This is the first in a series on the philosophical principles that an advisor must confront to make the transition from an ROI to an ROL (Return on Life) advisor. The ROL advisor understands that his or her higher purpose is to help clients "get the most life they can with the money they have." The ROL vocation is the raison d'etre for the ROI vocation. ROI is how we invest--ROL is the reason. In this series I am going to explore the philosophical framework that will help advisors harvest the greatest amount of significance for their clients--or put another way, construct a bridge between means and meaning.

A lost traveler stopped to ask a farmer for directions. The farmer said, "I know where it is but if I were you I wouldn't try to get there from here."
The traveler responds in one of three ways: "I just want to get there."  "If I ever get the right amount of money, I'll be there." "Once I get there, I'll need to have enough to stay there."

Sound familiar? Statements like these often are part of our conversations with clients regarding retirement. The goal is to determine how much the client needs to save or where he will live when he retires.

The core assumption to all of these conversations is that there is a there there, but is there?

Let's sit back a moment and ask ourselves what there and where there is...

There is a destination-a summit from which an individual looks down upon the world and the path that led him there. "Where do I go from there? I've made it to the top. I've reached my goals. I have enough. What do I do now?"

We all have a choice at this point. We can play king of the mountain and spend all our life energy warding off would-be climbers, or we can move on with the realization that there is a myth: a weigh station, pit-stop or rest area where we gather our thoughts, take some instruction from the journey, unfold the map, and wonder about where tomorrow will bring us. There is anything but a permanent destination. If we choose to make it permanent, we will begin playing defense in life--and the decline from living to survival will begin.

"What is your number?"

"Where do you see yourselves in 10, 20 years?"

"What is your goal?"