You’d probably be surprised if you sat in on some of the meetings I have with some of my tax planning and preparation clients.
This is by no means the majority of my clients, but there is certainly a good subset of people who have piled away a ton of financial resources … but who are bored, tired and a little numb.
And, of course, there are those among my Pennsylvania clientele who have not yet reached the financial (or otherwise) zenith they’ve been working so hard towards, and yet they are still stuck in the grind of “everyday living”. Often, they haven’t taken the time to re-assess whether or not what they’re shooting for is, in fact, the place where they will be most alive.
They haven’t taken the time to dream. And, more importantly, they haven’t put a concrete plan to whatever dreams they might have had in earlier days. They’re dragged around by their nose by whatever circumstance comes their way.
Maybe “they” is you?
It’s never too late.
Before I get there I did want to urge you to consider something in light of this past year’s tax return: adjust your withholding.
You’ll want to do this by submitting a new W-4 to your payroll office regardless of whether you got a big tax refund this year or ended up owing Uncle Sam some money.
Ideally, you want to pay in through withholding (and estimated taxes for some of us) as close to your eventual bill as possible. That will mean you will have your money in your hands throughout the year, instead of having to wait for the U.S. Treasury to cut you a check or directly deposit the money.
It’s a small thing, but it makes the tax process so much less painful.
Now, assuming you’ve got your withholding where you want it to be, let’s talk about avoiding that numb haze I’ve seen so often.
In fact, why don’t you consider printing out this note, shutting down your computer, and doing a little dream-planning right now?
Here’s a suggested format…
Dreaming Big Must Come Before Financial Planning by Fred Johnson
“Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forward.” -Soren Kierkegaard
Get a piece of paper and make a list of all the things you want to do during your lifetime–no matter how crazy or undoable some of those things might seem. If you want to go on an African safari and become a famous gorilla researcher, then write it down. If you want to sip coffee at a Left Bank café in Paris, then by all means, put it on your list.
Include all the seemingly mundane things you want to do, too. Do you want to spend more time with your children, your spouse, or your parents? Write it down. Don’t hold back. Be as wild and daring as you want to be. Let yourself dream big.
Once you have finished the above exercise (and not necessarily in the same sitting) take another piece of paper and ask yourself, “If I had a million dollars in the bank that was exclusively for me–and I had no responsibilities and knew I would not need the money in the future–how would I choose to spend a perfect day?” Maybe you want to write a novel, talk to a friend, or own a ranch and raise goats. Whatever it is, write out your perfect sort of day. These are not necessarily the big event things you want to experience, but your idea of your perfect day of living. Again, don’t hold back.
People are often surprised at how powerful these two exercises are.
How do they help you?
They help you know what are your ACTUAL big dreams. They help you see clearly where your priorities reside. And they help you see how far away you are from, or close you are to, your dreams and your more ideal daily existence.
And once you know that, then you can lay out a plan that lets you use your precious time for what you really want in life.
This can be really fun, if you let it be so. Shut off your cynicism, take fifteen minutes … and send me an email about your experience with it.
I’d love to help you formulate a financial plan to get there.
Johnson, Johnson & Associates, Inc.