Happy October Everyone,
October is National Financial Planning Month and this month I wanted to share some insight and generate awareness into a something that I have occasionally observed while consulting with clients.
Catoptrophobia (ca-top-tro-phobia) is the fear of mirrors, and more specifically, the images reflected within them. Experts believe the fear could have developed in the early history, when people believed the images they saw in the water were their souls looking back at them which frightened them. Sounds kind of spooky, but hey, it is October.
Taking this one step further, a “Phobia” of any type generally is an overwhelming and unreasonable fear of a situation, object, or perception that poses minimal danger but provokes anxiety and/or avoidance.
Ok, you may be thinking, so what does catoptrophobia that have to do with financial planning?
Fear of Reflections.
It really boils down to unhealthy self-reflection that hinders one to dive deep into the psyche to find understanding and resolve. I have observed during client meetings that some really struggle with looking objectively at their financial habits, don’t want to address the potential outcomes of those habits, or simply struggle with understanding their core values and how to implement those values into a financial plan. These struggles can often lead to anxiety, conflicts with oneself and family, and potentially lead one to avoid the dialog altogether. Truth be told, it is difficult for some to believe that they can deal with these fears and move past them in a helpful way. But it can be done.
My goal, which should be the goal for the entire financial services industry, is to help those we serve to move past the “Mirror of Fear” mindset and help them craft a strategy that is focused, clear, and reflective of where they are in life financially and to serve as a catalyst to move forward confidently with the recommendations.
What is the Struggle?
Some are afraid of what shortfalls their plan may initially discover and don’t want to address issues, such as if they are spending too much or saving too little. They don’t want to address the idea of them dying and what that means financially for those that are left behind. It’s not that they are actually afraid of a financial plan, it’s that they are afraid of the reflections within it. Often, avoidance becomes the default measure because they struggle to deal with these irrational thoughts and the work it takes to resolve these issues.
Awareness and Guidance – The best time to start is right now.
To me, National Financial Planning Month should be about generating awareness and guidance for those that may have never crafted a financial plan before or to those that may have years ago, but feel now is the time to elevate their plan to a higher level. It is a process that should actually minimize anxiety and, hopefully, replace it with empowerment and control over ones financial future. This can be done either on your own or with that assistance of a financial service professional. Both ways, the process should begin and end based upon what’s important to the individual(s).
The first step is about defining objectives and values. To help illustrate a useful process, I am sharing what we use with our clients during this phase of planning.
Mini-Action – Defining Your Values
- Let's answer your why
- Conduct theobjectives and values conversation
- Complete the goals worksheet
- Collect and organize your financial information
Mini-Action – Make Meaningful Milestones and Set Your Goals
- Choose dates that mean something
- Don’t worry about how, for now
- Make goals tangible (i.e. those that require money and planning to achieve)
Mini-Action – Benchmark your current plan
- Gather statements that reflect current values
- Adhere to provided document checklist
- Organize data within a robust comprehensive financial planning analysis system
Once these mini-actions have been completed, the real work beings. This is where you and/or your financial professional will begin applying certain financial principles, assumptions, guidelines, calculations and variables for unique situations to reflect the monetary requirements of the goals you have set.
What else can I learn?
For some, it is about access to information to help them understand a subject prior to meeting with anyone. To help with this important component of advising and educating the public, I am happy to share the following videos from our Client Education and Digital Library.
I have enjoyed compiling my thoughts for this month’s newsletter for you. I hope that by sharing my thoughts on the importance of financial awareness and the physiological challenges that money and life can bring, I am empowering some of you to act or to share our words to those that you care about and may appreciate some help. We spend the majority of our time helping individuals, business owners, and professionals deal with the wide array of issues that arise while creating, preserving, and eventually, transferring wealth. In many cases, a second opinion is all that is needed.
As always, I’m honored and humbled that you have given me the opportunity to serve. If you have any concerns or questions, please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 515-457-2930, and we can talk. That’s what I’m here for.
Phil E. Gose