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Seven Habits and Planning

I frequently hear voices in my head. No, I’m not crazy! These are the good voices from mentors, advice, and trainings I’ve had over the years that have helped me be the best I can be every day. What are these voices saying? Things like: “be proactive,” “begin with the end in mind,” “seek first to understand, then to be understood,” and “think win-win” are regulars. If some of these sound familiar to you, then you likely either read or were trained at some point in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.
7 habits and planning

I have been a believer in The Seven Habits since taking the course very early in my career. Obviously I am not alone since the book, written by the late Dr. Steven Covey, has sold more than 25 million copies worldwide. It remains one of the bestselling non-fiction books in history.

The habits Covey advocated help people attain goals by finding their “true north” and then developing a plan to get there. The Seven Habits has helped millions of people gain control of their personal lives and careers, in addition to achieving that balance so many of us covet.

This quote from Dr. Covey sums up his advice,

“To begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination. It means to know where you are going so that you better understand where you are now and so that the steps you take are always in the right direction.”

Similar to Covey’s Seven Habits, feeling empowered is the most important feeling people should have after partnering with Baker Boyer on their financial planning. We all want to feel in control of our lives and put ourselves in the best position for achieving our unique goals. Seeking first to understand, then be understood is the key to making that happen. 

Here are the Seven Habits and how they relate to financial planning:

1) Be Proactive. To act with intent instead of being reactive or sitting back and waiting. The best way to achieve anything is to have a plan and then act on it, whether that’s a short-term project or your life’s work.

2) Begin with the End in Mind. To envision or dream about what you want in the future so that you can work and plan towards it. You don’t want to climb the ladder of life only to find it’s been leaning against the wrong wall. And life and goals change, so flexibility is important to any plan.

3) Put First Things First. Identify the things in your life that you can control and prioritize them based on their importance to accomplishing your goals. Accomplishing the most important and urgent things first is the key to making any complicated processes manageable.

4) Think Win-Win. Engaging in mutually beneficial partnerships is the key to long-term success in life and in planning.

5) Seek First to Understand, then to be Understood. Listening empathetically for complete understanding is the most important first step to developing custom solutions.

6) Synergize. Any goal worth accomplishing requires teamwork and collaboration from experts in the subject. The best and the brightest among us rarely go at it alone.

7) Sharpen the Saw. Life-long learning and skill development creates a sustainable and effective lifestyle. The task of increasing our effectiveness is never finished. Developing those skills that further our plans is guaranteed to help. 

At Baker Boyer, we have learned a few things as we apply Covey’s principles to our financial planning and management process:

  • As with most things, getting started is often the hardest part.
  • Spouses initially think they are on the same page, but realize they sometimes are not.
  • Many families and people face similar challenges. Often the most challenging situations involve relationships more so than money.
  • Having a plan in place makes staying the course when markets correct much easier.
  • People often have similar goals, but their unique financial situations and family dynamics create the need for a customized plan to achieve them.

Ultimately planning gives you options, maximizes your chances of success, and provides us the confidence in our decisions we all seek. Nothing is set in stone; life is forever changing. Having a plan and partner that evolves as you do is the key.  Like Yogi Berra once said,

“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else."