“I will Succeed because the fire inside me burns hotter than the fire around me”
When Paula’s financial advisor asked her to describe her number-one financial goal, Paula didn't have to think very hard about what it was; she just needed to decide how much she wanted to share.
Finally after a moment of silence she said, "Well, I need to prepare for my death."
Understandably surprised by the answer, the advisor asked Paula to elaborate.
"I suppose that's not a good way to start a conversation," she apologized. "I've been diagnosed with a terminal illness, and I need to make sure that my special-needs daughter will be cared for after I'm gone.”
"Paula, can you tell me how you're feeling about sharing this information with me," Ms. Heath, Paula's new financial advisor asked.
Paula wasn't sure how to answer this question. The more she thought about it, the more she realized she really didn’t know how she felt. Since learning of her diagnosis, Paula had put all her focus on how to make sure her daughter would be cared for but hadn’t stopped even for a moment to think about how she felt about anything.
"To be honest, I'm not really sure how I feel." she finally confessed before explaining that, although there were no known cures, it was possible she could live another five years, and she was determined to live as long as she could.
Ms. Heath is a veteran of the Money Organizer Plan system and she shared this story with us because this client experience was one of the most inspiring experiences of her twenty-five-year career.
"I've been so focused on helping people reach their Ideal Lifestyle, that I never considered having to help them plan for their ideal death." Ms. Heath said.
Three weeks after their first phone call, Ms. Heath had produced an ideal plan for Paula. "It was the most aggressive plan I've ever put together for anyone, and I was very concerned that it was perhaps too aggressive." she later recalled.
The challenge in this case was that Paula felt she needed to leave behind at least $1 million for her daughter’s lifetime care, but with an annual net annual income of just over $85,000, $31,000 in debt, just over $76,000 in her IRA, and no life insurance, Ms. Heath wasn’t too optimistic. However, she’d never encountered anyone as determined as Paula.
The first thing Ms. Heath did was to educate Paula that her daughter could actually be cared for with only about $500,000 instead of $1 million. But she didn’t pull any punches when telling Paula how challenging it would be to reach even $500,000 in that short amount of time. And what if she didn't live five years? Or even if she did, what if she couldn't continue to work due to her failing health? What if her business failed and couldn’t pay her as much money? These questions were all considered in the planning process.
When Ms. Heath ran the numbers, she found that Paula would need to put nearly $5,300 a month in an investment account, earning 8.5 percent a year for the next five years in order to have a chance at reaching her goal — and all on a net monthly income of $7,100.
"I remember one specific moment in a meeting with Paula that sent a chill down my spine. I was looking down at the Money Organizer Plan and pointing to the part that showed her how much money she would need to save each month in order to reach her lofty goal, and then I looked up at her and without even blinking her eyes she looked right at me and said, 'It will happen… I have no choice.'”
"I've never seen anyone with such determination in their eyes. That moment has stuck with me and even motivated me with my own personal goals," Ms. Heath told us.
Paula was fortunate to have plenty of support from friends and family during this time. She sold everything that wasn’t important and downsized her home and expenses in hopes of making her goal a reality.
She notified all of her clients of her situation, and although she was concerned she might lose some as a result, not one of them left her. In fact, some tried to help by referring her even more business.
"Wealth begins in the mind and ends in the behavior"
Reaching ones wealth potential depends on three key areas: belief, behavior, and belonging. Our beliefs dictate our behaviors and our belonging has to do with our support team. That can be friends and family, and it can also be mentors and advisors. It can even be a community you join. The support system you belong to is an important part of reaching your goals, as was proven in Paula's case.
In June 2014, Paula lost her battle with her illness. One month earlier she’d had a meeting with Ms. Heath to review her plan and see how close she was to her goal. She learned her investment savings account balance was just over $502,000.
She may have lost her battle, but in Paula's mind...she had won the war.
"There are no constraints on the human mind, no walls around the human spirit, no barriers to our progress except those we ourselves erect.”
This is an exceptional example of a mother’s love and the incredible potential of the human spirit. We are far more capable than we recognize. But when we lose sight of our own goals, we often join someone else's quest while forfeiting our own.
What’s your #1 financial goal today? How badly do you want to reach this goal? The good news and the bad news are the same… your success is mostly up to you.