Why do we hate planning for our future?

Oct 16, 2014

Admit it…planning ranks right up there with going to the dentist. We see planning as stressful, time consuming and we are pessimistic because we aren’t sure how to do it. “Why bother, when my plan will be wrong anyways?” is a common concern.

Most people readily admit that they have spent more time planning their last two week vacation than they have invested in planning for the next thirty years of their life. Have you ever considered that maybe planning can actually be as fun and easy as planning your vacation?

People seem to be under the misconception that any plans they put down on paper are written in stone and that if their life changes then they are stuck with the consequences of their previous decisions. However, if your life changes, it’s only logical that your plan should too. After all, it’s not like your vacation planning is all smooth sailing. The flight you want may be booked, the hotel you want may be under renovations or your mother-in-law may not be able to watch the kids. You need to make adjustments and have contingency plans for the bumps in the road. This is called reality-based planning.

As Carl Richards, author of The Behavior Gap, writes, “…reality-based planning acknowledges that such assumptions are mere guesses. We make the best guesses we can. Then we can move on to the more productive business of investigating our current motives and circumstances, so that we can act from a place of understanding – not hope, not fear; but clarity.”

What people fail to understand, because they are too busy assuming they can’t do it, are the true benefits that planning provides:

  • It brings balance to our life by creating anticipation for future and you begin to consider compromises that will guarantee these goals are achieved.
  • It allows you to consider all the possibilities and their consequences, thereby providing you with the ability to determine what you truly want out of life.
  • It helps you to have open discussions with your spouse, so that you are on the same page and able to make important decisions together.
  • It also provides you with the benefit of hindsight; allowing you to understand the long-term implications of your decisions before you actually commit to them.

There is no such thing as the perfect plan because life is constantly in flux. You simply need to learn to adapt to the changes. Once you realize that planning is essential and open to refinement, it’s time to get the ball rolling and get engaged.

It also helps to have the proper tools that allow for exploration and discovery of the possibilities before you sit down and start to make commitments. You need to find ways to get answers to those ‘I wonder if I could?’ questions in order to reduce the confusion and complexity to bring clarity to your future.

Unfortunately, most people start the planning process by looking at the recurring costs associated with meeting their basic lifestyle needs. How dull. Start by getting excited about your future – what makes you happy?

With your beliefs on happiness as a basis, take time to identify what you want to do in your future – the must do’s, would like to do’s and wildest dreams – and you will find it easier to focus on the things that truly matter in your life.

  • Who do you enjoy spending time with? Family, friends, children or grandchildren etc…
  • What do you enjoy doing? Traveling, reading, sports, exercising etc…
  • What gives your life meaning? Volunteering, learning etc…

As you draft your plan, you need to stop focusing on whether you have the financial resources to achieve it. In The Behavior Gap Richards’ states, “We have to decide what will make us happy and then make financial decisions that support these goals. Financial decisions are almost always life decisions. Before you decide on your financial goals, you need to choose your life goals.”

Once you begin to organize your thoughts and goals, you start to make solid decisions which lead you to your ideal plan. You need to let go of your preconceived notions regarding planning and make the best guesses possible for your life. In dealing with intricate problems, such as retirement planning, people are unable to balance all of the options until they see them on display. It’s like a light goes on and everything begins to click into place.

There is always the worry that perhaps we don’t have enough financial resources to reach our goals.  So what? All the more reason to plan. It is well known that when it comes to money there is a limit to how much happiness money brings. The goal is to explore and discover what really makes us happy, what really gives meaning to your life. Proper planning allows you to focus your available resources, time, energy and money on those things that will give you the greatest ‘return on life.’

At Designing My OK, we have developed easy to use, engaging and fun tools that allow you to explore the possibilities of the future. To stretch the limits, then step back and reorganize.  Those who complete the process are rewarded with clarity, balance, confidence and anticipation for their future.

So, before you start to plan ask yourself – what makes you happy? Don’t be surprised, when you get to the root of happiness and meaning, you find it has more to do with doing memorable things with people you love.  Already planning for the future is starting sound more fun.

Cut to the Chase to Succeed in Retirement

Sep 30, 2014

Have you ever noticed that by choosing a small number of the right activities you can usually achieve the outcome you are looking for in less time, with less energy and with greater predictability?

Too often we waste time and energy on a bunch of “should do” or “could do” actions, while overlooking the few simple high leverage “must do” actions that cut to the chase in getting the job done.

The power of these activities is that they tend to identify or stop self-defeating behaviours before they escalate and they start a domino effect that leads to the results we are looking for.

It turns out that the three most vital activities when it comes to weight loss are:

1. Eat breakfast every day
2. Weigh yourself daily
3. Work out at home

When researchers compared the best to the rest, they discovered that these three simple actions had the greatest impact upon success.

At Designing My OK, we have been focusing upon a few key activities that are common among those people who have the best track records in getting the most out of the second half of their life.

Our research has revealed that the three most productive activities are:

1. Getting more excited about your future
2. Getting more specific about your future
3. Developing an action plan that provides you with confidence that these things will be done

Our Designing My OK Program™ was developed specifically around helping people to concentrate their time and energy around these three key activities.

We help people explore a variety of exciting options for their future so they can become more specific about what they want to happen, when they would like it to happen and how big they would like these things to be.

Our powerful modelling tools allow us to take people on a journey to vicariously live the financial implications their desired lifestyle. This allows them to look back from a future vantage point to determine if that is in fact the outcome they were expecting / hoping for. It is from here that we are able to help people define with great clarity their definition of a future they are looking forward to with excitement and anticipation.

The final step of developing the necessary step-by-step action plan is actually quite simple. Initially, people fret over their uncertainty of being able to complete these three critical steps, but we have developed powerful tools to make the process fun, quick and easy.

Others worry that they will not benefit from the program. However, it is quite simple to demonstrate that through the completion of these three “must do” activities we will find significant opportunities to get their money working harder and lasting longer so they can do more with their life and worry less.

For a simple illustration of just one of these many opportunities, I encourage you to play our new “Retirement Tax Game” at www.futuresbydesign.ca/dmo.

We have had a substantial amount of families complete the Designing My OK process. I can confidently claim that in each family that has completed the process, it has had a significant positive impact upon the level of confidence, excitement and the peace of mind with which these families now view the future that awaits them. For testimonials, see here or visit our YouTube channel.

If you have not yet completed the program, I encourage you to register for our fall webinar program that begins on the following date:

October 25th at 7pm

Click Here to register, or email us at info@designingmyok.com

Taking Charge of Your Health – Larry King Talks Alzheimer’s

Sep 18, 2014

“Alzheimer’s disease – the degenerative brain condition that is not content to simply kill its victims, it must first snuff out their essence.” – Time Magazine, October 31, 2010

By age 85, an individual has a 50% chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease. It’s a matter of a flipping a coin. Chances are if you don’t have Alzheimer’s, you will be caring for someone who does.

The Grim Statistics:
• The incidence of Alzheimer’s disease is reaching epidemic proportions. Today, 500,000 Canadians have the disease or a related dementia.
• Alzheimer’s disease is considered the second most feared disease of aging.
• While 1: 11 people 65 years of age and older suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, 71,000 Canadians < 65 have the disease.
• It is estimated that one person is diagnosed every five minutes and it is projected that by 2035, 1.1 million Canadians will be living with Alzheimer’ or a related dementia.
• Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death, after heart disease, cancer, stroke, CLRD, and accidents. Death rates from heart disease, stroke and HIV have declined but with Alzheimer’s, it has increased 66%
• Women represent 72% of all cases of the disease.
• Alzheimer’s disease places tremendous pressure on families, especially women. The hours of care delivered by unpaid family members are expected to more than triple from 231 million hours in 2008 to 756 million hours by 2038
• Dementia costs Canadians $15 billion/year. By 2038 this number is expected to grow 10 times to $153 billion

What is Alzheimer’s disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common of a large group of disorders know as the ‘dementias.’ It is an irreversible, progressive degeneration of brain cells that causes thinking ability and memory to deteriorate. The disease also affects behavior, mood and emotions and the ability to perform activities of daily living. The cause is unknown, although there are risk factors that have been identified that may play a role in the development of the disease. There is presently no cure and no known intervention or treatment that will prevent or delay the onset or progression of the disease. Once diagnosed, individual’s progress slowly through different stages until the final stages of life, usually after seven to ten years from diagnosis. Symptoms vary among individuals as different areas of the brain are targeted by the disease.

Alzheimer’s disease causes you to lose your identity

In a 2011 Larry King Special on CNN entitled ‘Unthinkable: The Alzheimer’s Epidemic’, actress Angie Dickinson, who cared for her mother as she suffered with the condition, said: “It robs you of your life because you don’t know who you are or where you are and you can no longer comprehend what is going on around you.” You become a helpless child again. Caregivers are faced with trying to balance career, children, marriage and the taxing, 24/7 responsibility of caring for a loved one with the disease.

Given the horrendous statistics that Canadians face with regard to this degenerative disease, have you considered how this diagnosis would impact you, your future and your loved ones? What steps have you taken to protect yourself and your family? Statistics show that there is a very real possibility of becoming a caregiver for someone you love with this disease. Would you be able to cope? Do you have the time and the resources to provide the constant care required?

Unfortunately, the burden of health care is shifting to the individual and care for a person with Alzheimer’s can quickly erode a lifetime of savings. One of the ways to alleviate the stress on your or family members is to consider investing in Long Term Care Insurance. It funds the care – quality care – where you want it, when you want and without impacting your savings or assets, all the while easing the anxiety of caring for someone with the disease. It provides choice, freedom, control, flexibility and protection.

Understanding this complex condition and the challenges it presents is critical especially as the population of Canada ages and baby boomers reach age 60. To learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and the 10 warning signs, risk factors and steps you can take to determine or reduce your risk for developing the disease, visit Alzheimer’s Association and check out their Brain Tour.