How Playing the Long Game Could Help Build Wealth Success

 

 

 

Many extremely wealthy people have a much better handle than others on a key concept of success: the long game. The long game means having a concrete vision of your ideal future down the road—years or even decades from now—and taking specific, carefully considered action steps at every stage along the way to maximize your ability to get there. Unfortunately, we find that most people don’t effectively plot out their financial futures, or layout a clear and actionable path to follow. As a result, people often come up with scenarios that are as unrealistic as they are attractive—fantasies that stand little chance of becoming reality.

The upshot: It’s probably time to honestly assess how well you’re doing at both creating a detailed vision of your ideal longterm future and acting in ways that consistently move you toward that result. That’s true whether you’re trying to get wealthier through investing, earn a higher salary or retire on your terms. These guidelines can help you get on track!

WELL-CONCEPTUALIZED END GOALS HAVE A NUMBER OF BENEFITS, INCLUDING:

  • Keeping you highly motivated

  • Helping you concentrate your actions productively

  • Helping you focus on the processes and activities that really matter and avoid distractions

  • Helping you stay on the path as times get hard

PLOT OUT INTERMEDIATE GOALS AND PLANS

As part of your long-game path to your end goal, you will need to specify intermediate goals. These are stepping-stones on your way to the end goals. You’ll also need to delineate well-thought-out plans that will enable you to achieve the intermediate goals that push you toward your end goal. In short: Intermediate Goals + Thoughtful Plans = End Goals

Example: If you want to become seriously wealthy, you need to specify exactly what that means to you. It might be a net worth of $10 million or $20 million (or much more). This is your financial end goal.

Now, you need to determine how you are going to get there. One possibility is to establish and grow a business. A successful business then becomes an intermediate goal. There also may be other intermediate goals (such as finding and working with a high-caliber wealth manager) that will help you accomplish your financial end goal.

EXECUTE YOUR PLAN

Perhaps the biggest challenge of playing the long game well is execution. But face it: You’ve got to act on your plan or you’ll make no progress.

Set specific goals and milestones to begin the work of making your vision a reality. Choose the broad strategies you will use to reach each goal. Identify the tactics for implementing each strategy. Once these tactics are clear, decide on actions to execute each tactic. Ensure that each action is specific and achievable, and set a target date for completion.

 

The Importance of Perseverance

Perseverance is central to a good long game. As with most meaningful and large-scale endeavors, great results are unlikely to happen quickly. You need to be willing and able to stay the course for quite some time, as most successes are built on incremental achievements—that is, on attaining your intermediate goals.

Of course, life has a way of pulling us in all sorts of directions. Perseverance becomes much easier and more productive when you keep your end goals, your intermediate goals and the plans to get there top of mind. Doing so can help you avoid being overwhelmed by immediate circumstances.

 

Remain Flexible

The advice that you should stay on track and persevere through challenges comes with one big caveat: You can’t be rigidly locked into a plan. Flexibility is vital as you navigate inevitable changes in your life and the world at large that impact your vision, your goals and your course of action. But to constructively adapt, you need clear goals and the processes to achieve those goals. Without them, you risk overreacting to challenges and veering too far off your desired course.

 

A Road and a Road Map

In the end, long-game planning builds a bridge that links where you are today to where you want to be down the road. To get the most out of your efforts, remember a few key tenets of success—start with the end in mind, develop intermediate goals that propel you forward and execute with focus. With these ideas and your self-created road map to guide you, you can put yourself on the road to an ideal future.

Elite Wealth Planning What It is and Why It Matters

 

 

Elite wealth planning often plays a key role in the lives of today’s highly successful individuals and families—as well as those who are on the path toward great financial success.

With that in mind, here’s a closer look at just what elite wealth planning is—how it works and how it can potentially have a powerful impact on your life as you seek to build, preserve and protect your wealth.

THE KEY ELEMENTS OF ELITE WEALTH PLANNING

Before we can see what makes elite wealth planning so special, it’s important to understand the various planning strategies that make up the core of most elite wealth planning efforts.

Typically, elite wealth planning consists of seven main types of planning:

 

1. Income tax planning focuses on mitigating taxes on money earned by working—potentially enabling you to keep more of the money you make.

2. Estate planning  involves using legal strategies and financial products to determine the future disposition of current and projected assets. Critically, it is important to determine who will own the assets and how they will be owned.

3. Marital (and related relations) planning entails planning for disruptions in the relationships between spouses and other partners. The intent is to take actions that will protect your family’s wealth.

4. Asset protection planning entails employing legally accepted and transparent concepts, strategies and financial products that are designed to help ensure your wealth is not unjustly taken.

5. Charitable tax planning addresses ways to be philanthropic in the most tax-efficient manner. The tax code fosters philanthropy, and charitable planning can help maximize the impact of your giving.

6. Business succession planning principally deals with helping entrepreneurs tax-efficiently transition their businesses to others, whether they are family members or not.

7. Life management planning addresses an array of concerns from a wealth management perspective—for example, structuring wealth to deal with longevity- and health-related concerns and actions.

In practice, there can be great overlap between these areas of planning, as well as opportunities for them to work together to accomplish more than they could alone. Some examples:

By placing assets into an irrevocable trust for the primary purpose of transferring them to heirs—an estate planning strategy—elite wealth planning might pinpoint related strategies for protecting your assets.

Business succession planning can be entwined with estate planning and potentially other planning specialties to support your goals in multiple areas.

Clearly, elite wealth planning is designed to help address your needs, wants and preferences across a full spectrum of planning specialties—potentially enabling you to optimally structure all the areas of your financial life.

These various types of wealth planning are not new, nor are they in any way restricted to the very wealthiest among us. Lots of people can seek help with their charitable giving, marital planning or income tax planning.

Additionally, the level of technical expertise possessed by a professional wealth manager offering wealth planning isn’t a major differentiator. Wealth managers who are “just” technically adept and elite wealth planners both can be considered state-of-the-art in terms of their expertise (see the table below). All technically skilled wealth planners should be able to deliver essentially the same menu of solutions to their clients.

COMPARING: WEALTH PLANNERS AND
ELITE WEALTH PLANNERS

But there is one key characteristic that tends to make elite wealth management so—well, elite: the focus of the particular wealth manager.

Specifically, elite wealth planners focus intently on the human element of the wealth planning process—understanding their clients on deep, personal levels that go beyond the numbers that appear on their tax returns or balance sheets.

In contrast, technically adept wealth planners are generally more focused on the legal strategies and financial products such planners can offer. This doesn’t mean that technically adept wealth planners are not concerned with interpersonal relationships with their clients and the psychology of the affluent. But from an objective standpoint, interpersonal relationships with clients are of much less concern to technically adept wealth planners than they are to elite wealth planners.

While elite wealth planning can include some highly sophisticated thinking and solutions, we strongly believe the human element is much more important. In elite wealth planning, the client—be it an individual, a business owner or a family—takes center stage in all discussions and decisions. The elite wealth planner’s technical capabilities and solutions exist only to serve the client and provide what he or she wants most as a person.

That’s why we define elite wealth management this way:

"Elite wealth planning is a comprehensive planning process that incorporates state-of-the-art technical expertise in legal strategies and financial products with the human element."

Unfortunately, the human dynamic is often overshadowed by legal and financial expertise. To get truly meaningful results, a wealth planner must be acutely attuned to both the rational side and the emotional side of a person—the logical and the illogical. It’s this awareness of and sensitivity and responsiveness to the human element that we firmly believe makes wealth planning elite.

Bonus: The comprehensive process at the core of elite wealth planning enables both the wealth planner and the client to reveal more about themselves (including the way they like to work, their aspirations and even their limitations). Along the way, elite wealth planning creates a level of security and comfort that is the foundation of a rewarding relationship.

It’s Time to Get Serious About your Happiness

 

 

 

There’s a great quote by Jean-Paul Sartre: “We are our choices.” When it comes to our happiness and our overall success in life, that’s truer than you might have realized.

Taking time to examine the choices you make in your life and work each day and over the long term to make sure they are enhancing your well-being can do more than just make you happier. Working on enhancing happiness has actually been shown to have a tangible return on investment and can make you more successful.

Here’s one example from the business world. According to positive psychology researcher Shawn Achor, if you are happy and you have happy people around you in your organization, you can improve your organization’s performance and productivity by anywhere from 10 percent to 30 percent. And if your team is happier, you will take better care of your clients and have greater impact on them—which in turn will enable your team to do well financially.

With that in mind, here are steps for increasing your happiness in ways that will lead to better results in your work and in your life. These come courtesy of Henry Miller—a truly exceptional trainer, coach and consultant who helps companies and organizations improve their performance and productivity. He spent years analyzing the growing research on well-being and synthesizing it into his book The Serious Pursuit of Happiness—an essential road map to greater happiness.

UNDERSTAND THE BASICS

Some people think they are predisposed to be happy or unhappy and that’s just how it goes. Not so. You can take steps to enhance your happiness and that of the people around you. Research using data from the Minnesota Twin Registry shows that around 50 percent of our level of happiness depends on our deliberate thoughts, attitudes and actions—great news for those of you who assumed your level of happiness is hard-wired.

 

To improve the drivers of happiness that are within our control, start with some basic ideas to guide you:

 

  • Happiness takes effort. Creating and enhancing happiness in your life, your family and your workplace is just like any other major initiative you undertake—it requires time and effort to get up and running smoothly.

  • Happiness is a numbers game. The frequency of positive events in your life matters more than the intensity of those events. You’ll have better results if you boost the number of small positive moments in your day instead of trying to have just a few instances that are hugely positive.

  • Happiness is a habit. Make happiness habitual—if you are not as naturally happy as other people, incorporate happy habits into your life while removing other habits.

  • Do more for other people. When you spend time doing things for other people and trying to make them happy, you actually end up happier than when you do things to please just yourself.

PROVEN PATHS TO HAPPINESS

Research has shown that basing your decisions on several imperatives will increase your happiness.

  1. Seek pleasure within limits. Real, lasting happiness doesn’t come by chasing lots of short-term pleasures. Happiness is not hedonism or doing your best to avoid all pain. The “high” from short-term pleasures doesn’t tend to stick with us very long, and if you keep doing nothing but those activities, the moments when you do feel down tend to overwhelm you.

  2. Intentionally think happy. Avoid excessive self-focused rumination on the minutiae of your life. Focus on building resilience and taking control. A feeling of well-being arises when you do these things. There’s a quote often attributed to William James, the father of psychology: “The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their moods by altering their states of mind.”

  3. Intentionally act happy. Expressing gratitude for the good things you have shuts down feelings of envy and jealousy that block your path to more happiness. If you buy yourself a “gratitude journal” and write in it every Sunday night, you can increase your happiness by 25 percent, and the positive effects can last for six months. Other happiness-building actions to work on include forgiving people who have wronged you, staying fit through exercise and diet, and getting enough sleep.

  4. Cultivate positive personality traits. Honesty, courage, perseverance, tolerance, generosity—all are universally seen as good character traits. Consider the best possible future for yourself as a person at home, at work and at play. Imagine yourself in a future where everything has gone as well as it could go. What might your best possible self and best possible future look like?

  5. Embrace deep connections. Close relationships are vital—Facebook friends and watercooler buddies aren’t enough.

PLAN AND ACT

Ultimately you need to act to achieve results. Here are three proven happiness-enhancing action steps you can start doing immediately.

  1. Savor the future. Write a description of what your life will ideally look like five years from today. Your vision of your ideal future will actually act like a beacon, drawing you to it. Also notice how you feel when you envision a great future. This is how you savor the future, and in doing so you will elevate your positivity.

  2. Express gratitude for your past. Think of someone who has positively impacted your life and whom you have never properly thanked. Write down what they did for you and all the ways you are thankful to them for what they have meant to you over the years. The mere act of writing this type of letter has been shown to boost levels of happiness.

  3. Demonstrate love. If you can, go out right now and get a flower or card for someone you love and give it to them, saying, “Just because I was thinking about you and what you mean to me.” You can also simply call someone you love—your spouse, a best friend—and tell them how happy you are that they’re in your life. Try to do more of these types of acts every week or month, and cut down on other activities to do so if necessary. Remember that habits and frequency of actions play big roles in elevating happiness.