From time to time I get people requesting me to help them in Financial planning or to review their existing portfolios. While this is an important exercise by itself, I have always felt that it is a bit analogous to putting the cart before the horse. Finances support your life decisions and activities by allowing you to do the things you want to do in life. They do not, cannot and should not determine how you lead your life. A lot has changed for the world and India in the last 3 months and life, as we know it, will be very different from now on. In the changed context, my suggestion is that you take stock of your life first and then worry about the finances.
So how do you take stock of your life? Well, there can be several ways to do it and I have one which is my favorite. You need to look at a few important dimensions in order to decide how things are going. In each of these dimensions there are some key questions you need to be asking yourself. These questions will differ from one individual to another but I have given some examples that may help you form your questions. So here is how I would take stock of my life in any new year :-
- My work and profession
- Is my current work aligned to my overall goals in life?
- Am I happy with work content, work relationships and benefits?
- Is my work helping me to create value and is intellectually satisfying?
- Does it help in letting me lead my life well in terms of work-life balance?
- Do I really grow every year as a professional and as a person with it?
- Is there a case for considering a change in my current work or profession?
- My family and friends
- Am I happy with the situation my family is in today?
- Are all members clear of their goals in life and working towards it?
- Am I able to influence and add value to their goal achievement?
- Do I have the financial bandwidth to cater for their goals?
- Are relationships within my family functional or dysfunctional?
- Are we able to spend family time in vacations and other activities?
- Are we able to achieve the difficult balance between space and togetherness?
- Are all the members clear about important information in family matters?
- Each year, is there a sense of progress and optimism?
- If I repeated these above questions for my close friends how will the answers be?
- My contribution to society
- Do I have intrinsic value that can be contributed in a positive way to society?
- Am I doing enough to utilize my value proposition above?
- Do I contribute to some charities to the extent that I can afford?
- Am I involved in any community activities in a positive way?
- Do I donate blood every year and have I predged my organs after my death?
- Am I a role model to my children for them to become responsible citizens?
- Do I consciously make an effort to vote in every election?
- Do I use every public space or utility consciously and leave it in better state?
- Me as a person
- Am I taking care of my health today to avoid problems of the future?
- Do I exercise regularly and is there a need to make changes in that?
- Do I strike a balance between work productivity and leisure time?
- Am I able to spend time on the things I really enjoy doing?
- Do I have a clear vision of the short term and medium term future?
- Do I have long term goals and am I working towards them?
When you are doing this, do not attempt to rush through. Sit with a cup of coffee or whichever drink you prefer, think deeply through the questions and be brutally honest. Remember the questions have binary answers and if it is not a convincing YES then it has to be a NO. Give yourself 1 mark for every YES and 0 for every NO. In the end see how much have you scored out of 30?
What is a good score in this? Well an overall score of 25 or so will indicate that you are doing great in life and things can hardly be better, 20 will mean that there are several areas you need to improve and less than that will mean you have real issues and need to look at serious changes in 2020 and beyond. While you may want to deal with it yourself and many do have the ability, there is no reason to feel awkward about getting support from your family, friends, boss at work etc to make some important changes.
How can I help in this? Well this is an area where I can add value as an individual and have already done it for some people. I do a program called HELP ( Holistic Engagement for Life Planning ) that looks into life situation, changes envisaged and a way to go for them. It does have a financial planning component to ensure that such life choices can be sustainable. In case you are interested, reach out to me. I hope you understand this is a serious and time consuming exercise and is obviously a paid one 🙂
Wishing all my readers a stable 2020, where you must look to survive and sustain. Growth and thriving can honestly wait for another day!!