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Pharmacy to Finance: We all have a "why" - What is yours?

When I went to college, I was certain I wanted to study pharmacy. Today, I’m a financial planner. I’m often asked: “Why such a radical career shift?” It all had to do with my “why.”
Pharmacy to Finance: We all have a "why" What is yours?

As a teenager—growing up in a rural Eastern Oregon town —I watched my parents constantly help others. They took in foster kids and eventually adopted a few of my siblings. Many of these children took medications that had been prescribed for various disorders such as ADHD, personality disorders, and depression. I found myself wondering how these medications made my new adopted siblings and the foster kids feel. Sometimes they were not hungry, or they were tired, and I wanted to know more about what these pharmaceuticals were doing to their bodies. So, when I started college, I enrolled in pharmacy classes, got a job as a pharmacy technician, and learned as much as I could about prescription drugs. But, as I worked as a technician through college, I began to realize that my passion was not specifically for pharmaceuticals. Just like my parents, my passion was for helping others.

Children often get asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Their response may range from a princess to a doctor, or nowadays it may be a YouTube star. They may not realize at that young age, there is probably a reason behind their response. Maybe it is because they have a family member in one of those careers that they look up to, or maybe it is because the princess reminds them of their mother. Regardless, their “why” relates to something bigger. These answers often change as kids get older. In high school, students might realize that science is not their favorite subject or that being a doctor requires a lot more school then they could imagine. The hope is that as kids prepare for life after high school, they will start thinking about why they are choosing their career and what it really means to them.

My “why” for getting into pharmacy was not only because I was curious but also, I wanted to see how I could help others. My “why” for becoming a financial planner is similar: I get to help others. Every day I get to look at the client's entire financial picture, offer advice and help come up with recommendations.  

In a society facing increasing credit card debt, rising retirement costs and college tuition, more people need financial planning. I love being the person to help others navigate planning for their now and for their future.

Finding our why is not only about our careers. It is the most important step in constructing a good financial plan. I often ask clients what they want to do in retirement or what their goals are in life. When someone asks you what your goals are, it can be hard to come up with that right off the top of your head. So, try to think of goals in a way that is more about what you envision your life being like. If you have a goal of buying a boat, then I may ask why? What is the purpose of that goal? Maybe it is because you want to have family time together fishing on a lake, making memories. Maybe after a hectic workweek, you need time to decompress out on the water. The answer is not the same for any two people.

For example, two separate couples may want to fund their children’s education, but one couple may not want their children to work during college, while a different couple thinks that working through college is a good experience. One person may have struggled to get to where they are at so they want their children to have it easier, and some may believe that taking a student loan will teach their children responsibility. You see, we may have similar goals but they all stem from something that is within us or something that we experienced.

Hollina being interviewed at a recent finance conference

Hollina being interviewed at a recent finance conference

A financial plan is not just a one-time event. As you change and the world around you changes, it is important to continually update your financial plan. This will help guide you to the future that means the most to you and that will give you fulfillment in the life you envision.  

Just as we always ask our children, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” We need to regularly ask other important questions throughout our lives. “What do you want to do in retirement?” “What is most important to you?” “Who do you look up to?” The questions get much easier to answer when you realize the “why” behind the response. These questions are so essential to creating a customized financial plan - a plan that will give you confidence that you can live a life that stays true to your “why”.