The power of character

Robert A. Valente, RAV Financial Services LLC

In last month’s article I discussed getting rejuvenated as you revisit your journey of personal wealth management and life planning. So let’s assume that you have your data updated and you have a rough draft of your goals, passions and purpose in life. As you review with your significant other and family members what you compiled, ask yourself a question: How important is it to achieve these goals? And how do you make this goal setting/goal achieving experience enjoyable?

Will this be another task you have to add to your “to-do” list? Is it going to interfere with anything else that is going on in your life, and do you have time right now to do this? Do you have a profound passion to get this journey started? Let’s look and listen for the language that you use to describe your interest in personal and/or business financial planning. Is it another process? Is it another task to do? Or is it a journey? Many years ago I heard Paul J. Meyer, motivational speaker and author, define success. “Success is the progressive realization toward a worthwhile pre-determined goal.” Mr. Meyer was extremely direct in his precise use of key words to define such an esoteric term as success.

Personal and business financial planning is a journey as well as a destination. The journey may never end because as you progress through the many phases of the strategic process, new destinations may be identified and clarified. So, in this beginning stage of your decision to do a financial plan (integrating it with your business plan), what thoughts and words will you use to describe your involvement with your wealth manager and life planner? How important is the outcome to you, and will you take joint responsibility with your life planner to create the highest probability for success?

If you compare financial planning to a diet for example, you realize that weight-loss is a lifestyle change, not a quick fix. Financial planning is identical. To get to a new life plan, you cannot keep doing the same things that have not worked in the past, and just buying products doesn’t fix it long term. You cannot keep doing the same thing over and over again and expect different results.

Wealth management and life planning at RAV is much more than just dollars and cents. Typically, people expect dollars and cents to dominate conversations they have with a wealth adviser, but when it comes to life planning topics of discussion extend to matters far more personal than money, addressing your deepest life dreams and goals — and how to make them a reality through sound financial planning. When developing a life plan with your RAV adviser, there are a few key factors that must come into alignment — mutual trust, understanding, and a wealth adviser who has the courage and honesty to tell you whether your current reality can support your future dreams. If it can’t, our wealth manager has the risk management know-how to assess what, if any, adjustments can be made to your current lifestyle and wealth strategy to help you achieve the life plan you’ve outlined. But you as a client also bear a large responsibility in the life planning process — particularly if you long for a future that looks very different from your current reality. Like all strategies, the more time you have to take risks and plan, the better your odds are of achieving long-term success.

Start out with a clean slate in your mind as to the experience you are undertaking. Refrain from beating yourself up that you have waited so long to get started. Embrace the co-responsibility that you and your wealth manager will commit to, being mindful that it is your financial plan. You are in charge of its destiny. Know that there are distractions and other ingrained attitudes and beliefs that may attempt to undermine your tenacity in staying on the journey. Keep two words always in mind — character and persistence.

I remember in the 1970s listening to a personal development record. Not a CD or cassette tape, but a 78 rpm vinyl record. The motivational instructor, whose name I have forgotten, defined the word character. “Character is the ability to carry out a decision long after the enthusiasm in which it was made has left you.”

Ray Kroc, the late founder of McDonalds, put it best when he said (and I paraphrase): “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence …… persistence, determination and love are omnipotent.” All successful people persist at accomplishing their objectives. The greater the passion for the outcome, the easier it is to persist. So keep in mind a visual of what that end result will be. In dieting, you may hang up a picture of yourself on the refrigerator of the new you. Compare this experience to putting together a jigsaw puzzle. Rather than focus on how many pieces, colors, corners or edges are in the box, concentrate on the picture on the box top. That picture is the joyful outcome as the pieces come together. Your financial and business plan will also be the outcome of your journey with your wealth manager and life planner as you both use art and science to assemble all of its components.

Robert A. Valente, CFP®, AEP®, is CEO and Managing Member of RAV Financial Services LLC. He can be reached at [email protected]

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