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“Return on Life”

return-on-lifeWe have all heard the phrase “return on investment” and that is measurable, but have you ever considered what your “return on life” (ROL) was in the past year?

I recently read a blog discussing the “Return on Life” concept and describing the 6 core values a GOOD financial planner provides. It referenced an industry coach, Mitch Anthony, who first introduced this concept to me early in my career.  The idea of focusing all my attention on how investments have performed has never been particularly attractive to me. ROL is an exciting and motivating concept and though it can’t be measured numerically, it’s importance is significantly greater than return on investment.

I have met many people over the years from all over the country with different backgrounds, education and career paths. Despite their differences, they have many common concerns. These are some of the questions and answers that I like to explore with my clients in their planning stage.

These issues are manifold and include the following:

  • How will we make the best use of our time and energy?
  • How will we ensure we are prepared (from a personal health and well-being perspective)?
  • How will we continue to challenge ourselves?
  • What role will we play in our parents’ future?
  • What role will we play in our children’s future?
  • What kind of legacy will we leave?
  • How will we define success—beyond money?

Most of our money is simply reflected by numbers on an account statement.  It only comes to life when it is connected to one of the significant values in your life. I suggest you bring issues like these to your advisor so that your financial plan reflects your custom answers to these types of questions.

While I’m on the subject, of financial planners, the article mentioned 6 core values that a “Good” financial planner provides:Graphics_6-Core-Values-Extra-Small

  1. Organization. We will help bring order to your financial life, by assisting you in getting your financial house in order (at both the “macro” level of investments, insurance, estate, taxes, etc., and also the “micro” level of household cash flow).
  2. Accountability. We will help you follow through on financial commitments, by working with you to prioritize your goals, show you the steps you need to take, and regularly review your progress towards achieving them.
  3. Objectivity. We bring insight from the outside to help you avoid emotionally driven decisions in important money matters, by being available to consult with you at key moments of decision-making, doing the research necessary to ensure you have all the information, and managing and disclosing any of our own potential conflicts of interest.
  4. Proactivity. We work with you to anticipate your life transitions and to be financially prepared for them, by regularly assessing any potential life transitions that might be coming, and creating the action plan necessary to address and manage them ahead of time.
  5. Education. We will explore what specific knowledge will be needed to succeed in your situation, by first thoroughly understanding your situation, then providing the necessary resources to facilitate your decisions, and explaining the options and risks associated with each choice.
  6. Partnership. We attempt to help you achieve the best life possible but will work in concert with you, not just for you, to make this possible, by taking the time to clearly understand your background, philosophy, needs and objectives, work collaboratively with you and on your behalf (with your permission), and offer transparency around our own costs and compensation.

Last week I wrote about asking for professional help. Now I’m suggesting that the clock is ticking.

How would you rate your current Return on Life?

Are you living proactively or re-actively?

Is your bucket list long, short or non-existent?  What direction is it moving?

Finding a “good” planner to partner with could be one of the smartest “return on life” moves you could ever make.

Before going into that meeting take some time to write down how you want your life to turn out.

Ideally, what would the next 10 years look like?

Where will you live in retirement?  I dare you to actually try and envision it in your mind’s eye.

I guess what I’m saying is that it’s not all about the money.

Create a vision, prioritize, be proactive and your “Return on Life” is going to shoot up!

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