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By Jessica Lanning, JD, CFP®


Last week I got The Lecture from my physical therapist.

I was whining about doing these all these exercises, how managing an older body takes up too much time, how youth is wasted on the young, and how I fear I’ll have to do these exercises for the rest of my life.

“Jessica,” he starts.

(Why do lectures always start with your name?!)

“Once we hit our 40s, we lose 10% of our muscle mass and 8% of our VO2 max every decade unless we do something to counteract these inevitable downward slides to decay and death.”

That last part was my dramatic embellishment but — let’s face it — this is how lectures land, especially since I already know these statistics. I just never thought they would apply to me.

“And if you want to keep being active in your life and skiing,” he continues.

(Wait?! Did he say skiing? Of course, I’m going to keep skiing.)

“Then you will probably have to do these exercises for the rest of your life.”

Ugh. I know he tells the truth.  And because he’s helped heal my hamstring and made me feel healthier and stronger, my brain insists that I listen to him.  I would call this unfair, but I know he shares this information from the love of his profession and a commitment to do right by me, his client.


Financial planning doesn’t have to be rife with lectures.

I know I’m equally guilty of lectures in my profession.

My worst offense is The Lecture on getting one’s estate planning done.  I’ve had too much direct (bad) experience with estate planning gone undone or wrong that I don’t want anyone in my world to fall victim.

I lecture from a place of experience and love.  I’m sure it frequently falls on deaf ears.  I’m not giving up the crusade.

I am not the worst offender in my office, however.  That designation belongs to my clients.

Most of the time I find my clients bring their own internal lectures with them, and I don’t have to do a thing.


What lectures are you telling yourself?

Just in the last two weeks, here are the lectures that clients have brought into my office that they’ve clearly internalized.

—We/I haven’t saved enough.

—We/I keep meaning to get the house titled in the trust and don’t get to it.

—We/I spend too much money and need to stop.

—We/I should have done financial planning a long time ago.

And this is the short list.  These are things they already “know.” I don’t have to deliver The Lecture.


What lies on the other side:  Dreams and desires

I would have completely discounted — or completely ignored as inapplicable to me — everything my physical therapist said except that he said the word “skiing.”

I love skiing.  I would like to ski for as long as I can. I have friends in their 80s who are still skiing.  I know it’s possible for me to have many more years of powder hitting me in the chest on a blue bird day, leaving fresh tracks behind me.

So I do the (expletive) exercises.

This is the promise for you:  If you do the work, start new habits, and hold the vision, your chances of achieving what you want increase dramatically.  Once you get a taste of that clarity and confidence, you will want more.  It’s — dare I say — fun.


Start where you are.  Do the best with what you’ve got.

I’m not getting a new back or inherit new genes or grow taller or stop time. My physical therapist and I are going to have to work with the body, the energy, and the resources I’ve got.

Here is the best thing this therapist says to me that I’m going to say to you:  “We are a long way from running out of options. If you’re up to continuing to work, let’s keep going.”

The same goes for your financial planning.  You have to start where you are, work with what you’ve got and optimize it.  Yes, it can be tedious and hard and the last thing you feel like doing today.

But imagine if it gives you skiing.  Or a chance to quit working for a paycheck.  Or to travel.  Start that new company. Take that sabbatical. Send that kid to college.  Buy that second home.

Yes, you’re going to have to do your physical therapy exercises and revisit your financial plan regularly.  It’s totally worth it for the opportunity that you want in your life.


Lanning Financial Inc. is a registered investment adviser. Information presented is for educational purposes only and does not intend to make an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of any specific securities, investments, or investment strategies. Investments involve risk and unless otherwise stated, are not guaranteed. Be sure to first consult with a qualified financial adviser and/or tax professional before implementing any strategy discussed herein. Past performance is not indicative of future performance.

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