Last week I shared with you why it is so important to help empower the women in our lives to reach financial independence. But in case you missed it, you can read the entire article here.I urge everyone to read this post and share it with the women in your life. Once you understand what financial independence means, why it is vital for women and the unique barriers that women face in gaining financial independence, it's time to learn the 6 steps that women can take to become empowered.
Each week I will introduce a new step explaining how women of ANY age can be empowered through financial independence so check back often for updates. This week I start with
Step #1: DECIDING WHAT YOU WANT
A key part of financial independence is being able to make your own decisions regarding your money. But what decisions are those, exactly?
To answer that, ask yourself these questions:
What do I most want to accomplish? Experience? See? Learn? What do I need in order to feel fulfilled?
What do I value most in my life? What do I want to protect?
What can I least afford to lose? What am I most afraid of losing?
What needs to happen for me to have peace of mind?
The answers to these questions determine what decisions you need to make. Think of it like taking a road-trip. Before you go anywhere, you first need to decide on a destination. That destination will in turn determine what roads to take, what supplies you’ll need, and how long it will take to get there. So in essence, the first step to financial independence is choosing your own life’s destination.
Choosing a destination can be a surprisingly daunting task. But it can also be a very enjoyable one! Take, for example, the story of John Goddard.
If you’ve ever read the book Chicken Soup for the Soul, you might be familiar with Goddard’s name. (His story was included in the book.) But in case you don’t know who he is, prepare to be amazed. He was the first man in history to explore the entire length of the Nile. Still thirsty for more, he also was the first man to ever explore the length of the Congo. He’s climbed the Matterhorn, lived among native tribes in Brazil, Borneo, and New Guinea (among others), and somehow found the time to learn how to fence, fly a jet, and play the violin.
How did he manage to do all these things?
It all started like this. One rainy afternoon, when he was 15 years old, he sat down at his kitchen table and wrote three words:
“My Life List”
His list consisted of 127 goals: Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, Fuji, and Vesuvius. Visit every country in the world. (He made it to all but 30.) Photograph Victoria Falls in Rhodesia (where he was chased by a warthog). Dive underwater to explore the Great Barrier Reef. Visit everywhere from the Great Wall of China to the Taj Mahal, and 119 other goals in between.
Goddard died in 2013 at the age of 88, but not before completing 111 of the goals on his amazing list. You can see the entire list, and which goals he achieved, by visiting his website at www.johngoddard.info/life_list.htm. Or, just Google his name.
It goes without saying that Goddard is inspiring, but I think he’s a great example as well. While not all of us may “study native medicines,” like he did, or even want to, we all can sit down and decide what we really want in life. This is especially important when planning for retirement. With a little imagination and a little planning, retirement can be whatever you want it to be.
There are two things about Goddard that I think contributed to his success:
- He wrote down his goals and kept that list with him. His original list still exists today.
Writing down your goals is important. If it’s just in your head, it’s a fantasy. But if it exists on paper, it’s a plan. You can always have it with you to look at, so at any given moment you can study your list and decide if what you’re doing is really what you want … or if you’re giving up what you want the most for what you only want right now.
- Once he wrote his list, he stuck to it.
Often when we set a goal for ourselves, we change it too soon. Maybe that’s because we too often choose goals we think we should achieve, rather than ones we actually care about. Goddard wrote down goals that actually meant something to him. Maybe some were small, or even a bit eccentric (“light a match with a .22 rifle”), but he wrote them down because he wanted them. Not because he needed them. That way, achieving his goals was never work.
By determining what it is you want, and by answering the four questions listed above, you can choose your destination and begin the journey toward financial independence.
Join me next week for Step #2: Taking Control of Your Cash Flow