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A Toddler’s Insight

Toddlers are known for their curiosity, asking the question “why” endlessly.

My son is four, and this 3-letter word is by far his favorite. Almost any day, we have a conversation that follows a similar progression. For example, consider a stop at a traffic light.

Why are we stopping?

Because the traffic light is red.

Why?

So other cars can cross the road.

Why?

So we do not hit them.

Why?

Because an accident could cause injuries.

Sometimes I manage to satisfy the curiosity, and the questioning ends in quiet reflection, and many other times, I simply admit I do not know the answer and will have to find out. As I considered his train of thought, I suddenly realized that there is more to his questions than just curiosity; he is steadily uncovering the root of a matter. We stop at traffic lights not just because they are red but so that we do not cause harm to ourselves or others.

Without any training or comprehension of what he is doing, my son is utilizing the 5 Why technique. Sakichi Toyoda, a Japanese inventor and industrialist, is accredited with this concept of asking “why” five times to get to the heart of a problem. For him, this method allowed his company to create solutions that would fix a problem and not just treat a symptom —asking“why” also teaches us what motivates us. To paraphrase Simon Sinek, it is not “what you do” (stopping at a traffic light) but “why you do it” (to avoid accidents). Truly, this question is not only helpful for a curious toddler, but it can also be useful in your approach to financial planning.

One of the first steps we take as financial advisors is defining and understanding your needs and goals. Many come to us with a retirement goal (ex., I want to retire at age 60). But have you asked yourself “why”?

“I want to retire at age 60.”

Why?

“Because I do not want to work forever.”

Why?

“Because I want more time to travel and volunteer within my community.”

As advisors, we have learned that a series of questions provides both clarity and the reason(s) to act. Simply working towards “retirement” may not provide ample motivation to implement strategies for success but working towards “the ability to travel more freely and spend time with family,” or perhaps “the ability to pursue a different interest,” clarifies your purpose and gives one appropriate motivation.

At Bridgeworth, we enjoy uncovering each unique goal and “why,” as well as creating an equally personalized financial plan tailored to those goals. If you are looking for a partner with a “one-size-fits-none” approach to help you achieve your lifetime goals, contact us today.