What do you want? Few can answer this affirmatively. Many are clear what they do not want. They cannot however articulate what they want.

Why is this question challenging? It might be greed. We want a lot of things but unfortunately our resources are limited. It might be the lack of imagination. We only know what we know and do not realize other possibilities. It might be the lack of self-awareness or even self-security. Few tire of personality tests, no matter how unscientific – pleased to be validated, even hoping to be surprised.

The goal-based journey frivolously installed in too many self-directed financial planning assumes we know what we want. When would you like to retire? When you retire, do you imagine spending more or less than today? Frankly, many of us do not even know what we will be doing the next year, let alone imagine the retirement years.

It’s not all despair. It’s about asking the right questions in the right sequence. Financial planning is not done for the sake of it. Financial planning is the means to attaining the life that we are at ease with. Life is in harmonious balance only if we manage the expressions of our internal values consciously. For example, the person who spends beyond his means may turn out to thrive on others’ acceptance. Financial planning for him should be based on managing the need for acceptance. Enforcing disciplined savings would backfire. Asking how much he wants to spend during retirement years would truly end in despair.

So, dear self-directed journeys, do not ask what I want. Ask what motivates me. Take the time and effort to know me.

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