"People don't know what they want until they see it" - Steve Jobs
Every night for the past few days I’ve been reading a fantastic children’s book to my son Charlie. The book is called You Choose and it gives children the tools to tap into their imagination, pull things out and fulfil their fantasies.
Each chapter presents the child with a range of different scenarios where they’re able to take control of an adventure and steer it towards a hypothetical scenario of their choosing. Depending on their decisions, they may end up being the captain of a spaceship, live in a Roman villa and, if they’re feeling very courageous, adopt a pet dragon.
It feels a bit strange taking inspiration from a children’s book, but I’ve woven it into this week’s post for a reason. Most of us have a vague idea of where we want our future selves to be and this usually involves either luxury, freedom or both.
Yet for the purposes of financial planning, quite often these fantasies lack substance
The truth is, there’s a canvas that needs to be painted when we ask you “What are your goals and dreams for the future; what does your ideal retirement look like?” but to create a truly valuable bespoke financial plan that canvas needs more than a beach, sunny blue skies and a beautiful villa by the sea. Don’t get me wrong - retiring somewhere in the Mediterranean with good food and even better wine is a great ambition to have… but to make it a reality we need to get more specific.
To get the full picture, you need to have an idea of what your day-to-day living would look like; to flesh out the details and fill in the blank space with what you truly want. Will you finally write that book you’ve been meaning to? Will you use the time to reduce your golf handicap? Will you spend time volunteering or travelling? Or will you start a business?
When we retire, a new world of endless opportunities presents itself to us in a way that can be almost perplexing. If we’ve prepared adequately, we’ll finally have enough time to do almost anything we’ve ever wanted. But time is finite, and we have to pursue the interests that will make us most content.
Trying to work out what our 70-year-old self would want is a difficult task
If this feels overwhelming, don’t worry, this is natural. We’re wired to spend more time thinking about what’s happening now. Project deadlines, repairs to the house, the next big birthday celebration - these are all problems that grab our immediate attention, forcing us to focus less on the future.
But if we rivet our attention on looking ahead, we could immerse ourselves in a fantasy of our ideal retirement lifestyle and discover exactly what it is that we want. This is important because the more specific your goals are, the more likely you’re going to achieve them. And when you finally enter your golden years, the transition is going to be less sudden and more gentle.
My son Charlie already has his future down to a T and it involves having ice cream for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I hope he replaces his sugar cravings with less diabetic goals, but it’s a step in the right direction for a four-year-old.
Thanks to his new favourite book Charlie was given some material to work on and get creative when planning his future. I’m going to do the same with you, but without the book.
Write yourself a postcard from your future self and share it with us
You’re 70 years old and you’re where you’ve always wanted to be. You have the villa. You have the financial security. And you have the freedom that you’ve always craved. But how do you actually live your life?
Imagine being in this scenario and think of how your perfect day would look: the daily routines, the habits, the hobbies, the projects, the social life and just about everything that would make you completely content with your retirement. Think of what a typical day would be like for you, then build this up to a week and then to a month.
Once you have this, then write a postcard from the 70-year-old you to the you living in the present. Try to include as much detail as possible. This will be just as challenging as productive, requiring you to tinker with your deepest desires until you can visualise exactly what you want.
When this happens, the obscurity will be finessed into something more precise, providing you with a clearer destination to work towards. You’ll be more motivated, more focused and far more likely to bring these visualisations to life. But most of all, this will enable us to create the financial plan that will help you achieve this.
This is why we created WealthMap
Instead of us asking you that overwhelming question about your goals, dreams and perfect retirement, and putting you on the spot with an answer, WealthMap helps you to make more informed decisions.
It does that by showing you what your future would look like first and foremost, without doing anything. The equivalent of chapter 1 of You Choose when life is as is.
With this backdrop clients can more easily picture what it is they want, because they have something to compare it with, a foundation point - it’s not that, it’s this. From here, they can start to make real choices.
Clients get to see their finances under the microscope, to analyse them from all angles, which helps to provide some idea about what’s possible. We can illustrate exactly what lifestyle you could have in retirement, showing you various different scenarios and matching the numbers so you can see the impact on your finances.
The approach enables you to see your future first and then allows us to create the financial plan as the foundation.
So when you’ve got to a point where you can visualise your goals with your postcard, share it with us, and we can use the WealthMap to discover whether you’re on track to attaining them.
If you’re not, then we can pivot the strategy to one that is. By doing so you’ll have something to build upon leading up to your retirement, drawing you closer to what you truly want.