How can you create a financial plan before you know where to aim? Your unique goals in life, what drives you, what you want to accomplish and what’s truly important – those are the targets. Not simply “retire someday”.

You don’t have to read a ton of self-help books or try to discover this on your own. There is a process that has been refined by the Kinder Institute of Life Planning to help individuals and couples discover their most important desires and how to live the best life possible.

Brad Tafoya is a Registered Life Planner and joins the podcast to discuss this process and how you can apply it yourself.

Our discussion includes:

  • Why the process of figuring out what is truly important to you comes before the technical stuff: budgeting, accounts, portfolios, investing, etc.
  • When you discover what fulfills you, it creates massive energy that empowers you to effect change in your life.
  • The 3 questions that are at the core of the process for discovering what truly matters to you
  • How to use what you discover to create a vision and overcome obstacles

This is financial planning done right. 


Find out more about Mike at and connect at

Mike: [:

Today is taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture. And what I feel is a more important picture. Why are we doing all this to begin with? What is the purpose? In financial planning, this might be goals and discovery trying to figure out, okay, what are we trying to reach? And of course your typical thing that comes to mind is retirement.

I want to retire, right? I want to retire and stop working someday. But what does that mean? What do you want to do? What are you passionate about? How do you want to live your best life? And that's what today's topics all about. And with me today, I have a special guest super special to me, this is a Brad Tafoya

he is a CPA, he's a certified financial planner. And the most important part to me is that he is a trainee at the kinder Institute of life planning. And I had the opportunity to recently go through a couple of their trainees and continue. My education, personal development and training. And Brad was one of the trainers there helping me and others through that process so far.

And so Brad, welcome to the show. It's great to have you.

Brad: [:Mike: [:

Cause if you don't know what you're aiming for in life, How are you ever going to get there? Now I mentioned the kinder Institute of life planning, and to be honest Brad, I hate the word life planning. It just turns me off. Now I understand what's underneath it and what we're going to talk about today, but

when I say life planning, how do you explain that to people that haven't heard of that before?

Brad: [:

And that is helping people figure out how to live their best lives to live their most fulfilled lives. And we have a process where we take clients through to help them do that. And our process is to find everything that's important to them. Because it all revolves around money, energy, talent.

And so we have to know what's important. First, once we figured out everything that's important, . Then we have a process where we take clients through to help them really figure out what the priorities are. What's their most important things to live in that fulfilled by it. As soon as we've done that, then the next step is to say, okay, now that we know what your priorities are, what are the things that could get in the way of accomplishing those priorities?

And once we've determined what those things are, what could get in the way, then we help them find their own solutions that empower them, engage them and give them the energy to make change. After we've done that then, and only then do we take a look at the finances and we build a financial plan that has those elements, all of the things that are important to them, those priorities, the solutions to things that might get in the way that is the foundation of their specific financial plan that is tailored to them and their financial needs.

And again, with that backdrop as the foundation. So in a sense, that's life planning.

Mike: [:

Because we all have limited resources of time, energy, money, and how do those combine. To empower you to move forward and just have that awesome life that you're looking forward to.

Brad: [:

And it's all driven by what's most important to you and trade-offs, and so if you don't know what your highest priorities are, How can you apply those things appropriately?

Mike: [:

But I, by going through this, I thought, oh, here's what I want to do next. Or here's where I'm headed or, the typical kind of retirements and the kids, through college these money questions. But as I went through these particular questions and went through this process, I discovered things about myself.

I didn't even know were there. And that's what's truly amazing. I went through the training so that I can bring this to other clients the same way Brad does and other registered life planners bring this to clients. And I discovered things about my passion around entrepreneurship, my passion around small business, doing a startup.

Treating my business as a startup and growing it and bringing this life planning to more people all through this process. So it's just been amazing for me. And that's the big reason I'm excited to have Brad on the show and introduce this topic to my listeners.

Brad: [:Mike: [:

Or, like you said, the kinder Institute has a process, that we can take people through that takes time, right? But it doesn't have to be aimless. there is a specific process that we can go through to get there.

Brad: [:

If a client doesn't really understand how something might be really, truly important to them, or they've pushed that to the back because I think other things are important then how can they truly plan their life and how can they truly plan their financial lives if they're not paying attention to those . Things.

And yes, we have a process that helps all of this come to the forefront.

Mike: [:

It's all of these typical, I'm using the air quotes here of financial planning. And how do you begin answering those questions without understanding what's important. And again, whenever I ask a client what's important, I want to retire at 55 or 60, or I want to travel more. Those are always the first answers.

But that's not truly what people want. If when you take just one little step deeper, you'll discover a wealth of things and we'll go more than just one step deeper.

Brad: [:Mike: [:Brad: [:

So, Before you even get into the financial piece, we're talking five, six hours. But as having gone through the process yourself and you just attest it to it is so worth it.

Mike: [:

Important to you, all the things that are important to you. So I'm going to read through the three questions. One at a time, Brad, these are George kinders and the kinder Institute of life planning. This is his classic three questions. Now there's a lot more material and a lot more to life planning.

I discovered these a few years ago, even before I was introduced to the Institute and I was like, oh, these are great. And I started using them completely wrongly in my practice. That's okay. We, get better as we go. But I've been using them and discovering how powerful they are. And now that I know more the meaning behind them, and that's what I want to ask you, Brad, today is what are we truly trying to use them for?

Okay. So this is the process, these three questions that go from the broad, what is important to you to getting a little more specific and more specific to get to what's truly critical in your life. All right. Here's the first question I want you to imagine. That you are financially secure, that you have enough money to take care of your needs now.

And in the future, the question is how would you live your life? What would you do with that money? Would you change anything? Let yourself go. Don't hold back. All your dreams. Describe a life that is complete. That is richly yours. I love that question, Brad. Everything starts coming up right away. All the things that would be so fun to do. So what are we trying to get to when we're asking this question or when people are exploring it on their own and

doing this

Brad: [:

And we just let them talk and we let them talk for an hour and a half. We find out everything in that first meeting that's important to them. And what we're doing there is we're setting up the stage to let them know that they're in a different place. We're creating a safe, confidential container for them to step into.

So often in our lives, we don't take the time to sit down and think about what's truly important to us. We may think about it up in our head. And let us spin around and spin around, but we don't ever really give ourselves the time or the permission to really put them down on paper. And that's what this process does.

So we start by creating that safe container by listening. And then we get into this question and by the time that the client has gotten to this point and we've listened to them, but maybe for the first time in their lives for an hour and a half, really finding out what's important to them. And then they answer this question, they just take off and the stuff that comes out.

Is everything you can think of, a second home quitting their jobs , but what it does though, is it really starts to get down to the things that are important in their life. Spending more time with family spending time with their kids, spending time with friends, traveling it just opens up so many different avenues and reminds them of the things that have been important to them.

Maybe even something like they've always wanted to learn how to play an instrument, but they didn't feel like they had the time. Or the talent and now that they have all the money in the world and time, maybe they could learn how to play that instrument. And so it's all these little things that come out of that just to paint a beautiful picture.

Mike: [:

And so you wouldn't, you're just not going to say that, but if you're given the space, you'll find that, oh yeah. First I want time. I want to travel. All right. What are you going to do? I'm going to go see places. Okay. What are you gonna do there? It's just, you keep going. And when you have an hour and a half to just literally spit out everything that you're interested in accomplishing stuff comes up that wow.

If I had the time. Yeah, I would do this and this. And then suddenly you say it out loud and you feel it's whoa. Yeah. that was important.

Brad: [:Mike: [:

So I'm going to read question number two, as we continue on this process, this time you visit your doctor, who tells you that you have five to 10 years left to live? Yeah. Or is it you won't ever feel sick at the bad news is you'll have no notice as to the moment of your death. What will you do in the time you have remaining to live? Will you change your life and how will you do it? , as I think about having a limited timeframe now, five to 10 years, obviously, things immediately. Coming to focus even though five or 10 years. you know, It's got some time, but , that's going to be here tomorrow. And so now to immediately focuses what is important, Brad?

I assume that's the point of getting to this question?

Brad: [:

You've given them all this stuff. Now you've got five to 10 years. What is it that's really important. How are you going to accomplish all of those things? And that's where the priority start to really fall out. And you start to see some real recognization that something that somebody thought they needed to put off 10 or 15 years.

No, they need to have that now. When they suddenly realize that they have five to 10 years left live.

Mike: [:


Brad: [:

And so again, it creates that energy to move forward and reach those things sooner.

Mike: [:Brad: [:

Where did the world not get from you? And that really puts people in a different space. And so this whole three questions, right? It's like a big funnel and you start at the top with everything that's important and then become down to the five or 10 year timeframe. And now all of a sudden, boom, you've been given one day and you're looking back, who did you not get to be?

What did you not get to do? What talents did you not get to use? And boom, it becomes crystal clear. And in that instance what things you would have missed out on and who you didn't get to be. We now know what three, four or five things are truly the most important to that client and their specific situation.

Mike: [:

It's oh here's the things I want to accomplish. I probably have decades to do this. I can't wait until. X Y Z, but no. This is, this is today. You got to look backwards today and what did you miss? We better start on that tomorrow. We better get going on that. if that's important to you, it needs to be on the obituary needs to be on the stone.

Like there's no waiting for retirement or waiting for five years or 10 years. It's let's figure out how to get that going today.

Brad: [:

Things like that. And you say what does that have to do with finance? Or does that have to do with money think of everything in terms of a trade off of energy, talent, and money and time, usually those things that are so important to us get put off because. We think we have to do something else.

We think we have to work 10 hours a day to make our financial ends meet. We get so tied up in all these other things that those go to the back burner. And so this process really helps remind people. Yeah. What's truly important and recognized.that. Yeah. All of that is a trade-off.

And so where do you really want to apply your time? Energy and talents and money? It all is tied together.

Mike: [:

And this helps us with the, maybe the first stage of figuring out, okay. Here's truly. The most important things in my life, Brad, what do we do from there? Are there more steps, the next steps in the process that someone can take on their own? Or of course, when they work with a life planner, what comes after this?

Brad: [:

So now what we do is if you're working with, a financial life planner, we really try to do is we take all of that information. And we build a vision of that client's life and replay it back to them of how things might be different for them based on all of this stuff that we've heard, that puts all of those things that they've just established as priorities for themselves at the forefront of their plan.

And we give that back to them, if you will, as a vision or as a gift to say, what if your life was like this? And the purpose of that is to create energy now that we know. What is important. We are now creating energy for our clients to remind them of how important it is and to go forward and to really take these steps.

Once they have the energy, then we ask what could possibly get in the way, And what we find is that if we've done our jobs correctly, to establish those priorities and that energy There's certainly some things that get in the way, but those things are not as big as they used to seem because the clients now are so energized and they start to solve these things that might get in the way on their own.

And you ask them, okay what could you do about that? And they're like boom. Here's what I can do. And again, we have a process that we help them through that to find those solutions, if they can't come up with them right away on their own. But it's all about empowering them and energizing them so that they.

Go forward and actually make these changes.

Mike: [:

Brad does not say to somebody, Hey, in 20 years, here's what your life is going to look like. It's six months from now, 12 months from now. What if we had these changes.

such that here's the way your life looks. If you want to spend more time with your kids. You're doing that in specifically a day that you might be spending with the kids and it feels great.

And you've got the time to do that. So painting that kind of picture in the very, very near term to make changes now, going through that, the energy that's created is unbelievable. It just is. So it's something that we could talk about today. That's what we're talking about, but it's hard to really press upon a listener, just the energy and emotion that is absolutely created by thinking about your life in nine months, that has many more of the parts in it.

That you want to have in it. It's amazing energy. And then as Brad said, what could possibly get in the way of making that happen? Let me tell you, you'll be knocking those things down. There's no tomorrow you'll be getting at it.

Brad: [:

But because of the, again, the permission, the energy, the space that we've created and empowering them, they start knocking these things off much sooner than even they thought they could and sooner than what you give it to them. And so it's just, it's really is a amazing and beautiful process.

Mike: [:

Truly incredible. So from the top what's important to you defining that, getting very precise, right? With those questions, then the vision of the future near term future. Then knocking out obstacles, what can get in the way and getting started on those. And then that's where we get back to the traditional quote, unquote financial planning.

All right. Are we using your money and your time and energy to make that vision a reality as soon as we can.

Brad: [:Mike: [:

What are other places, Brad, there's also a website, the life planning for you.

Brad: [:

And then once you've done that, if you feel like you want more than there's a place where you can find a registered life planner to help you through this process. And, Mike what we like to say is that life planning is really financial planning done. Right? So what I often tell my clients is I can answer your financial questions. I can certainly do that, but it would be doing you a disservice if I didn't know everything that's important to you. If I don't know those priorities, if I don't know what could get in the way, then I'm just throwing darts at a dart board.

Mike: [:

I'm just sitting here nodding and smiling because it's so true. It's, the specific financial questions we can answer. It's not as hard as a lot of people think, but when you're trained and you've got some background in it, you know, but how is that helping somebody truly live their best?


Brad: [:Mike: [:

I've gone through it and I'll just take five or 10 minutes to jot some stuff down. You won't get nearly as much out of it. You can do it on your own, but make sure you're really setting aside some time and push yourself. Hey, what else? Anything more?

I mean, Really fill in that stuff, give yourself a bunch of space and time and there's good prompting questions there. So just take your time going through it. The more time you put in, the more valuable the output is going to be.

Brad: [:Mike: [:Brad: [:Mike: [:Brad: [:Mike: [:Brad: [:Mike: [:Brad: [:Mike: [:

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