When talking about time management, Randi Zuckerberg famously said, “Maintaining friendships. Building a great company. Spending time w/family. Staying fit. Getting sleep. Pick 3.”
She was referring to the entrepreneur’s dilemma, but I think prioritization and time management are things that also help you do better and get more from your money. Once you know what is most important to you, then you can arrange your plans and decisions around the things that matter most. I call this your Chief Initiative, and it is basically a values and goals statement – think of it as true North for your finances.
Chief Initiative case
In my financial planning practice, I was meeting with a couple who seemed to be not only on different pages about their finances, but in entirely different books. The husband had very different life goals from his wife’s. He wanted to borrow money to start a business, change houses, change jobs, etc. She, on the other hand, was nervous about so much change and financial instability. So I asked them both to identify their biggest life value — their Chief Initiative. Interestingly, for both of them, their biggest value was family. Eureka! Common ground.
Knowing their Chief Initiative helped them focus every financial decision on that value. It narrowed the focus for making decisions from a place where everything was possible to a place where it was easy to see whether a decision was in line with their values or not. For example, borrowing money and starting a new business meant more financial instability for the family, as well as time away from family, and possibly uprooting the kids from their home and friends. When put in that light, it was obviously a no-go. It was also easy for the husband to see that he should take a job he’d been offered that would allow him to work from home and still pick up the kids from school and be heavily involved in the family.
It was only one word — family — but the effect it had on their ability to come together and make tough decisions was incredibly powerful.Once you know what is most important to you, then you can arrange your plans and decisions around the things that matter most. I call this your Chief Initiative. Click To Tweet
How to decide on your Chief Initiative
You may already know what your Chief Initiative should be. For many people, it’s a gut feeling that they can’t deny. They already know what their strongest values are: family, charity, health, relationships, community, stability, prosperity, etc. But for some, there won’t be a single value that comes to mind right away. Maybe you’ll have a bunch that you have trouble choosing between, or maybe you haven’t got any. Either way, these questions can help guide you to choosing one that you want to focus on:
- What’s causing you stress in your life? It’s likely that you’re feeling stressed by something because it’s going against a core value.
- What is most important to you in your life? I’m talking about the thing that you would do or want or believe no matter what. If money were no object and no obstacle, what would you focus on?
- How do you want to feel? Danielle LaPorte is on to something when she talks about her Core Desired Feelings idea, and it can be used to describe your values as well. Maybe you want to feel free, responsible, honest, spiritual, or abundant. That feeling can guide your decisions.
Once you’ve chosen your Chief Initiative, you can validate it a bit more by asking yourself, “What does [your value] mean to you?” The most amazing thing about this process is that there is no right or wrong answer. You value what you value — period.
Using your Chief Initiative for decisions
No matter what financial decisions you’re facing, you can hold it up to a single question:
Does this support my Chief Initiative or not?
It narrows things down to a very focused, single question that is easier to answer. If your value is security, and you’re looking at whether or not you should quit your job before you have another one lined up, the answer is likely no. Quitting your job wouldn’t support your Chief Initiative of security. On the other hand, if your Chief Initiative is freedom, then quitting a bad job — whether you have a new one lined up or not — probably would support your Chief Initiative.
If you feel like identifying your Chief Initiative and getting some support in implementing it is something you need, I would encourage you to check out the free Chief Initiative ebook – you can download it here.