife together. We shared our answers with each other, and we were both in tears with love. Since then, we made a couple of changes. We established our own firm together trying to make real financial planning service available and affordable to young Chinese professionals in the U.S. I started doing pro-bono financial planning for people who cannot afford this valuable service. Even though we haven’t had any children or debts and my wife has enough income to cover her living expenses, I decided to get a life insurance to help her live a better life at least financially if anything happens to me. I did a financial plan for my parents and made sure they can enjoy their life after retirement. We went through our financial goals under different timeframe and created our own financial plan.
The three-question exercise helped me clarify what matters most to me in my life. Every time an important decision needs to be made, whether it is for my personal life or my business, I will revisit my answers and make sure my decision will not deviate from it. So, what're your financial goals? Does it align with the value of your life or life goals? I highly recommend you taking thirty minutes to go through this exercise seriously. I hope you could get a lot from it as I did.