I did the unthinkable. I forgot my flash drive at a business copy center. Thankfully, there wasn’t any client or top-secret information on it, so I called to let them know I would come by the next day to pick it up.

The next morning, I walked back into the store and over to the copy and print area. I said I was here for my flash drive and to my surprise, the clerk gave me this weird look. It was a strange non-verbal gesture like, “Good luck with that.” So, my mind began to wander, “Did they lose or misplace it?” Or worse, “Did they give it to someone else?” That’s when I was handed a big box from under the counter that was overflowing with orphaned flash drives.

I was in shock at how many were in the box. There was well over a couple hundred of them. It was mind boggling to consider how much time, energy and effort had likely gone into the content and information contained on them, and they just sat there, in a graveyard of data files. 

The situation reminded me of a Les Brown quote, The graveyard is the richest place on earth, because it is here that you will find all the hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled, the books that were never written, the songs that were never sung, the inventions that were never shared, the cures that were never discovered, all because someone was too afraid to take that first step...”

It’s interesting because a wide variety of research and science supports the notion:
• 75% of people said the American Dream is in danger of extinction and only 18% believe they’re living the American dream. Another 18% said it’s completely unattainable. (Source:  CNBC)
• A study in the academic journal Social Forces has revealed that only 6% of adults ended up in the careers they dreamt about as kids.
• Only 37% of Americans believe today’s children will grow up to be better off than their parents were financially.
• According to the University of Scranton, a whopping 92% of people who set New Year's goals never actually achieve them.

These are pretty dismal numbers but important information for a couple reasons. First, I believe a growing group of financial professionals want to be more and do more within our industry, but they are hesitant, feel stuck, and just aren’t sure where to start. They want to do something different, like add a more personal touch to their services or focus on group presentations instead of one-on-one meetings. They want to write a book, blog about non-financial topics like health and wellness, or teach a course on helping people start a business in retirement.

They want something better and feel the pull to take the leap, but for some reason they can’t pull the cord. Time, money, or some other circumstance keeps getting in the way. Well the harsh reality is, there will always be something in the way and someone saying it may not be worth it. Tackling such a new challenge will come with its own ups and downs but pushing it down and beating it back will only add to the riches in the graveyard.

So, I want to encourage you to avoid keeping all your ideas in the flash drive of your heart and mind. Take a quick minute right now to write it down and give yourself 30 days to simply start working on it in some way. It can be as simple as reaching out to someone you know who is already doing it and asking them how they got started. It can also be finding a few articles, videos or podcasts on the topic. Just make it small and give yourself a deadline. It is the absolute first step in making sure your dreams don’t end up permanently on hold.

In addition to the fact that we as advisors need some encouragement to take that next step, so do our clients. They need permission to be more, do more and step outside of the box. This is especially the case when it comes to retirement because similar to a graveyard, retirement can be a place where hopes and dreams, relationships, health, and other things go to die. It can leave people with no purpose or passion, struggling to figure things out and to have a positive impact on others. It can be a heartbreaking reality if we dwell on it and don’t find creative ways to help our clients avoid that.

Recently I developed an online retirement course that is in beta testing with some folks and one of the people going through it said, “This information was very helpful because I realized for the first time I didn’t know much about retirement and I was just conforming to what everyone else was saying about it…. And that’s not the way I want to approach it and go through it.”

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