A good financial plan has philosophical underpinnings that go
beyond how you allocate assets, pay for your child's college, buy
insurance coverage and all the rest. To get the most out of a plan,
it's vital to take control of your life psychologically. Here are
three ways to do that.
Getting control of your life can be vexing because fate doesn't
always cooperate with our plans. An example: The last winter was
relatively mild in the Upper Midwest, where I live, but cold on the
East Coast. On a ski trip to Park City, Utah, I met some fellow
skiers from New York who lamented that they traveled all the way
across the U.S. when they would have had better snow in
Although we plan our trips for the most temperate time, we can't
control the weather when those dates arrive. What we can control,
however, is how we respond when our plans do not turn out the way
In his best-selling book,
advocates three essential elements that science proves motivate us:
1) autonomy - the desire to direct our own lives, 2) mastery - the
urge to get better and 3) purpose - the yearning to contribute to
something larger than ourselves.
As we work together to create a financial plan, we keep these
three elements in mind to help us stay focus and motivated.
Autonomy in our financial plan is having choices. We all have
constraints on our time and energy. It's what we do with them
Every time we say "yes" to one thing, we are saying "no" to
something else. To see if we are on track toward financial
independence, we look at our calendar and bank statements. Are they
pointing toward those bigger yesses?
Mastery means that you use your resources to pursue your life's
real wealth, which is comprised of the things that cannot be taken
away from you - your intellectual, emotional capital and social
For some, this may mean going back to school for advanced
degrees; for others, a career transition or new business pursuit.
It may also be to master a hobby or to help a troubled family
member. If you consistently use your time, energy and money to work
toward mastery in these areas, your financial capital will follow
Purpose in your financial plan ought to go without saying. The
point of planning and investing is not simply to have more money.
While retirement may be a goal, what it stands for is what
The extra trips to visit grandkids, the ability to volunteer
more, the chance to pursue mastery of the hobbies we have set aside
while we worked or the opportunity to fall in love with our spouse
all over again are the things that make retirement meaningful.
When we make autonomy, mastery and purpose a part of our
financial plan, the uncontrollable elements become less
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Joe Pitzl, CFP, is the managing partner at
in Arden Hills, Minn., and also writes at
. Follow Joe on Twitter at
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