2009 had two significant events that nearly derailed me—I lost my beautiful and inspirational mother to cancer, and had a terrible car accident that left me quite injured. At one point, I questioned everything. Was I successful? Was I truly making a contribution to my clients and my community? If I couldn’t continue as a financial planner, what would I do? Was all the effort worth it? Did I feel good both physically and mentally? Were my “friends” really my friends? Was my life’s “dream” still my dream? For most of the year I felt alone and isolated even while surrounded by friends and family. I often felt lost and disillusioned. (I know. I’m the only one who’s ever felt like that!)

Enter Timothy Ferriss, author of the Four-Hour Work Week. In his remarkable book (available at Amazon.com), he asked two questions that hit me like a bolt of lightning: 1) If you had a heart attack and could only work 2 hours a day, what would you do, what would you delegate, and what would you let go. And if that wasn’t enough, 2) If you had a heart attack and you could only work 2 hours a week, what would you do, delegate, and let go? This was an incredible answer to my dilemma with my injury. All I did was substitute “heart attack” and enter “car accident” and that was my life, my doctors’ orders. Immediately, I banished all thought of not being able to remain a financial planner. At that very moment, I started living my dream, injuries and all, using Tim’s tips, suggestions, and strategies.

The key to living our dreams is PASSION. What are you passionate about? What is it that you would scale a mountain for to shout from its top …”Now hear this …”? You might want to give some serious thought to this. I know I did. It’s all I could do while recuperating. I sorted out quite a lot by asking myself the following questions:

•Did I want to?
•Was it an obligation?
•Does it serve me?
•Could I delegate it?
•Could I eliminate it?

It really is true that most of what we do is for ourselves even though we swear we “have to do it” in the name of our jobs, children, spouses, and friends. Decide to make different choices with your actionable time. By running your tasks, errands, meetings, relationships, reading, etc., through this filter, you’ll be amazed at how much you will be able to eliminate completely or delegate to someone else. This enables you to complete more work in less time, thereby freeing up time to work on things you are truly passionate about.

My recuperation started while working my financial planning business an hour a day until I could work longer. If you would have told me six months ago I would only be able to work 20 hours a week, I would have had a conniption fit and spiraled downward by the weight of self-imposed anxiety and guilt. But that didn’t happen. Instead, I learned how to put me first; something I could never do before. I’ve got more time to spend on the things I value most—my faith, my husband, my friends, and my clients. I never thought I would say that two of the most disturbing incidents in my life enabled a life-changing discovery I am truly grateful for. But then again, doesn’t the phoenix arise and fly out from ashes? Now I truly understand the beauty of the mythological lore.

How does this relate to financial planning? Well for starters, time is a priceless resource. This plan allows you to reclaim your time so you’re free to do what you were meant to do. By decreasing the hours spent on earning an income, yet maintaining or even increasing revenues, your income per hour rises. That makes good financial sense. Again, as a holistic financial planner, I like to look at the client’s life as a whole. This methodology feeds personal values and increases resources that guide and direct our investment policies and decisions, no matter if you’re an entrepreneur or employee. That’s why I’m sharing it with you. So what if it wasn’t all my idea, I learned a lot from Tim. So can you.

I challenge you to use this filter to weed out extraneous expenditures and activities. After a few weeks, take a little time to assess the changes and discover how much more time and resources you have and the impact of those results.

You can live your dream now if you live your life by intentionally choosing what to spend your precious time on and what not to. I choose faith, family, friends, and clients. How are you going to start smart in 2010? Let me know by commenting below.

© 2010 Start Smart Advisor™, Inc.

Author's Bio: 

Renée E. Cabourne , CFP®, is an entrepreneur, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM Professional, international speaker, and author. She has been serving clients since March 2000 and is dedicated to their financial literacy and success. Her independence enables her to put their needs before her own, and her passion to educate empowers them with knowledge, understanding, and confidence in their own ability to make financial decisions.

Financial Solutions When You Need Them!

As a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM Professional, Renée possesses a wealth of experience and a proven ability to deliver successful financial solutions including investment and insurance advice. She is accomplished in educating and motivating clients to become active members of their own financial team, enabling their comprehension and self-confidence.

Renée is an Adjunct Professor at Chaffey College in Rancho Cucamonga, CA, teaching “Introduction to Personal Financial Planning” and “Introduction to Investments.” She is actively involved in NAWBO, the Financial Planning Association, and the Pomona Valley Estate Planning Council.