Life Planning subsumes financial planning and is sometimes referred to as Financial Life Planning. Ideally, financial planning should not be done without clearly understanding what one wants to do in life (which is the aim of the Life Planning process, done right at the beginning ). That’s precisely why George Kinder (the proponent of Life Planning) says – Life Planning is Financial Planning done right.
Understanding what is truly important for you to live a life that’s meaningful to you & a life that you look forward to, is the objective of Life Planning. Once we uncover what is that you people truly desire (and it is not always something that will cost money), we could see how to make that a part of our overall financial plan so that the truly important things are a part of your life now.
The Life Planning Process
To start with, the client needs to be able to articulate what a meaningful life will look like for them. They will need help here.
To facilitate their thinking and to help them clarify what is important to them, there are resources to assist in getting their thoughts together, focus on what they want in their lives & get energised about the wonderful possibilities. This needs to be done by the couple, individually.
There are thought-provoking questions which will direct one’s thinking in certain directions & help in clarifying as to what is important in one’s life. There are also worksheets which help in crystallising one’s thoughts and be able to put together one’s ideal life.
The process followed
Once the client has completed the questionnaires & worksheets, the Life Planner will first go through all the resources to get to understand the client’s and their aspirations.
The first meeting would be an exploration session to understand what the client truly wants in their lives, what they are missing today, their pain points and what kind of lives they want for themselves.
Having understood the client’s innermost heartfelt desires, the Life Planner would paint the ideal life for the client. This is called the Visioning process. All the elements which the client feels are vital to have in their ideal life will form a part of the visioning process. The client looks at it and gives feedback & the vision for their future may be refined further.
In the next meeting, the possible obstacles that may come in the way of the client achieving their idea life are brought up and discussed. The Life Planner gives the client the courage & energy needed to see them through the obstacles they see in their path. The quality that the client seeks in their lives is emphasised so that the client gets the vigour to pursue their ideal life.
At various points when Life Planning is going on the financial plan also gets drawn up, side by side. This is very much needed to have a financial architecture in place to support the new vision for life that the client is seeking to create.
Lastly, for the Financial Life Plan to become a reality, one needs to ensure that the recommendations given are executed in a timely manner. This implementation may look like a minor thing; but without this, it is not possible to get any results from the Life Planning process and hence very important.
What if my spouse is not interested in participating?
It is ideal that the couple participates in this process. After all, what we are discussing is about the kind of life that they would want for themselves. If the spouse does not want to participate, s/he can atleast sit through the sessions to understand what is getting discussed. Many times, they warm up during these sessions and start participating.
If the apprehension stems from the fact that this maybe somehow difficult to understand & follow, it is completely unfounded. It is after all about one’s life and there is no chance that one may not understand something here.
What can one expect out of Life Planning process?
What would come out of the process can be quite different for different people. In some cases, it may just be some small tweaks in their life. In others, it could entail major changes in their life due to considerable changes in the way they want to live their life.
Either way, they would get a sense of what they may be missing in their life currently and what is it that they need to bring into their lives to make it wholesome & interesting for them. A Life Planning exercise would help in either situation to arrive at the ideal life that one may want to live. A few examples of this can be found in the next topic.