What If?

The question ‘what-if?’ can be a source of nagging worry, or it can be a proactive tool for improving preparedness and confidence. How we choose to address the question has huge impact on our lifestyle.

If we allow ourselves to worry about something, it is said we spend our energy twice; first by worrying today and later when, or if, the thing we worry about actually happens. Corrie ten Boom describes the futility this way; “worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” Our beloved Mark Twain recognizes how often we do it, “I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them have never happened.”  And Dan Zadra describes its creative waste, “Worry is a misuse of the imagination.”

There is remarkable power in bringing worry out into the open and framing it as a ‘what if’ in the context of our life’s circumstances and plans. We are tempted to and indeed find ourselves spending considerable time in the what ifs of presidential politics, world events, and economics. While these events may and likely will change our lives, their impact pales in comparison to say, the loss of earnings during our accumulation years, ruinous healthcare expenses, prolonged market declines, social security shortfalls, and so on.

As humans we invariably worry. But what if we nab that early nagging thought as the warning it actually is from our intuitive mind to our rational mind? At the outset, our rational mind is presented with a choice of processes; to act or to worry. As Dan Zadra encourages us, why not positively and proactively employ our imaginations toward finding solutions that address specific what ifs relative to our life’s plan?

We have all kinds of nagging concerns swimming around in our heads at any given moment and they are by no means all bad. What about concerns like sacrificing today by spending all of our time working and saving for a distant, uncertain future? Or what if the question is framed from the perspective of opportunity? For instance, we find that our plan is substantially over-funded to accomplish all of our wants and needs – do we have sufficient funds to start a scholarship fund, a family trust, or start a family trust that might enable worthy endeavors for generations, or build or add on to a facility for your favorite ministry?

Whether problems or opportunities, the mental action steps that follow the initial idea, while the imagination is still very active are what ifs. When addressed in the context of a life plan, the what if process can have a dramatically positive impact on lifestyle by reducing worry, improving confidence, and most of all, moving us closer to the optimal outcomes we hope for.

As we work toward our roll-out of Beacon 3.0 – making planning fun, engaging, and indispensable – we are having great results with our early-adopters of our online planning portal as they interact with their actual plan real-time, any time and anywhere they please. Hard as we try to make our office environment and the conversation we have around the table conducive to goal-setting, there’s still no place like home, or the park, or the beach, to free our clients’ imaginations to have their way with their life plans.

Our new planning tool allows clients to move sliders to increase or reduce goals while adjusting the means of accomplishing them confidently according to their own priorities. We find folks often have trouble verbalizing some of their goals as well as the finer points of how they hope to accomplish them. Interacting with sliders and seeing the impact immediately allows them to more naturally and intuitively work out many what ifs themselves, ultimately making their plans more reflective of themselves.

We believe what ifs are vital to the planning process and we believe that allowing clients to pursue them in their own comfortable space and time results in far better plans. We play a vital role in building an initial plan that includes the essentials as well as our clients’ wants and wishes as we best understand them and we help keep it real and robust. But no matter how good we think it fits, allowing our clients to ‘wear it’ to stretch, bend, and shape it, more quickly improves the fit. The planning process is no longer something that happens around a table in our office quarterly or less frequently. Our clients can now go online to interact with their plan anytime the urge or imagination strikes. The portal creates a much more vital and active collaboration by providing allowing them to work out what ifs, before they turn into worry.

If you would like to experience the power of real-time what-iffing in the context of your own life’s plan, please give us a call.

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