By Jessica Lanning, JD, CFP®

 

Last week I got The Lecture from my physical therapist.  

I was whining about doing all these exercises, how managing an older body takes up too much time, how youth is wasted on the young, and how I fear I’ll have to do these exercises for the rest of my life. 

“Jessica,” he starts.  

(Why do lectures always start with your name?!)

“Once we hit our 40s, we lose 10% of our muscle mass and 8% of our VO2 max every decade unless we do something to counteract these inevitable downward slides to decay and death.”  

That last part was my dramatic embellishment, but — let’s face it — this is how lectures land, especially since I already know these statistics. I just never thought they would apply to me. 

“And if you want to keep being active in your life and skiing,” he continues.  

(Wait?! Did he say skiing? Of course, I’m going to keep skiing.)

“Then you will probably have to do these exercises for the rest of your life.”  

Ugh. I know he tells the truth.  And because he’s helped heal my hamstring and made me feel healthier and more robust, my brain insists I listen to him.  I would call this unfair, but I know he shares this information from the love of his profession and a commitment to do right by me, his client. 

 

Financial planning doesn’t have to be rife with lectures.

I know I’m equally guilty of lectures in my profession.  

My worst offense is The Lecture on getting one’s estate planning done.  I’ve had too much direct (bad) experience with estate planning gone undone or wrong, and I don’t want anyone in my world to fall victim.  

I lecture from a place of experience and love.  I’m sure it frequently falls on deaf ears.  I’m not giving up the crusade.  

I am not the worst offender in my office, however.  That designation belongs to my clients. 

Most of the time, I find my clients bring their internal lectures, and I don’t have to do a thing.

 

What lectures are you telling yourself?

 

Just in the last two weeks, clients have brought the lectures they’ve internalized into my office.  

—We/I haven’t saved enough.

—We/I keep meaning to get the house titled in the trust and don’t get to it.

—We/I spend too much money and need to stop.

—We/I should have done financial planning a long time ago.

And this is the shortlist.  These are things they already “know.” I don’t have to deliver The Lecture. 

 

What lies on the other side:  Dreams and desires

I would have discounted entirely — or completely ignored as inapplicable to me — everything my physical therapist said except that he said the word “skiing.”  

I love skiing.  I want to ski for as long as I can. I have friends in their 80s who are still skiing.  I know I can have many more years of powder hitting me in the chest on a bluebird day, leaving fresh tracks behind me.

So I do the (expletive) exercises.  

This is the promise for you:  If you do the work, start new habits, and hold the vision, your chances of achieving what you want increase dramatically.  You will want more once you get a taste of that clarity and confidence.  It’s — dare I say — fun.

 

Start where you are.  Do the best with what you’ve got.

I’m not getting a new back, inheriting new genes, growing taller, or stopping time. My physical therapist and I are going to have to work with the body, the energy, and the resources I’ve got. 

Here is the best thing this therapist says to me that I will tell you:  “We are a long way from running out of options. If you’re up to continuing to work, let’s keep going.”  

The same goes for your financial planning.  You have to start where you are, work with what you’ve got, and optimize it.  Yes, it can be tedious and complicated and the last thing you feel like doing today.  

But imagine if it gives you skiing.  Or a chance to quit working for a paycheck.  Or to travel.  Start that new company. Take that sabbatical. Send that kid to college.  Buy that second home.  

You must do your physical therapy exercises and regularly revisit your financial plan.  It’s worth it for the opportunity that you want in your life. 

 

 

Jessica LanningAbout the Author:

Jessica Lanning JD, CFP® brings focus and perspective to your individual financial needs to identify your opportunities for investment and wealth. Regardless of what you’ve done before or what “mistakes” you think you’ve made, Jessica can help get you back on track quickly and safely. As a former practicing lawyer, she brings a comprehensive approach to legal, tax, and financial challenges so that her clients can enjoy peace of mind. A huge proponent of conscious decision-making, Jessica makes sure her clients are educated and informed so that they make sound decisions with clarity and confidence. 

 

Lanning Financial Inc. is a registered investment adviser. The information presented is for educational purposes only and does not intend to make an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of any specific securities, investments, or investment strategies. Investments involve risk and unless otherwise stated, are not guaranteed. Be sure to first consult with a qualified financial adviser and/or tax professional before implementing any strategy discussed herein. Past performance is not indicative of future performance.

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