Disruptive Imagination

Imagination is “the greatest creative force in the universe,” claimed Albert Einstein. The keys at my fingertips, the computer transforming the clicks into hundreds of 0’s and 1’s, the copper lines and fibers of light delivering them to the device in front of you with its thousands of tiny light emitting diodes that project the letters you are reading, all started in the imagination. In fact, as you look around, you might be hard pressed to find anything within your reach that doesn’t have its origins in the imaginings of creative people.

But while the imagination undoubtedly powers creative good, it can just as powerfully sap our creative talents, energies, and ambitions and rob us of quality of life. Whether we find ourselves under a pile of ‘need-to-dos’ or feel consumed by fears of rising healthcare, retirement, or the fate of our country, the effects of ‘disruptive imagination’ or worry are all the same – we are entrapped and diminished by it.

As financial advisors, we encounter disruptive imagination often and in many forms. At the extremes, clients might resist coming in out of fear their worries, trivial or major, will be confirmed, under the bright light of analysis. They might be embarrassed or feel guilty for not having done the things they agreed last meeting were important to do, like buying long-term care insurance, updating their wills, or adding to their investments in the amounts or frequency planned. At worst, they may have buried a dream or passion, convinced by their imaginings that it is impossible to accomplish.

Even healthy financial advisory relationships can be challenged by the anchors of disruptive imagination which exist outside the spoken planning process. Making it worse, the advisor walks a fine line between discovery of and encouragement regarding the issues. Compounding the difficulty, is the fact our reasons for failing to accomplish things we know are important are usually deeper than the reasons we give.

We might put off getting that term life policy because we fear learning something about our health we don’t currently know. We delay our wills because we don’t want to imagine what life for our family would be like without us – ironically our delay leaves our family vulnerable to consequences beyond our control.

We don’t like getting our annual physical for lots of unpleasant reasons, but what a lift we get when the doc tells us we are in great shape (for our age). Along the same lines, how many times have you heard people say they wished they had ‘done it sooner’ following their surgery to repair their tennis elbow, replace a hip, or a knee? How long had their disruptive imaginations delayed what ultimately proved to be life-changing events? How much lifestyle was unnecessarily lost?

Every day matters – especially in financial health. Our finances impact so many areas of our lives; like our marriages, our optimism, our generosity, our involvement, our productivity, and yes our imaginations. The financially healthy are free to let their creative imaginations run wild, challenging their financial advisors to find ways to make them realities. They refuse to be weighed down by needless worries caused by the ‘need-to-dos.’ The financially free realize that just doing it uses far less energy than worrying about it.

If you want to break the chains of disruptive imagination, try this little ‘exorcise.’ Make a list of the issues that are at the core of your nagging disruptive imaginings, sapping your energy and keeping you awake at night. Then beside each one them, make the following notations:

  1. For those you can change, write the name of the person or organization you will call to start the process and the date you will do it. Put it on your calendar and DO IT.
  2. For those worries beyond your control. Give them to God, cross them off, and worry no more.

Financial freedom is not some far off dream realized in retirement. It begins the moment you turn disruptive imaginings into action steps.

Have a great imagination-redirecting weekend.