When Goals get Interrupted by Values

Twenty years ago, our plan was to get the kids through college then retire in Hawaii.  We crunched the numbers, calculated what we needed to accomplish our financial goals, and set to task.  Ah, retire!  We looked at the price tag for a house on Maui with room for family, the golf club membership and how to fund the lifestyle we wanted.  The goal was set.  We were deliberate and diligent.  We diversified and were disciplined, factoring in inflation, managing risk and rates of return.   Economic cycles threw us some curve balls, and we adjusted expectations.  We made mistakes, got back up and on track.  We were going to make it happen!


In retrospect, I can see our motivation.  It was the “carrot” at the end of a hard worked career.  Daniel Pink’s  book ‘Drive’ expounds on self-determination theory.  He proposes that humans have an innate drive to be autonomous, self-determined and connected to one another, and that when that drive is liberated, we achieve more and live fuller, richer lives.  This started playing out for us, and the “carrot” wasn’t enough.


Life has a way of usurping the best laid plans.  About ten years in, life wasn’t working so smoothly and we started asking ourselves some hard questions.  With wise counsel surrounding us in a variety of areas, we pressed into uncertainty.  We tackled the tough stuff and looked at rewriting our game plan.


George Kinder, CFP® one of the fathers of ‘Financial Life Planning’ shares that “each of us carries within a secret yearning – a yearning that, as time and life march on, often becomes a secret sorrow.  That yearning will be different for each of us as it is the most deeply longed-for expression of self.  Only to the degree that we, each of us, are able to bring forth our own heart’s core, will our lives feel fulfilled, truly worth-while”.


In their book ‘Life Matters’ , authors Roger and Rebecca Merill remind us that our time and our money are important resources and both are “languages of value.”  “They are highly interrelated, and the way we spend both communicates what’s important in our lives.”


We were coached through the ‘Halftime Institute®’, and along with my training in the area of financial life planning, we explored what money really meant to us.  We dug into the tangible and intangible components of our finances.  We looked at the qualitative and the quantitative aspects of our lives and what we needed to re-tool as we moved forward.


Our goal setting started to look very different as we uncovered what spoke to our core values and what would give us meaning and purpose as we headed into the second half of our lives. We examined and explored the desires of our hearts in regards to our careers and our family.  What did we need to change in order to savor hope and avoid regrets to the best of our ability?   The financial pieces were laid out on the table and put together differently as the picture of our future dramatically changed.  This included a career makeover for Mark and additional schooling for both of us. Change is never easy and never complete, but it can be very fulfilling!  Our days look very different than we envisioned twenty years ago, and we are both very grateful for the journey we are on.


New Year’s resolutions are around the corner.  Goal setting is usually in the foreground as you anticipate what will unfold in 2015. As you gather around the fire and enjoy the company of family and friends this holiday, contemplate:  If you could live your perfect life, what elements would be involved?

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