Expert advice

Oct 17, 2013,16.57 IST

Ever thought of living the life that your heart desires?

Suresh Sadagopan
Ladder7 Financial Advisories

Have you ever thought deeply about what you want to do in life?  If you have, you are in the minority. If you have thought about it and are also working towards it, you are probably as rare as a 20 carat blue diamond!

We all have our deep felt desires… some of us wanted to be a chef, some wanted to act, some wanted to help poor people to get out of their pitiful existence.

But most dismiss these as just wishful thinking as they are not able to see how they can scale the seemingly high barrier of responsibilities & expectations, which comes between them and their cherished goal.

You are investing… but have you given it some thought?

Investors keep investing their money mostly in what is giving good returns, at that moment. They keep shifting the money from one asset class to another, based on this. This means one may, for instance, shift from FDs and Equity to Real Estate.

But real estate as an asset class has different dynamics as compared to FDs/ Equity. For one, Real estate involves huge chunks of money and has a concentration risk.

Also, liquidity is low, taxation aspects are to be considered, there are costs involved in these deals like brokerage, stamp duty, registration, property upkeep ( society charges, painting , repairs etc. ), investment in it ( interior work if it needs to be rented out ) which need to be factored in too  ( but are seldom taken into account ). Suffice to say that this asset class is significantly different from FDs/ Equities from where the investments came.

Such random shifts will normally end in grief. Also, there are going to be mismatches in tenure, liquidity, returns, investment concentration, risk mismatches etc., which are anyway going to pose problems even if the returns were as anticipated.

Where are your goals?

The first important thing is to understand where you want to go. Those are your goals. However, most of us go about this mechanically – children’s education, holidays, retirement etc. So, are these the only goals which everyone has?

I have heard only 6-7 goals and variations of that. How come the entire humanity is thinking on the same mundane lines?

How come none of us are aspiring to achieve what we want to do or really be? It is almost as if talking about one’s personal wishes and individual aspirations is taboo.

Actually there are billions of goals and every individual has their secreted deep inside. But they have decided that it is just fanciful thinking and do not even wish to acknowledge that it might be something worth pursuing.

Hence, we end up planning for the same set of superficial goals. It is just planning to live life as it exists, into eternity. Oh, how boring!

Is it possible to achieve heartfelt desires & wishes?

Who knows… it might actually be possible!  But first we need to delve deep into the life we are living and see if it is really meaningful. At first it appears that the life you are living is the only life there is. But on careful pondering, there are a dozen things that tumble out, at first as regrets…

You always wanted to play cricket and you were a very good bowler at college. Now, it is years since you have played. Whenever you see a cricket field with teams playing there, you get wistful and there is a tinge of sadness.

Maybe you had always been saddened by the poor children who spend their time on the streets instead of in classrooms. Many of us donate to charities which support such children. It is possible that you always wanted to start an institution that can help them. But you just got sucked into the vortex of daily existence that this got relegated to the background.

Like this, someone wanted to do a doctorate, someone wanted to pursue music, someone wanted to spend more time with their aging parents etc.  Saw that? There are a million wistful regrets that reside in our hearts.

If we are willing to bring them to the surface, we may be able to do something about it, if we are willing to reorder our life to accommodate what truly one desires to do with one’s life. 

For instance, the cricket aficionado can look at the possibility of combining his abiding interest in cricket and making a living out of it, by joining an academy as a coach. It may ofcourse not be as easy as I make it appear here.

But that is a possibility. But, there is a chance that the income will come down and the family should be willing to support such a decision. If it does, this person would live the life he always wanted and would be a much happier person than ever before.

You get the drift?

Hence it is necessary to first uncover what the person truly desires and find out if s/he & the family are willing to make the adjustments necessary to make it possible.

Life Planning is the answer

We have seen that most people invest in an adhoc manner. Others who go to an advisor/ financial planner give those standard goals that I have heard and planned for all this while. A better way would be to engage in a conversation which brings out the hidden wishes & sometimes fears and see if they can be addressed as part of the plan.

Wrong messages that one has learnt early in life like – Money is the source of all misery – may play havoc in later life. A person living with such a message will live a miserable life even though s/he may have all the trappings of wealth.

The life planner has a role to play here. A life planner is a financial planner who is willing to engage in deep conversations with their clients and bring out significant blocks surrounding money, which are impacting their life as well as uncover their deep desires.

Once these are out on the surface, the life planner would see how these blocks can be overcome and how the goals can be met. The life planner would need to talk about the changes that they may need to make to give life to those desires.

The life planner would play the role of a guide & facilitator. Once there is a buy in, a plan needs to be created to accommodate the new goals and the altered life itself.

After that ofcourse, the number crunching that we do to find out whether they would be able to meet their goals and live comfortably, will take place. At the end of this process there should be people who would be thanking their financial planners for giving back their life!

George Kinder, a proponent and votary of life planning says that Life Planning is Financial Planning done right. That about seems right and sums up nicely all that I have said, doesn’t it? With this process, we will be able to mine 20 carat blue diamonds, all the time!

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