Journey Home (Blog Post)


The sound of my FR-S’s engine is the only noise that permeates the stillness of the tranquil mountainside. My hand hangs out the window, feeling the cool air rush past it. I turn sharply at the next apex, relishing the force that carries my little car around the corner. I feel free. The engine carries me up the mountainside toward my family’s cabin. I can already picture the creek and the nighttime campfire. The vision causes me to press my foot down, moving up the mountain faster toward my destination.

Imagine knowing nothing of a career, not even dreaming it would exist, and then standing on its most sacred ground five years later. It’s awe-inspiring. Hana is the epicenter of life planning, brought into existence by George Kinder. With the goal of connecting the mental side of money with the meaning that we are looking for in our lives, life planning is an incredible way to work with clients. If you missed the previous blog posts in this series, please go read or listen to Journey to Hana and Journey in Hana. Those blog posts form the basis for this one and will provide great context.

The snippet of a story that I started this post with is both part of my vision statement, developed in Hana, and something that was a reality last week. My vision for the future of my life involves time in the mountains. I love being surrounded by nature, by familiarity and calm. I know that by having more of that in my life, I will be a more devoted friend, family member, and partner. It also inspires me creatively and refreshes me, making me more able to do the work I’m passionate about upon my return.

All of this came from a simple, meaningful question we were asked in Hana: “If you could design your ideal life...what would be most important to you?”

That question is the foundation for one of the conversations we have with our clients as life planners. It doesn’t just ask the client what is important to them now, but what would be most important to them if the restrictions were removed. It opens up a vision for the future. It allows the person responding to the question to create their perfect life, free from judgment.

I’ve asked this question to clients countless times since returning from Hana. It has served to deepen already-existing relationships, and get new ones started off with a deeper level of understanding. It has given me the fuel to “Light the Torch” for them and show them that their ideal life is possible, or something very close to it. It provides the motivation to get the work done that needs to be done.

You might be thinking “That’s silly, it’s just a question! It can’t do all that!” And you would absolutely be correct. Questions like this one are not powerful outside of context. What we also learned in Hana was how to set up the question and the space for its asking, how to listen when the client responds, and how to follow-up the question with more than just “Oh yeah, I’ve felt the same way!” All of these skills matter or the question falls flat.

There is, of course, much more to life planning than just that one question. That’s just the beginning. There are the Three Questions we use in the next meeting, there are obstacles to overcome, and innumerable ways to fine tune what the client is telling you. But, I chose to focus on this question for a reason.

This question has been the foundation for my work on myself over the last six months. Since I returned from Hana my life, like yours, has changed dramatically. The training in Hana was in January, which for most of us feels like a lifetime ago. That was back before we couldn’t see all of our friends or family, before we had to skip out on trips and outings we’d planned, and before an officer killed a man by kneeling on his neck, drawing attention to the systemic racism that has plagued our country. It was also before I knew whether my step mom would make it through her cancer treatments, before I got separated from my wife, and before my business surged dramatically, giving me a ton of new work to focus on. It was a different time.

Over the last six months I’ve focused on designing life the way I want to be living it, following that simple question. What does my ideal life look like? What things, people, or feelings are at the center of that world? Who do I want to be? How can I get there?

That’s what the Journey Home has been for me. It hasn’t been about literally getting on a plane and flying back from Hawaii. It hasn’t been about driving from the airport to an apartment I no longer live in. It most certainly hasn’t been about a physical location or a roof over my head. I am thankful to have that, though.

The Journey Home for me has been about reconnecting with things that I’d pushed away. There are aspects of myself that had, for good reasons, not been a priority in my life over the last few years. There are goals that hadn’t been able to be focused on while I was starting a business or going through my CFP® certification. My ideal life includes a lot of those things that had been shut away for years. Now that I have the time, freedom, and resources to start looking at that future, it’s been an absolute thrill to start working on it.

That’s what Life Planning and Hana are all about. The system for Life Planning is a necessary container, it creates the structure the planner needs to interact with in order to help the client do this work. But, the beauty of Life Planning isn’t the system. The beauty of Life Planning is the result.

The result is moving forward toward a life that inspires you. It’s vigor that can take you up the mountain toward the cabin you want, no matter what the turns look like or how the weather is that day. It’s vision that can show you what is possible and knowledge of the path that can get you there. The result is inspiration.

If you are asking yourself the question that I posed at the beginning of this post and the ‘ideal life’ is hard to see, or if you know what the ideal life looks like, but it feels almost dreamlike or unattainable, reach out to a life planner. We’re here to help you, because that’s what Hana was about. The Journey wasn’t about us getting back to the feeling of ‘home’, though we did get that. It was about us getting to learn how to life plan for you, so that you can find your own ‘home’ in your ideal life.

Hit Reset (Blog Post)


The sunk cost fallacy is a powerful, real psychological effect. You can see it at play in both personal decisions “But, I already bought X...so I have to pay Y for upkeep.” and in the decisions of corporations “We worked so hard on X project...it’s 90% to completion. We may as well pay our employees to have it finished.” In both cases, X has been invalidated by a new idea, technology, or item. Yet, in both cases, X is still pursued because we spent money or time on it, and we like to see outcomes from those investments. This effect can also explain why gamers will pour time and energy into finishing the narrative of a game, even if they’re not enjoying it.

What’s the solution?

Hit the reset button. Take a step back and pull the plug. Redesign it from the ground up. Stop doing it.

Financial planning often addresses this in the form of an annual review. After recapping all of our work together over the year, I will often ask my clients: “What did we miss?” they will often say “Nothing, we did great!” So then I follow up with a simple. “Okay, if you were to design your ideal life, what would be most important to you?”

Sometimes my clients roll their eyes at me then, and I laugh. We almost always uncover something new in that conversation though. It goes back to human nature. Our plans are invalidated by our new desires. You may have thought you wanted to buy that house and that would be the pinnacle for you, but once you have it...well, there’s a new pinnacle. We never fully self-actualize. There’s always another level.

How do you hit the reset button personally, especially in a time of chaos like we’re in right now?

The answer for you will likely be deeply personal. What puts you in the state of mind most necessary for reflection and planning will be your own solution. I can tell you that what I will be doing this weekend is kicking off a week in the mountains on my own. I’ll be sitting in solitude, writing down my thoughts and vision for the next stage of my business and my life. I’ll redesign things as if I was starting from scratch. I’ll reflect, think, and analyze all the new data and thoughts from the last six months that I can to come up with. That will determine the next step.

That said, my business likely won’t change dramatically. I’ve been doing this process for the last three years, every year. How I’ve gotten the time, such as my mountain retreat this weekend, has been different. But, the core idea and process has remained the same. I simply know that I need to look at things from the outside every so often. Otherwise, I’ll fall prey to the same fallacy and human tendencies we all do.

So hit reset. Look at your life anew. If you were starting from now, with the resources you have and no major constraints, what would you do differently?

Are Financial Planners Worth It? l Min/Maxing Money

Ian talks about the process of working with a financial planner and answers the incredibly self reflective question. Oh yeah, and he gives you three simple stats to understand.

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