About the Author
David Fulton is a Colorado Springs, CO fee-only financial planner providing Hourly and On-Going Financial Planning and Investment Management. While he works with a broad range of clients, David specializes in working with Active and Retired Military, Federal Employees, and Families with Special Needs Children.
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“If you don’t align your financial resources to your values, your money isn’t making a difference”
Are You Living a Life of Intention?
Living with intention is about being deliberate with how we create our lives. It’s about knowing what’s important and keeping that in the forefront of our minds when we choosing how to spend our time, our money, and our talents. Throughout our lives, we will undoubtedly have experiences that will take us off track and set us back from reaching our goals. However, if we are living with intention it will be easier to refocus our efforts and recommit to what’s important. Failing to be intentional may cause you to:
- Make irrational decisions when reacting to unexpected events
- Forget your priorities when making tough choices
- Focus on things that you think will bring you joy in the near term, but ultimately won't bring you happiness
- Sacrifice future opportunities, because of the choices you make today.
If we live with intention, we’ll have a greater sense of purpose and our actions will be in alignment with our objectives. Take these four steps today to live intentionally:
Step 1: Define Your Purpose
Before we can live a life of intention, we must first define our purpose. Our purpose is simply what it is we want to achieve and why we want to achieve it. The WHAT is the easy part, however, the WHY takes a bit more work. You’ve probably heard of Simon Sinek’s preeminent book Start With Why. While the book is a staple on the leadership development circuit, it does hold some truths in financial planning that are worth exploring.
According to Sinek, once you understand your WHY, you’ll be able to articulate what makes you feel fulfilled and better understand what drives your behavior. When you can do that, you’ll have a point of reference for everything you do going forward and you’ll be able to make more intentional choices for your life.
From a financial perspective, it means carefully analyzing those financial goals you want to achieve. Why is that goal important? What does it allow you to do? How does it make you feel? and what are you willing to give up to achieve it? Only when we have determined what you want to achieve can we align the resources necessary to do so. Aligning resources is the easy part. Unfortunately, it’s what most financial advisors in this industry want to focus on. However, without first developing this list of goals grounded in your WHY, managing resources becomes a pointless exercise.
Step 2: Define the End State
Identifying the end state goes hand in glove with identifying your purpose. While your purpose is an articulation of WHY you want to achieve an objective, the end state defines WHERE it is you want to be when you have arrived. We must define this end state in terms of where we want to end up physically, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually. A clear definition of the end state will allow us to align intermediate goals and resources to ensure we arrive on time, at the right place, with the right people by our side, and for the right reasons.
Step 3: Identify Intermediate Goals
Resources are finite. Whether, we are talking about our time, our energy, or our talents. When it comes to money, we know we can generally earn more during our working years. However, when it comes to our time and how we choose to employ our talents we have much greater constraints. Aligning our resources should take into consideration how we want to spend all three types of capital.
To employ this capital most efficiently we should develop S.M.A.R.T. goals to help focus our efforts. A S.M.A.R.T. goal is simply a construct that breaks our goals into the level of detail we need to take concrete steps towards achieving them. It stands for:
Specific: Goals should be simplistically written and clearly define what you are going to do. Specific is the What, How, and Why. It should determine what the goal will accomplish and how and why it will be accomplished.
Measurable: Goals should be measurable so that you have evidence that you have accomplished the goal. You must determine how you will measure whether or not the goal has been reached.
Achievable: Goals should be achievable; they should be aimed at the upper limit rather than the lower limit, but still defined well enough so that you can achieve them. You must be capable of achieving the goal and have the necessary knowledge, skills, and attributes required to achieve them.
Results-focused: Goals should measure outcomes. They should define the reason, purpose, or benefit of accomplishing the goal and the result (not activities leading up to the result).
Time-bound: Your goals should instill a sense of urgency. Without feeling a sense of urgency, you will likely push it to the back burner. A time-bound goal has a well-defined end date.
(**Want to know more about S.M.A.R.T. Goals? You can check out an article I wrote here.)
Step 4: Align Your Resources
The final step is simply taking our S.M.A.R.T goals and aligning our resources accordingly. Often, we are inclined to jump straight to Step 4. We want to talk about the different types of investing and savings strategies with a focus on returns and market-driven data. Honestly, these things don’t matter nearly as much as we like to think. 95% of our success and failures will be a result of our focus and discipline to stick to a plan, with the remaining 5% accounting for the strategies we use to implement it.
Why Should You Care?
If you live an intentional life you will have:
- Clarity and Focus on what you want to achieve
- Confidence and Comfort in knowing your plan can withstand the inevitable ups and downs
- You will Progress towards a defined and clear endstate
- Your Perspective will grow, giving you a much greater understanding of how your actions will impact your success.
How I can Help
I believe that the value of what we do is in the planning process and developing a plan with Intention is the most important thing we can do together. Purely focusing on available resources and investment strategies is a secondary, and much less important part of the picture. As a Fiduciary, I only work for you and am obligated to act in your best interest at all times and collaboratively build a plan of intention.