My oldest son and I spent time on campus last week taking part in freshman orientation.  The students were split up in small groups from the start and set off to explore campus and have fun.  Meanwhile in the auditorium, parents heard from various university leaders on a host of topics in an engaging format.

Orientation was successful as two different messages were tailored to two different audiences: students, and their parents.  Knowing your audience is important so your message may be communicated effectively.  Having clarity on what you want to share and keeping things simple make an impact.  My message today, to you the reader, is straightforward, how’s your year going?  Are you happy with the progress you are making?

Before answering this question, reflect for a minute beyond where your investment values stand.  It’s easy to let the amount you have saved and invested influence your outlook and attitude on life.  Yes, there is a certain level of necessity and comfort we all need.  I’m assuming those reading this have that box checked already.  What’s more challenging is to park your account values to the side and think about where you stand personally.  Are you moving in a positive direction towards what you want to accomplish?  If not, what’s holding you back?

Money and the obligations that follow it including the financial habits we inherited from our parents all add up.  For better or worse they influence who we are today and how we spend, invest, and save.  Money can be a consistent focus if we allow it as we go about our lives.  This can be detrimental when we define who we are by how much we’ve accumulated or hope to one day.  There is a better approach, one that prioritizes time and goals first; dollars second.

As a financial planner, I believe it’s more important to begin with what you want to accomplish long term and work backwards.  What do you want out of life, your priorities, and where you choose to spend your time?  That’s ok if you don’t know yet.  Much like freshman arriving on campus, it’s likely they’ll change their major three times before graduation.  You may change your mind too or simply need to call a time out to think freely about what you want.

Having a conversation on all your possibilities is time well spent.  This avoids focusing on financial resources and outcomes out of your control.  Markets will expand and contract overtime and life moves on.  Creating a plan with intention based on your priorities is a positive forward step.  This puts energy and importance on your time and what’s done with it each day.

Successful planning includes embracing the value of time and working to control more of it as you get older.  It shouldn’t be defined by how much money is accumulated, though this dated value proposition continues to be widely accepted.  Wealth is an outcome of following a process, staying flexible, and practicing discipline.  It shouldn’t be the focus of what you are working towards, though the desire for more is strong.  Try to avoid this head fake and consider a narrower path.  The one less traveled that allows you to define what enough means so your journey is enjoyable.

Repurposing your time arrives when you control where you are, what you are doing, around cool people you want to hang out with.  This to me is the pinnacle of planning.  Dollars make it a reality, but they are a byproduct of the process.  Having control of your time and where you spend it is priceless.  This choice provides freedoms many won’t discover with a dollars first approach.  That’s unfortunate and completely unavoidable by creating a plan and working towards making your goals a reality.

When you’re ready to explore a conversation together, reach out and we’d be happy to chat with you.

Advisory services through Cambridge Investment Research Advisors, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor. Cambridge and Flowerstone Financial are not affiliated.

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