Today's advisors are not only charged with managing a client's life savings, they're also being asked to provide insight on how clients can best manage their final career years -- most notably, whether or not they should keep doing what they've been doing or take a leap of faith and start pursuing a dream or passion. No matter what you've read or heard, helping clients find or rekindle a passion that either helps them semi-retire, or puts them in a position to give back as well as add purpose to everyday life is one of the single biggest trend hitting our industry.
Last year I chatted extensively with a 50-something who expects to be laid off in 2012. He shared his quandary about returning to school or starting a business, one representing a passion for learning, the other a longstanding dream. Similarly, a recently divorced baby boomer was contemplating whether she should re-enter the nursing field or follow her desire to become an interior designer. Another client who, prior to retirement, never uttered a word about politics has become so engrossed in government that he's involving himself in local campaigns and is actually kicking around the idea of running for elected office.
This growing trend is easy to understand since living a passionate life is the ultimate personal and financial achievement that most people desire, simply because it provides purpose and direction to everything a person thinks, says, and does. It can give your clients a reason to wake up smiling in the morning and something to be thankful for every night.
Helping clients find their passion in life isn't as difficult as you may think. I personally stumbled upon a formula at a conference several years ago. An advisor, whom I'd never met, approached me and leaned in to ask, "Are you passionate about your work?" Feeling challenged, I replied, "Yes, of course I am." He followed up with, "How do you know that?" I guess I wasn't as prepared as I thought, and at the time probably didn't come across as "passionate," despite the fact that in many ways I was.
Following my less than stellar comments, this advisor said something I remember to this day. He said, "You know you're passionate about your work -- that you have found your purpose in life -- when you can say that your pursuit of it is timeless, tireless and causes contagious energy." For me, that was a wow moment! Imagine, three simple adjectives that changed my life forever and added new energy and excitement to my professional path.
This gave me a formula that I could not only apply to my life and career but also use to help others find their passion.
Path To Passion:
1) What feels timeless when you do it?
2) What can you relentlessly pursue without ever growing tired of it?
3) What is a constant source of energy in both your words and actions?
When the amount of time spent pursuing something is irrelevant, it becomes timeless. When you never grow tired and continue to nurture the pursuit, it becomes tireless. When the pursuit itself actually creates the energy it takes to make it timeless and tireless, you've found your passion in life.
Finding your passion in life makes you a member of a truly exclusive club, light years ahead of how others move through existence. There are, however, several critical aspects to the search for passion you should discuss with clients. The fact is, finding one's passion and living a purpose-driven life is not free, and throughout this transition, clients will require strategies to stay motivated (and passionate) which can include support from you, their trusted advisor.
There's an economic principle referred to as TINSTAAFL which means There Is No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. For me, that acronym is an easy way to remember that nothing in life is free, and that anything worth having comes at a cost. Finding and living a passionate life is no different; it takes time, requires discipline, demands commitment, and won't come without practice. Whether your client's passion is starting a business, lending a helping hand at a local non-profit, or teaching a skill or trade to future generations, it's important to help them understand they still have to give something to live it.
This point is important because, whatever your clients decide to pursue, it won't necessarily be simple or easy. That makes it crucial for you to have both conversations and resources ready to help them understand the steps they'll have to take on this journey once the initial enthusiasm and excitement subside. The nice thing about our role as advisors is that we have resources. Outside of your traditional COIs, I suggest you establish a relationship with an experienced commercial lender, volunteer business organization such as S.C.O.R.E., and maintain web and marketing contacts that can help them estimate both potential profits and more importantly, ongoing costs.
Establishing a passion as part of a semi-retirement plan or as a means of giving back may not be free, but the tradeoff for devoting time, energy and resources often results in a substantial net gain. Interestingly, I find that passionate people are more appreciative of the things they did to get them where they are instead of the actual trappings of their success. They know most people will never be willing to make the same sacrifices they made; and that's the beauty of being among the select few who made the effort and paid the price to find and live a passionate life.