Financial planning is setting and reaching one’s goals in life. These can be financial or nonfinancial, but they often go hand in hand. As certified financial planners, we help our clients and ourselves visualize and achieve these dreams. After a recent bucket list trip with my uncle, I wanted to share some thoughts on “bucket list planning.” After all, creating your own bucket list can be an invaluable tool in the financial planning process.
A bucket list helps you focus on what’s important to you. Most of the time we are just too involved in daily activities to take a step back and review past successes or plan future goals.
The objective of creating goals is not to start the clock in a race against time or to instill a fear of death but to maximize our moments, inspire us and provide a focus for our energies towards what matters most to us.
You may resist making a bucket list simply because you don’t know where to start. However, compartmentalizing your list may prove easier. You may have lists for travel, personal, professional, family or finances. Write down anything, no matter how unrealistic. For example, under “Travel” you may write down that you want to hike the Appalachian Trail. While this may turn out to be unrealistic and impractical, it could be the step you needed to get outdoors more and exercise.
Here are some questions to ask yourself to get the ball rolling:
• If you were to die tomorrow, what would you wish you could have accomplished?
What have you always wanted to do but have not done yet?
• What would you do if you had unlimited time, money and resources?
• What are your biggest goals and dreams?
What do you want to see in person?
• What achievements do you want to have?
• What activities or skills do you want to learn or try out?
Everyone’s list is unique and should not be viewed as some static document that can’t change.
This should be a living document for adding new ideas and crossing off achievements. Don’t just delete them but simply cross them off or mark them as “done” which gives you a sense of accomplishment.
It is also vital to actually write this list down. Putting goals in writing and even sharing them with others are proven techniques for turning them into reality. Additionally, while it may be a good idea to do a list as a couple, keep in mind that your goals for this exercise don’t have to match: Everyone is an individual first and a spouse or partner second. This also will allow you to see what is important to your partner and help them in reaching their goals.
Once you have done this, there are several things you can do to ensure it is kept alive. Keep your list in a place where you can see it to keep it fresh in your mind and share this list with others. In sharing, you may actually inspire them to create their own list but in sharing you will also create an accountability system where others monitor your progress.
To paraphrase others, the best way to predict your future is to invent it and a bucket list can help you do just that!
Life is a journey; plan for it.
Neil A. Brown is a CPA and CFP with Burkett Financial Services in West Columbia. Reach him at www.uscneil.com or (803) 200-2272.