“Debra, are you doing ok?”
I was enjoying the stunning scenery of white snow-covered Aspen trees against the crisp blue sky when my skiing companion surprisingly caught up to me. I shot him a thumbs up. “Doing great, thanks for checking.” My skiing companion was Ryan, the ski patrol member who was called to my side on the mountain a few minutes earlier after I wiped out, tore some ligaments in my knee, and was then tucked neatly into a toboggan to make the journey to the hospital for x-rays.
The rest of the details of this story - basically consisting of crutches, a knee brace, and a short surgery - aren’t that interesting, but hopefully the lesson I learned from it will be. As I noted in my December blog, many of us do things on a daily basis that we don’t even realize we do, but will have a long-term effect on us as humans. It might be how we spend or save our money, whether we make time for exercise, how much time we spend on our electronic devices, whether we stick to a healthy diet, or how much meaningful time we spend with family and friends. We make choices all day, many with no intention behind them. But our lack of intention does not mean that these actions lack effect on us as humans.
A few months ago, I had decided to make 2020 a year of intention, both personally and professionally. I also knew that before intention came vision, and my 2020 commitment would require a 20/20 focus. While 20/20 vision is often referred to as perfect vision, the “one hand over the eye” exam that we have all taken since we were kids is a measure of visual acuity, not perfect eyesight. That is to say, it is used to assess our sharpness of vision, or our clarity of vision.
Now that your inbox and newsfeed are no longer inundated with New Year’s resolutions ideas, and as we launch into a new decade, I am suggesting a simpler idea for 2020: use your 20/20 clarity to choose just one financial goal that will improve your life, and focus all of your intention behind it. Pick one. Any one. Just make it yours, and make a difference with it.
One of the reasons that so many New Year resolutions are abandoned by February is that they are too big, too impractical, or too completely unplanned. How attainable is a goal to lose 20 pounds without dedicated time in your daily calendar to exercise and prepare healthy food options? We can all make a list of things we’d like to improve about our money, whether it is making more, saving more, paying less in taxes, or giving away more to others. But without focus, will we feel like we accomplished any of these when we ring in the next new year?
The 20/20 goal of my practice and my team is to impact not only our clients but our community in a meaningful way, and to help as many people as we can to improve how money helps them have the lives they want. Money is, after all, a key part of most goals that we accomplish in life - from putting kids and grandkids through college, to traveling the world, or donating to charity. I keep seeing articles about how interesting the 20s will be, some alluding to the “Roaring 20s” (which ended in the Great Depression - no thanks), some speculating how much our daily lives will change (drones will apparently deliver lunch to my desk - also, no thanks). What will decidedly not change is that humans will have goals, and will need to apply their money wisely towards those goals.
This concept to pick just one is exactly what we do with our financial planning clients. After we design their unique plan, we pick the one issue that we all agree is the one that needs the most intention, both from us and from our clients. Together we focus on that goal until either it is achieved - such as placing a life insurance policy, or until it is properly planned out - such as growing a business for a future sale.
Intention is the clear lesson I am learning from my ski accident. What I once did every day without thought – walking – now requires focus and effort. Every step on crutches, every movement in physical therapy, every journey up and down the stairs is intentionally made to prevent further injury and promote healing. Sometimes, life makes your one singular goal very obvious. Sometimes, life isn’t as clear in revealing where your focus should go. I am so interested to find out how much you can improve in your financial life if you use your 20/20 vision to identify just one goal, and then intentionally put a plan in place to achieve it.
Here are some next steps for you to consider:
- Pick your 20/20 goal. You can review my 19 for 19 blog for ideas, or just think about the one part of your financial life that pops in your mind when you are up in the middle of the night. If you want some help with it, email it to us, and I will consider it for one of the goals we outline in our next 20/20 blog (leaving out your name of course).
- Tune in to my next 20/20 blog, which will lead you through how you can break down your 20/20 goal and put a plan behind it.
- Send this blog to any of your friends or family that are stressed about their money. You know who they are. They can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the word subscribe, and we will add them to our list.
Debra Brennan Tagg is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professional and the creator of the DBT360 Financial Plan, a proprietary program that helps her clients prioritize their goals, leverage their resources, and address their risks. She is the president of Brennan Financial Services and teaches the public and the financial services industry about the importance of values-based financial planning and investor education.