Life Planning Training: Reinforcing My Purpose – Part 2

life planning part 2
Life planning focuses on the human side of financial planning. Here is part two of my recent experience at EVOKE training.

WOW, I have asked clients the three Kinder life planning questions since 2020. But Apprise’s life planning process didn’t go much beyond that. As I mentioned in this space several times recently (for example, see here), one of my 2023 goals involves earning the Registered Life Planner® designation. That will allow me to fully integrate the Kinder life-planning process into Apprise’s financial planning process. As a next step toward achieving this goal, from February 15-21, I attended EVOKE Life Planning Training. (E-Exploration; V-Vision; O-Obstacles; K-Knowledge; E-Execution) What a fantastic experience!

Today I’m sharing Part 2 of my story. You can find Part 3, which includes my life plan here. If you missed Part 1, in which I discussed the events leading up to the start of EVOKE, you can click here. You can also click here to read the full story in one place.

Training Starts

Life planning training started Wednesday evening. Our exercise for the night was to draw our life maps. I admit it wasn’t my favorite exercise as my artistic ability falls somewhere between non-existent and none. But it was still worthwhile. Of course, much of my life map centered on what I discussed in this blog. It was also great to start to learn more about the other participants and hear their stories.

The next morning several of us arrived early in hopes of seeing the sunrise. Unfortunately, the weather in Hana didn’t cooperate. (Rain and clouds were the standard the whole time we were there.) While it was cloudy that morning, the view was still spectacular. Much to my surprise, while we were there, my friend Megan asked if I’d done my daily back exercises that morning. (I complete this 12-minute YouTube video at least five times a week. It’s helped tremendously.) I said I hadn’t. The next thing you know, the video was on her phone. Two others joined us. Below is our view while doing the exercises. To me, it made for a special moment. Thanks, Megan.

Experiential Training

EVOKE training is experiential. No role-playing. If you want to get the most out of it, you must be your true self. Life planning can be an emotional experience and can lead to tears (it did for me at one point and for my life planning partner at another). But it also allows you to explore your innermost thoughts and feelings and delve into what matters most to you.

As it did every day, the morning started with a 20-minute meditation as well as a related discussion led by George Kinder. I have often heard of the benefits of meditation but haven’t had much success adopting a regular practice in the past. But this experience was different, and for the first time I experienced some of the benefits. I’m now working to incorporate meditation into my daily routine.

During the first morning of training, we picked our life planning partner. I was fortunate enough to pair up with Sherise. Her husband completed the same training a few years ago. She is not an experienced financial planner, but that didn’t matter in the least. She was awesome to work with and did a great job. I expect her to join the same mentorship program that I have already registered for. That will make it easier for us to continue to work together and help each other realize our respective life plans.

The Exploration Meeting

The EVOKE process starts with the exploration meeting. During this meeting, an advisor largely gives their client (or prospective client) the opportunity to speak about what matters to them. The advisor’s role is to listen and provide space. You don’t make judgments. You make it the client’s meeting and not yours. The less you talk the better. You shouldn’t provide advice along the way. Doing so ends the conversation.

The Vision Meeting

If you decide you want to work with a life planner, you receive a series of inspirational exercises to complete after the exploration meeting. These include the three Kinder life planning questions as well as the Heart’s Core Grid (this podcast transcript includes a description). These exercises are discussed during the vision meeting. Later in the process, clients are also asked to complete schedules depicting their Ideal Day, Week, and Year. I prefer to give the three questions to the client before the vision meeting so they can answer them on their own. That allows for a fuller discussion about them at the next meeting. Each attendee had to complete these exercises before class.

As an advisor, I ask clients to share their responses to the three questions. While I’m modified a couple of very personal responses related to some issues one of my children must navigate, I would like to share the questions and my answers – with some minor edits – below. My answers are in bullet format. You can also answer in a narrative format. That’s how Sherise formatted her answers.

Creating Your Life Plan: Vision – Question One

Imagine 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? What would you do?

Let yourself go. Don’t hold back on your dreams. Will you change your life and how will you do it?

  • Time outside every day – weather permitting – walking, biking, hiking, disc golfing (with kids only).
  • Travel at least once a quarter or less frequently but with longer stays. I want to do and not just see things when I travel.
  • Time with family and friends.
  • Continue working as long as I enjoy it, and it doesn’t interfere with gaining and sharing new experiences.
  • Create a foundation or another charitable vehicle that provides private scholarships/financial support for women who go back to school after starting a family. This would be in honor of my mother.
  • Develop a program for furthering financial education, especially for teens and young adults.
  • After the kids are done with school, have a home base someplace warm – and ideally near an ocean or mountains – that’s relatively near to where our kids settle.
  • Read – and learn – even more.
  • Elevate my diet.
  • See a game in every baseball stadium.
  • See Duke play in Cameron Indoor Stadium at least once a year.
  • Write a book.
  • Help our children as much as possible so they can have happy, successful lives and overcome any difficulties they may face.
  • Position our children for success.
  • Continue to make sure that dogs are always living in my home.
  • Further education – how about a graduate degree from Duke?!!
  • Add the CFP, PFS, and RLP designations.
  • More one-on-one trips with my kids.

Creating Your Life Plan: Vision – Question Two

This time you visit your doctor who tells you that you have only 5 – 10 years left 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 years you have remaining?

Will you change your life and how will you do it?

  • Continue working but start combining work and travel sooner.
  • Take more walks and go on more hikes and bike rides than I do now.
  • Maximize time with family and friends and make sure they know how much I care for them.
  • Depending on where Sarah goes to school, sell our house and move sooner.
  • Independent time with each of my kids.
  • Make sure my wife and kids are taken care of after I’m gone.
  • Have something in place to recognize my mom.
  • Stop working sooner if the right steps are in place and Sarah is done with school.
  • Work fewer hours.
  • At least one Duke game in Cameron with my family.
  • Help our children as much as possible so they can have happy, successful lives and overcome any difficulties they may face.
  • Position our children for success.

Creating Your Life Plan: Vision – Question Three

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?

  • Not getting to see any of my kids get married.
  • Not being a grandfather.
  • Not growing old with my wife.
  • Not experiencing other lands and cultures through sustained travel.
  • Not helping as many clients as I’d hoped to achieve their goals and dreams.
  • Not getting to live someplace warm, new, and different.
  • Not helping (or not seeing if he/she can do it on his/her own) our children as much as possible so they can have happy, successful lives and overcome any difficulties they may face.
  • Not creating a scholarship/ongoing financial support to help women who went back to school later in life.
  • Not doing enough to further financial education, especially for teens and young adults.

When the weather allowed it, some of us ate meals under this spectacular banyan tree on George’s property. Our group completed some of our training exercises under it as well.

What Do You Do With This Information?

During the vision meeting, you discuss your responses, focusing on the third question. While the others matter too, the third question provides the greatest insights into what matters most to you.

The goal of this exercise is for your advisor to help you create a vision statement. This process is also referred to as “lighting the torch.” Advisors do this to inspire their clients to live their desired lives and to do or accomplish things that truly matter to them. I will say that, in my case, many of the items in my answer to the third question I can’t do anything about. If I was gone tomorrow, I would not be able to achieve those items that represent life milestones. I can take solace in knowing that I always try the best I can to be a good husband, father, parent, and friend as well as a good advisor for my clients.

Our journey on the road to Hana took us to the first night of training – See here for Part 1. Next week, in Part 3, I will share my life plan. I hope it inspires you to create your life plan, too.

End of Part 2

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