Flight attendants have a step in their preflight process called the destination check. It sounds something like this: “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Flight 123 bound for wherever. If wherever is not in your travel plans, now would be an excellent time to gather your belongings and deplane.”
Most of the passengers ignore the announcement and a few shake their heads in disbelief that anyone could actually get on the wrong plane.
A few years ago, I was on a flight headed to Chicago. It was the flight at the end of the day that tends to be packed with business people going home or to the next city. I had gotten lucky and been upgraded to first class. There I was, sitting in row five on the right-aisle seat, and I noticed the man sitting one row ahead of me on the opposite aisle. He had obviously been on the plane for a while by the time I boarded because he had already gotten very comfortable. His shoes were off, his tie was loose, his carry-on bags were stowed in the overhead compartment, his suit jacket was hanging in the flight attendant’s closet, he had a cocktail in his hand and was reading his book. He was fully settled in.
I was about to witness something I had never seen before and, until I saw it with my own eyes, might not have believed was possible.
The boarding door was to close in just another few minutes, but before it did the flight attendant took the microphone to make the destination check announcement, “Good evening ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Flight 718 bound for Chicago. If Chicago is not in your travel plans this evening, now would be an excellent time to gather your belongings and deplane.”
Mr. Totally Comfortable And Relaxed jumped like he’d been poked with a cattle prod! He was reading his book and only half listening to the announcement, when his head swiveled around. He looked at the passengers in his vicinity in a minor state of shock and asked, “Did she say CHICAGO?” I heard another passenger say, “Yes, she said Chicago.” He jumped out of his seat and yelled at the flight attendant, “Don’t shut the door, don’t shut the door, I’m not going to Chicago!” None of us had ever seen anything like it.
In a nanosecond, he went from relaxed and comfortable to mobilized into action. The drink goes down, the book goes back in the briefcase, the shoes go back on, the carry-on bags fly out of the overhead bin, and he digs his jacket out of the closet all in one, big sweeping motion. The rest of us just looked at each other, bewildered as he exited the plane. Did that just happen?
Here’s my first question: Why did he get off the plane? Because that’s what you do when you discover you are going somewhere you don’t want to be, of course!
Second question: How long did he wait to get off the plane? He got off the plane as fast as he possibly could. Why? Because the moment you are certain that the path you are on is not taking you where you want to be, the only reasonable course of action is to get off that path and get on the right path immediately, right?
My story about this passenger on the wrong plane is an analogy for life’s journey. Sometimes you are on the right path and sometimes you are not. The key is to be aware of the path you are on and make the appropriate change when you determine you are on the wrong path, based on your desired destination.
There are as many destinations as there are important things in life. Which destinations should you check? The ones where you want to go and arrive at by a certain time. Here are a few destination-check suggestions for the successful and the serious-about-being-successful financial advisor.
Personal money. What is your desired personal money destination? This one is easy to start with because money is easy to count. It’s easy to figure out how much you need in order to pay for the present lifestyle you want, to fund your future lifestyle and get your own financial house in order. Getting your own financial house in order means having the right amount of cash reserves, reducing or eliminating your debt, having the right amount of every type of insurance relevant for you and your family, saving and investing enough to be financially independent and fund your other goals, having all the appropriate legal documents (wills, trusts, etc.), and paying your taxes in full and on time. You can dramatically increase your confidence about the future by having a good handle on your personal money destination. Not to mention the confidence it will give you to be a financial advisor with your own financial house in order.
Action Idea: Hire a financial planner to write your financial plan and answer the questions about how much money you need to pay for the present lifestyle you want, get your financial house in order and fund your future goals. Pay someone else to do this for you even though you are in the business. This will help you be clear about your personal money destination.
Business revenue. What is your desired business revenue destination? It needs to be adequate to cover your business expenses and leave enough left over to fund your personal needs and wants. Anything beyond that is probably just overkill for your ego. I recommend that you focus on the business revenue that makes your life work instead of being distracted by numbers set by your company to qualify for a trip or to compete with others in the industry.
Action Idea: Do the math. How many ideal clients paying you what amount of recurring revenue will generate the business revenue to get you to your destination?
Fitness and health. What is your desired fitness and health destination? This is also easy to measure. You might measure lipids, body fat, body mass, calories consumed, number of workouts per week (strength, cardio, flexibility, balance), etc. Barring some unusual genetic health situation, you don’t end up out of shape and unhealthy by accident. It happens from being on the wrong health and fitness path and choosing (maybe refusing) to get off and get on the right path. What’s the point of being financially successful but not healthy and fit enough to enjoy it?
Action Idea: Get a comprehensive executive physical and ask your doctor, “What are the most important things for me to measure; what should my target number be in each area; what is the best way for me to get that number from where it is now to where it should be?” And consider hiring a personal trainer and/or nutritionist to help you create a fitness and health plan and stay on track.
Relationships. What are your relationship destinations? Some people feel that these are not as easy to measure as money and fitness because different people in your life will have different metrics. This is true. And yet, like most destinations that matter, there are plenty of things within your control that you can do to make them work better.
Action Idea: Make a list of the most important relationships in your life, get together with these people and ask questions like, “How do you know when our relationship is working?” and “What can I do to be a better (spouse, father, brother, sister, friend, aunt, uncle, mentor, boss). The very fact that you ask and listen to their responses will improve your relationships.
You can have similar destination checks regarding your spirituality, your philanthropy, and everything else that is important to you. Be aware of what’s important to you, engage in some honest reflection, and make a change where and when change is appropriate. There are no secrets to getting off the wrong path and getting on the right path. There are people who do and there are people who don’t. Which type of person you choose to be is up to you.
If you are not on the right path, how long are you going to stay on the metaphorical plane flying you to the wrong destination? Don’t make it long. Be clear about your destination, make the choices to get where you want to go, and be willing to do the work your desired destination requires.
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