- When should I sell my shares?
- What do I do with my stock options?
- How should I invest my cash?
- Should I buy a house?
- How do I save for my child’s education?
The questions get specific. Each question seems to require a distinct answer.
But, a five year vision will address them all.
A five year vision helps to cut through the confusion. It replaces uncertainty with clarity. Your vision gives you the power to focus.
Goals: The Focus of Our Work
At KB Financial Advisors all our work focuses on goals. We find from working with clients that one year goals are easy.
We all have an idea of what we’re going to be doing next year.
- How much money we’re going to make
- Where we will be living
- What trips we will take
One year is clear.
Most clients struggle to create a five-year vision. Five years becomes more of a blank page.
The Blank Page Approach
The blank page is what most people have for a five year vision of the future. The blank page is:
- Five years is a long time
- I’m not sure what I will be doing or where I will be
- I don’t want to screw things up
Put another way.
I don’t know what five years looks like, but I am open to new opportunities. Help me prepare a financial plan to avoid mistakes and take advantage of opportunities.
How to Replace the Blank Page with Your Perfect Day
We are going to replace that blank page with a clear picture. A clear picture of your perfect day five years from now.
Before we do, let’s first think about the past.
Remember Five Years Ago?
Think back for a moment to five years ago.
- Where were you?
- What was your income?
- What was your net worth?
Are you surprised?
Thinking about where you were five years ago helps us recognize a few things about the next five years.
First the next five years will pass by quickly. Time does not slow down. As you get older and progress in your life and career, time speeds up.
Second you’ll be as surprised then about the next five years as you are now about the last five years. The pattern will repeat itself. We overestimate what we can do in a day but underestimate what we can do in a year.
The next five years will surprise you.
Knowing that, we can look forward to the next five years and create a vision for the future. An idea of what we want those next five years to look like.
We can be intentional and proactive now about choosing what you want the next five years to look like.
Five Steps to Create a Five Year Vision
You can create your five year vision in five simple steps.
1. Find a Partner
Start by finding a partner. Your partner should be your spouse, if you are married. It can be your partner or a close friend if you are single.
2. Imagine Your Perfect Day
Now, close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths. Imagine your perfect day five years from now.
Fill in the details.
- Where are you?
- What are you doing?
- What time of day is it?
- What month?
- Who are you with?
Paint the picture. Fill in all the details. Realize that there is no right or wrong. You choose what to include in your vision; it is yours and yours alone.
Money: Likely Absent From Your Vision
We have observed, with clients, that most of us don’t talk about money. Money can and will support your vision of the future. Your financial plan revolves around your goals.
But, you may find that money is more of a silent partner in your vision. Money exists and flows in the background. It’s not so much a direct part of your perfect day.
3. Write Down Your Vision
Now write it all down. All the details. All the gaps. You have to write it all down.
4. Repeat for 21 Days
For the next twenty one days, spend five minutes everyday reimagining your vision of the future.
Go back to that perfect day five years from now. Reimagine all the details you just wrote down. Everyday add a new detail. Make the vision clearer.
Share the new details with your partner.
5. Anchor Your Vision
At the end of twenty one days you will buy a gift. If you’re doing this with your spouse, you will buy a gift representing your spouse’s vision. Your spouse will do the same for you.
If you’re doing this with a friend, have your friend buy a gift for you. A gift that represents your vision of the perfect day.
The gift serves as a visual reminder. It’s a way to anchor your vision. Every day for the next five years you need to look at that gift.
Translate Five Years into Today
So how do you translate that vision of a perfect day five years from now into what you should be doing right now?
You need to translate it into a daily habit. Focus on your gift as an anchor. Focus on your vision to direct your course.
Do this is by repeating a smaller version of the twenty one day exercise.
Choose a time that works best for you. if you are a morning person, start your day with this. If you are a night owl, end your day with this.
Choose a time during the day when your mind is most clear, when you know that you can do this every day.
Spend five minutes everyday thinking about your vision. close your eyes and imagine that perfect day. There’s a lot of power in doing this.
As you become clear about what your perfect day looks like, you will identify what you need to do right now. This is how you translate a vision five years into the future into an action step today.
Work with Your Advisor
One of our eight core philosophies is ideas. The basis of this core philosophy, ideas, is for you to be innovative while we are technical.
We want our clients to focus on the vision while we focus on the details. We focus on what they’re doing with their money this year to reach that vision five years from now.
This is where you start to put dollars and cents to the vision.
- What income level do you need to reach to support your vision?
- How does your career change in order for you to achieve that perfect date?
- What net worth level do you need to Target 5 years from now?
- What needs to change about your financial life?
Identify the technical steps and specific actions you need to take right now. Translate 5 years into one year, into one week, into one day. What do you need to do right now?
Adapt as You Go
It is also important to adapt as you go. Your vision is not etched in stone. It is a photo of the future. You can stay open to new opportunities but your vision will keep you anchored against the storms of life.
A client came to me with a question about selling their house and building a new one. We talked about it at length.
I told them that what they were proposing to do wasn’t wrong. It wasn’t a bad idea. I thought they could do it.
But, I let them know this represented a sharp departure from the vision that they shared with me.
It’s fine to depart from your vision in pursuit of new opportunities. Just make sure that you’re aware of the trade-offs.
You want to know that this new opportunity represents a better vision of the future. That it’s not just coming from a fear of missing out or a fleeting moment.
The Power of a Five Year Vision
At KB Financial Advisors we believe in the power of a five-year vision. It’s something that we’ve experienced not only with our clients but also in our own life.
In 2010 I was just starting out as a financial advisor. Melissa, my wife, and I attended a training conference for new advisors. One goal-setting session used a vision exercise like the one described here.
The advisor teaching the course wanted someone to role-play the exercise. Melissa and I volunteered. We each in turn imagined our perfect day. We answered the questions:
We filled in all the details.
Our vision was similar with one significant exception.
We each imagined having children. We differed on the number of children we would have in five years.
Melissa imagined us having two kids. I imagined us having three.
When I said we would have three kids, Melissa laughed out loud and exclaimed, “You’re crazy!”
Five years later our third child was born.
Just this year, we purchased our second house. The house we bought was part of our five year vision. For more than a year, I got up everyday and spent five minutes imagining this house.
As part of our vision, we identified two streets with a total of 24 houses.
I researched twenty-five years of property records. On average a house sold on those two streets every 3 years.
The infrequent sales, the price, and our income made us believe that it would be years before that vision became a reality.
Just over a year later a house on one of those streets came up for sale. The size and the condition of the house put it in our price range. After a lot of hard work and near misses, we were able to close on the house.
5 for 5: Resources to Help You Achieve Your Vision
Here are five resources to help you achieve your five year vision.
G.E. Miller describes how to manage the uncertainty (gap) between where you are now and where you want to be.
This is really important. Your vision may be a lot different than your reality. Don’t get frustrated.
Manage the gap by identifying the small steps you need to take to realize a big vision.
Combining Charlie Munger and Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ben Austin develops a simple, daily visualization exercise.
This is the exercise I practice everyday. I like the way Ben focuses on twelve to eighteen months.
I keep my five year vision always in mind. But, focusing on the more immediate twelve month version helps me identify what I should be doing now.
It stands for You Need A Budget, and we all do.
Your money is the fuel that fires your vision. YNAB is the best budgetting tool. It’s the tool I use.
Use YNAB to focus on what to do with your money now to help you pursue your five year vision.
Hiring a financial advisor is like investing in your vision. A Good advisor will help you identify what you need to do with your money to achieve your vision.
Ready to get started? You can schedule a call with us today.
Amazon is helpful in two ways.
First, you can use Amazon to buy a gift for your spouse or partner. The gift helps anchor their vision.
They can use Amazon to do the same for you.
One client’s vision involved walking the dog. His spouse bought him a hook for hanging the dog leash. The sign on the hook read, “Take a walk with a friend today.”
Get creative. Buy something meaningful.
Second, Amazon serves as a source of knowledge. Buy books that will help you develop the mindset and skills necessary to your vision.
Having a clear five-year vision is important to your financial plan. It may be the piece your plan is missing.
In working with clients, we find that one-year goals are easy. But, most of our five year visions are a blank page.
Partner with a friend, significant other, or spouse to develop your five-year vision.
Anchor your vision and translate it into action steps. Use the five resources to help.