A Money Coach in Canada

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A couple weeks ago I said the first step in achieving your hopes and dreams is to write them out. I later said that actually, the first steps should be to begin with the end in mind (which should bring clarity to your priorities) and also to ensure you set your goals into a broader financial context.

Here are 5 further sure-fire ways to achieve your hopes and dreams:

1. Make it tangible. In other words, move it from a general hope (I’d love to be a homeowner) to a concrete goal (I want a 2-bedroom home in Neighbourhood ABC by the time I reach 35 years of age.)

2. Start saving for it regularly, right now. If you’re not willing to start saving regularly, it’s not a goal you’re going to reach anytime soon. If it’s a hope and dream, but you really feel you cannot afford to save even $10/paycheque (if it came down to it) then it may be time to find a way to increase your income or do some serious analysis of how you are currently allocating your income.

3. Hang around other people with goals. There are plenty of people who set and achieve goals. They are usually inspiring and quick to encourage others along the way. Find them. Spend time with them. Let their energy push you along.

4. Create a series of “next actions”. Your dream, whatever it is, will likely have a whole set of constituent parts. Create a list of all the discreet “next actions” that will be required. For Example:
To purchase a home I’ll need a down payment.
Next Action: Start a savings account. next action: find my bank phone number next action: book time into my calendar to call
Next Action: Ask my employer to deposit 3% of my paycheque to the Savings Account instead of my chequing account. next action: print and fill out the form next action: take the form to my employer

5. Create and celebrate milestones. Make one milestone something you can accomplish in the next 24 hours, then another milestone something you can accomplish within a month, and from then on make sure you have milestones at least once a quarter. Find some way of celebrating each accomplishment. It could be, at minimum, updating some sort of thermometer, or it could be a romantic evening with your partner or it could be attending an inspirational talk to simultaneously celebrate and re-energize you to keep going. But mark and celebrate your accomplishments.

Have you absorbed the beautiful Mythology about pursuing your hopes and dreams, or passion, with everything you’ve got? Rags to riches is a great storyline, isn’t it. It’s inspiring. It creates a sense of confidence that anyone, in any circumstances, can achieve great things if only they put their mind to it and believe in themselves and work hard enough. How could that not be attractive?

I lived into it when I started my business. I had the opportunity to continue part-time with the job I had. But I chose instead to be “all in” with Your Money by Design. I was smart, I had a well-written business plan with conservative estimates, and a certain amount of savings in the bank. I was determined to give my business 110%. No half measures for me.

Eight months into it, the penny dropped: I wasn’t getting nearly the numbers in my seminars I’d anticipated. And I wasn’t the only game in town after all. And everything they say about expenses always being higher than you anticipate had proven true. And hardly anybody could figure out just what was a money-coach anyways (oh, you sell mutual funds? No! I don’t!)

Anyone ever eaten at Hamburger Mary’s in Vancouver? That’s where it all sank in for me. It all sank in as if the air turned black, and my stomach clenched up such that I couldn’t even look at my plate of food when it arrived. My then-boyfriend kindly excused me for a moment – so he thought – and as fast as I could I found a quiet set of steps on an apartment building around the block and there I began to sob and sob and sob. I not only felt the pain of disillusionment but the weight of failure.

And you know what really sucked (to use blunt language)? I was as passionate as *any* entrepreneur and would likely have been one of those people who live without electricity or even in the back of their car (well, maybe not quite) and ultimately become super-successful and get to tell their passion-driven story. But being a money coach … well, you can see why that wasn’t an option.

Nevertheless I carried on valiantly for another 1.5 years (didn’t want to quit just one day before I’d finally make it big, right?) before succumbing and taking part-time work to ensure I could practice at least a baseline of what I preached about managing money effectively. And for a further 3 years I made an acceptable go of it. My electricity stayed on, my mortgage payments were made, my dogs and I were fed. But. I didn’t take a holiday, not a real one, ever and I denied and denied myself so much over the months and months that my energy and enthusiasm, those spades and spades and spades of it, ultimately got sucked away.

There is nothing newsworthy, nothing exciting, nothing thrilling about that story at all. And the final failure was utterly banal: I’d set one “STOP AND SERIOUSLY REASSESS NOW” boundary at ever having to touch my RRSPs. And it happened. I got tripped up on something unforeseen and had to withdraw from my RRSPs. So I stopped in my tracks right then and there. What a boring end-of-the-road, eh?

I reassessed. I concluded I needed to rest for a while and hold my dreams less tightly. I decided for this reason along with a cluster of other rather awful events (which *would* make an interesting story) to move north for a v. good-paying job with full benefits (sick days! extraordinary!) and paid holidays and a pension. I can tell you, it has been a respite. A real respite.

And after two full years of respite, I’m replenished and ready to go again, but this time in and from a different place. I am pursuing my hopes and dreams (ie. creating a rockin’ social-entrepreneurial business that helps people and helps the planet) with the same deep passion …and with significant and ongoing financial stability and security around me. From that firm ground, and rooted there, I am able to re-venture. Is that sexy? Dramatic? The stuff of legend? No. But I honestly think there’s a much higher probability of attaining my personal hopes and dreams from this place.

So. You and *your* hopes and dreams. I’m not about to say don’t go for (ha ha) broke. We all have our journeys to make. And I understand too (do I ever) that entrepreneurialism in particular has exceptional risk and uncertainty. But … I strongly encourage anyone pursuing their hopes and dreams to anchor that pursuit as deeply as possible in a broader financial context. And give yourself permission to follow the road less travelled in your pursuit, even if it sometimes looks remarkably ordinary compared to rags to riches!

Photo Credit: Ann Douglas Her website is here.

I do believe I screwed up last Saturday when I said the first step in achieving your hopes and dreams is to write them down.

I think there are actually two steps prior to writing anything.

The first, in polite Steven Covey terms, is to begin with the end in mind.

In other words: Consider Your Death. You are going to die. Obviously so am I.

Forgive me for being so blunt in April of all times; death has been on my mind. A man of great influence on me personally died last week. I listened to this interview of Nuala O’faolain, a famous Irish author in which she talks frankly and weepingly of her impending death. And most directly relevant, I watched “Really achieving your childhood dreams” a video by a Carnegie Mellon professor who knew this would be his last ever lecture.

It’s worth taking time to think about it, at least a little, before landing on and pursuing our hopes and dreams: When we are on our death-beds, will they seem trivial, or worth the days we had? Will they be lasting and of some kind of substance, or the equivalent of soap bubbles?

Before we put a money towards our dreams, it’s worth being convinced of their death-bed value.

If you have a moment, listen to my personal story with money. You can watch the vid either on the sidebar of my blog or here. Watch for my goals, about 1.40 minutes into the video.

What I didn’t mention is that I wrote those goals down one Sunday afternoon after listening with a Tony Robins tape (ha! it was a cassette which tells you how long ago that was) with a roomate.

I am convinced that the very first step in moving a hope or dream out of our heads and into the real world is to write it down. Something about the act of writing a goal seems to trigger its fruition. There’s a reason its a timeless and classic method for achieving what you want.

Here’s my money-coach’s simple twist. Include the price-tag when writing the goal. It doesn’t have to be exact, but include a reasonable approximation.

A couple personal Examples:

  • My dream is to go to NYC every couple years on holiday:  $2,000 / trip
  • I want to own several properties when I retire, including one in Detroit.   Down payment for Detroit:  $10K
  • I would love to slim down again over the summer by doing the c25K program. I’ll need some good new runners: $120

If you like, write your goals in my comments section – I’d love to hear! And maybe we can even encourage each other along the way.

If you’re more private than that, write your goals wherever you like, but do write them and include an approximate pricetag.

In either case, pop back here on Wednesdays and weekends during April for more simple but effective tips on translating your hopes and dreams into reality.

Photo Credit: DFBiz

I have a confession to make. For several months (and by that I mean 24+) I’d stopped hoping and dreaming. Having had a couple shattering experiences, I think life just got the best of me for a bit. Life got reduced to making tough decisions, putting one foot in front of the other and then a series of accomplishments. Not particularly joyous accomplishments mind, just, getting stuff done. Making a move up north. Navigating my way through an unexpectedly tumultuous employment experience (I’ll have had 7 managers in 26 months! – and only twice because of a change I made!). Adjusting to life in general in a very different environment. It has not been easy.

And in the mix, I’d stopped hoping or visioning or setting goals and making plans – activities that have characterized me for most of my life. My core values, my respect and appreciation of life and my compassion for this global village of ours remained intact but a lot about life became: Meh.

What about you? Do you aspire? Do you reach and strive for your desires? Do you know what you desire?

If money – and managing it well- is about creating security for ourselves (inasmuch as is possible) and about doing right by the planet and people by donating or thoughtful consumption, surely it is also about giving expression to our inner longings and cherished dreams.

In January I stepped outside my comfort zone and joined Jamie in her DreamBoard teleseminar. For three full hours I gave myself over to re-exploring what makes life lovely for me. It was water on dry ground and I need much more.

But friends, I moved forward on my discovery. I re-jigged some of my finances, I re-prioritized, and by next week this time I should be able to show you one result.

So my invitation to you is this: in this month of April, join me in letting the genie out of the bottle. Join me in dreaming and hoping and planning on good things for ourselves, and in managing our money effectively in part to that end. Wednesday and Weekend posts will give tips, ideas and with any luck a measure of inspiration to do just that.

“The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you; Don’t go back to sleep. You must ask for what you really want; Don’t go back to sleep. People are going back and forth across the doorsill where the two worlds touch. The door is round and open. Don’t go back to sleep.” -rumi

Photo Credit: Our Enchanted Garden