189 Designing A Great Year

Jason and Emilia discuss designing a great year for 2019. 

Below is the full transcript:


Announcer: Welcome back, America, to Sound Retirement Radio where we bring you concepts, ideas, and strategies designed to help you achieve clarity, confidence, and freedom as you prepare for and transition through retirement. And now, here is your host, Jason Parker.

Jason:  America. Welcome back to another round of Sound Retirement Radio. So glad to have you tuning in. It’s my good fortunate to have Emilia Bernal in the studio with me. Emilia, welcome back.

Announcer:Thank you, good morning everyone.

Jason:  Good morning. This is Episode number 189, Designing a Great Year. I am so excited to share this one with people. But before I do, there are two ways we like to start. One is by renewing our mind and the second is with something to put a smile on your face. So the verse that I have for us this morning is James 1:22. “Do not merely listen to the Word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” That’s pretty direct.

Emilia: Yes, straight to the point.

Jason:  Do what it says.

Emilia: All right. So, new year and I’m going to give us all a little bonus today and I’m going to do two jokes today.

Jason:  Yes, all right. New year, 2019.

Emilia: Here we go.

Jason:  More smiles, more fun.

Emilia: Yes. Jason, did you hear about the two antenna that got married?

Jason:  Two antenna?

Emilia: That got married.

Jason:  No.

Emilia: Well, the ceremony was nice but the reception was amazing.

Jason:  I like it. Hey, let’s do the second one later. Let’s make them wait for it. They got to earn it. They’ve got to actually listen to more of the show if they want the second.

Emilia: Sounds like a plus.

Jason:  I like the reception.

Emilia: All right, Jason. You said the title today was Designing a Great Year. So why are we doing the show called Designing a Great Year?

Jason:  You know, last year we did a show similar to this that was called Your Sound Retirement Plan and it was really well received. The whole focus of the show was really getting your money in order and we did so much work last year. We helped so many people design a really amazing financial plan so that they could have more confidence. But I realize I missed it. I missed my opportunity to really help shape people’s wellbeing and their lives overall, not just their money but their actual life. Every year I get this opportunity to just kind of reflect back on the year that I had and I realize how good it was. I’m like, man, I got to teach people this piece.

Jason:  It’s great to be able to help them with their finances and their investments and their planning as they get ready to make this transition into retirement, but it’s so much more than just the numbers. It’s so much more than the money. Me and some friends, we’ve been working on developing this process that we go through every year and so I want to teach it. I want to help people have a great and amazing year and I’m going to teach them how to design it.

Emilia: Yeah. That’s awesome. So Jason, how do you design a great year?

Jason:  One day at a time.

Emilia: One day at a time. That’s a really great start.

Jason:  Every year … But to kind of get into the formula if you will, the system that we’ve created. Every year for the last several years now, I get together with a group of guys and we spend one day. We kind of get out. We go out to a resort that’s local here in the area. This year there were eight of us and we are just really intentional about asking some hard questions, articulating the answers to those difficult questions, and then putting all the pieces together.

Jason:  One of the things I think is so important here, and this is why I want to actually do a webinar on this, Emilia, is somebody once said … How did they say this? A recipe is more than a list of ingredients. It’s understanding how to put all of those ingredients together. And so today what I’m hoping to do is give people kind of a baseline of the formula, the questions that we ask and things to be thinking about but on the webinar I’m actually going to take … Hopefully they’ll get a chance to work on some of these questions and then we’re going to put it all together. I think that’s the piece that’s been missing and it’s one of the things I’m really excited about.

Emilia: That’s great. So just to let our listeners know, Jason is going to be hosting a special one-time workshop on how to Design a Great Year. This is a one-time event so be sure to sign up. The date of this webinar is Wednesday, January 16th at 5:30 p.m. You can go to soundretirement.com to sign up for that webinar.

Jason:  Sound Retirement Planning.

Emilia: Oh, sorry. Sound Retirement Planning. I’m losing it in the new year. Uh-oh. Yes. So I know you’re going to teach people exactly how to do this but can you share some of the ideas that you’re going to be going over?

Jason:  Yeah, because like I say, we’ve been doing this for several years and we spent all day, the eight of us. This year we spent all day. We started right at 8:00 a.m. and just went all day really working on this. I don’t think that in 25 minutes on a radio show or podcast we’re going to be able to cover all of the topics but I want to give people at least a starting point if you will. I know this is going to sound weird for some people out there but before we really start to design a great year … And one of the things I’m always amazed at is just how good each year it. At the end of the year I think, “Man, it can’t any better”, and then I end up having this amazing year.

Jason:  Stephen Covey once wrote in his book, he said, “Begin with the end in mind”, in the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. We changed this a little bit and so the exercise this year … I’ll share with you the specific exercise but before I do there’s a quote from Steve Jobs. He said in a speech that he gave that “death is very likely the single best invention of life”. One of the exercises that we did this year and this one was really powerful and it’s emotional. It’s hard. If you had the good fortune to be able to say one last thing as you took your final breath what would you want to say? Yeah.

Emilia: Like, wow.

Jason:  It’s kind of heavy. I mean you’re thinking about that final breath. Boy, to hear these men share what’s on their heart. I mean, you only get one thing you can say. One of the reasons this came about is because somebody that we serve passed away last year and their wife came in and she was sharing with me this experience so I wanted to share with our listeners a couple of the different things that I’ve heard people say in that very last breath, that last moment. So in this particular case the woman, her husband had been battling dementia and so there were times when he would say stuff that just didn’t make any sense. One morning she was cooking breakfast and he was sitting at the table and she had her back to him. He’s sitting there and he says, “I’m going home.” She said, “Ah, honey, you are at home.” And he said it again. He said, “I’m going home.” And she looked and he died right there at the breakfast table.

Emilia: Wow.

Jason:  He was a Christian. He was a believer. He had good faith and so those were real words of peace for her. It really encouraged me actually when I heard that story and it really made me think about what would you say in that last moment. Steve Jobs, his sister said that as he was lying there dying, took his last breath, and the last thing he said was, “Oh, wow. Oh, wow. Oh, wow”, three times.

Emilia: Oh, gosh. Can you imagine what he was feeling or seeing?

Jason:  Can you imagine?

Emilia: No. It sounds like it was …

Jason:  Pretty amazing.

Emilia: Yes.

Jason:  Then the last one is, of course, our ultimate example. Our ultimate teacher is Jesus and to think that everything he said was so intentional. There were no accidents. No last minute decisions and in that last moment, those last breath he says, “It is finished.” He came with a purpose to accomplish freedom for all of us and eternity and heaven for all of us and in that last moment those were the breaths. If we think about him as our example, he knew exactly what he would say. Anyways, the first part of the exercise is a little bit grim. It’s a tough way to start but we want to begin at the very end in mind. If we could, if we were so blessed that we could have some influence and some say with our family members, our loved ones standing around us, what would we say? It’s a first good exercise.

Emilia: Thank you for sharing those stories. That was really neat. It’s making me just think right now, what would you want. You’re life living up to those moments is what it is, I guess. You’re just trying to find that peace and making sure that you’re happy at that time and you’re ready to pass.

Jason:  Yeah, and it’s more than happiness. It’s fulfillment. It’s contentment, that you’ve lived your best life. That’s really what we want to do. So the next exercise, the next part of this, and this is where it starts to get a little bit of fun. It’s to start the year with gratitude. One of the best ways I’ve found to do that is to get you’re … We all carry our phone around all the time and we take pictures of everything. But all of us in the room, we got out our phone. We went back to January and we just started going through all of the pictures, January through December, and we write down all of these experiences we had. It is so good to do that. There was so much that happened in 2018, so much I’m grateful for.

Jason:  When you’re looking at all these pictures, these images, boy, it just makes you so grateful. How can life be much better than this? The people that you got to spend with. The key to the exercise is you do this year in review, is as you look at those pictures, what you’re really trying to understand is the emotional response you’re having as you’re looking at the pictures. Because you’ll find and I’ve found, that some of the pictures create a stronger emotional response than others, stronger positive emotional response.

Jason:  It’s those pictures as we begin to design the New Year, that we want to try to think how do we have more of those moments. One of my favorite pictures as I was looking back through 2018, was I took my son and daughter backpacking. It was my daughter’s very first time on a backpacking trip. I think I shared the story on a previous show about we almost got or I thought we were going to get eaten by a bear.

Emilia: By a bear.

Jason:  But I was looking through those pictures and my daughter with her arm around her brother up at the very top with these mountain peaks in the background. I just thought, wow, that was so good. But there are so many memories like that and it’s a wonderful exercise. So before we starting designing the new year, we just want to think about how good the previous year was.

Emilia: That’s a great way to get started. Just being grateful for everything you had the year before and just making it another better, greater year.

Jason:  Now, I’ll tell you the caution here. You’ve got to beware of … Because it’d be very easy to look back at the previous year and if you have the wrong mindset going into this, looking at all the things that went wrong. I have to share. I had this really crazy medical event happen, health event happen last year. What happened to me was I got hit with vertigo. I don’t know if any of our listeners have ever had this before and sometimes when I tell people I was dizzy, I don’t think they realize how dizzy I was.

Jason:  I was so dizzy that when I went to the doctor’s office I had to have somebody help me from my car to the doctor’s office actually. I mean, every step, it’s like I couldn’t figure out where my feet were. The world was just spinning. This lasted for about five days and I was really worried that I had had a stroke or that something really bad had happened. I take really good care of myself, I eat right, I exercise all the time. I’m thinking to myself, “What in the world is going on?” Had I focused on something like that … Well, obviously that’s an event that I don’t ever wish on anybody and I don’t ever want to have happen again but the focus of this exercise is looking for the good and the photos that bring out the most positive emotion.

Emilia: I guess you can always find you learn from every experience too.

Jason:  Yes.

Emilia: Just kind of figuring things out but staying positive.

Jason:  Yeah, and that experience gave me just a wonderful time. I just remember at one point sitting in my living room looking at this painting. My wife’s an artist and looking at this painting that my wife had done and just being so grateful for the beauty that she brings into the world through the work that she does. I just was so grateful for that in that moment. Anyway, I’ve got a couple other things here. The greatest teacher of all time, again, I’m a little biased here but I believe that is Jesus. One of the things Jesus did, two things, the way that he taught primarily. One is he told stories and two he asked questions.

Jason:  So this next set of criteria are some of the questions that we worked on. These questions are so important that you actually write down an answer to them. It’s not okay to just think about it. For our people driving down the road in Seattle this morning, maybe they need to go back and listen to the podcast. This is number 189, Designing a Great Year.

Jason:  We want them to actually write down the answers so here are a couple of the questions. The first one is probably the easiest of all and this is really the only one where we really talk about money. The question is what’s the purpose of your money? What’s the purpose of your money? Now that sounds like a pretty simple question but a lot of people have never really thought about it and so what we want them to do is write it down. Now, this doesn’t have to be a two-page essay on what the purpose of the money is. As far as I’m concerned it could be one sentence or just a few words. What’s the purpose of your money?

Jason:  The second question that we all had to write down our response to is one that I call, and none of these are new questions. These are things that I have learned and picked up over the year. Unfortunately I would like to be able to give credit to who gave them to me originally but I just don’t know. I’ve just kind of held onto the questions. I think of myself as a collector of questions.

Emilia: That’s good.

Jason:  This next question is you go to the doctor and the doctor gives you some bad news. He says, “I’m sorry but you only have five years to live” but he says, “The good news is, you’re not going to be in any pain.” So the two questions that come out of that scenario are how would you spend your time and who would you spend your time with? Again, the two questions. The doctor says you’ve got five years. You’re not going to be in any pain. The questions are how would you spend your time? Who would you spend your time with? And again, it’s not good enough to just think about this. You actually have to write the response down because what ends up happening at the end of this process is we put all of these different pieces together and we build what I call a purpose statement for your life.

Jason:  This is going to be an awesome webinar. I’m really excited to lead people through this process and to be able to answer questions as a community to talk about it and just share with one another what they’re thinking.

Emilia: What a great way to start your year.

Jason:  Oh, it’s really good, yeah. So the next question is, once we realize that time is finite. One of the things I talk to people about is if you’ve lived to age 65, you’ve lived 23,725 days. For a male in the United States of America if they live to life expectancy, that’s age 82, that means they have 6,205 days remaining. So if you’ve lived to 65, that 23,725 days, life expectancy is 6,205 more days. One of the things we’ve got to get people to do … There’s so many people living in the land of someday. Someday I’m going to go on that river cruise through Europe. Someday I’m going to run a marathon. Someday I’m going to tell my kids how much I love them.

Jason:  And then something happens. They have a stroke. They start down the slippery slope of dementia or whatever the health care event is. They lose the person that they care the most about and the opportunity is lost. We don’t want that to happen. We have to understand that you can spend your money and make it back but once you spend a day, you never get it back. So we just really want to be intentional about how we spend that time because it’s a very, very valuable asset. And the fact that people are spending some of their time listening to the show makes me just happy to think about.

Emilia: Great. Thank you all for listening.

Jason:  The next piece … Because we want people focused. We want them to get really focused so we just talked about having five years. The next question is, now you go to the doctor and the doctor says, “I’m sorry but you need to go home and get your affairs in order. You’ve got 24 hours to live.” And so the two questions that come out of this one are … This one can be hard for people and again, they’ve got to write the answer down. What are you most proud of? And what’s your greatest regret? Life is not all unicorns and rainbows. Many of us have made mistakes and that’s okay. But what we want people to be focused on is how to be designing a life where they’re moving intentionally towards this life that they’re proud of.

Jason:  And making sure that they’re putting up some guards and barriers and walls to avoid having to deal with those regrets. I don’t know that you get through life without having some but it would be nice if we were intentional about designing it. So the two questions again, what are you most proud of and what’s you’re greatest regret? And then this last one, this last question is one that I got from my friend [Dean 00:18:24], my mentor Dean. And this is not a question he asked me although he was an expert at asking questions. That’s one of the things that I loved about him and his sense of humor. He used to call me King Parker because he said, “Jason, you come to me and you ask me questions and I share with you and then you do the exact opposite.” He said, “We just need to get you a little crown.” In fact he says the logo on Parker Financial looks like a crown.

Emilia: Oh, it does. You’re right.

Jason:  Having a mentor, having a friend and then also losing that friend a couple years ago, the two questions that he left me with, not necessarily that he ever asked me but that I have had the opportunity to contemplate which is, who did you love and how did they know they were loved? So again, you’ve got to write those down. Who did you love and how did they know it? I’ll never forget. I was at a barbecue years ago and a woman had lost her husband and she said to me as we were sitting there. She said, “Jason, never underestimate the value of those love letters that you sent to your wife”, because she had a shoebox full of them. And she said now that her husband had passed away, sometimes she would go and get those letters and just be reminded of that relationship and how important that was to her.

Jason:  Boy that was a great learning opportunity. I don’t ever want to forget these important things that I’m learning. Those are the questions. That is the last question. Who did you love and how did you know that you loved them? Once you have the answer to all of those, that’s when we get to actually start putting all of the pieces together. Emilia, let’s remind our listeners we’re going to be doing one webinar on this. This is not something I’m going to be doing every month. This is a one-time shot so if they are interested in really designing their great life and they’re willing to do the hard work of actually answering these questions, I want them to join us on the webinar. Will you tell them again when it is?

Emilia: Yes. So our webinar is scheduled for next Wednesday, January 16th at 5:30 p.m. Again, soundretirementplanning.com and you can go to register for that webinar. That is Wednesday, January 16th at 5:30 p.m. Pacific Time.

Jason:  Yes.

Emilia: All right. So you were on Focus and …

Jason:  Yes. So the next one is Focus. Where our focus goes is where our life goes. Warren Buffett and Bill Gates were both asked at a dinner party if there were one word to describe why you’ve been as successful as you are, what would that one word be and in unison they both responded, focus. So we really want to be clear about what we’re focusing on. The next step in the exercise is to write down these areas of your life. Lifestyle, relationships, family, spiritual, physical, mental, business, and financial. Then as quick as you can, in less than three minutes, you have to write one thing in each of these different areas that you think is the absolute most important.

Jason:  So what’s the most important thing in lifestyle? What the most important in relationship? What the most … family, spiritual, physical, mental, business, financial. You got to do it fast. You can’t spend a lot of time because what I’ve found is that you know the answer to the most important things you need to be focusing on. If you think about it too much, you make it too hard. If you give yourself a time limit of three minutes what happens is your brain knows exactly what the answer is to these things so you’ve just got go through and write them down.

Jason:  Now, the next part is really hard and I know we’re running out of time so we may not get to get through this whole exercise but we’ll go through it all on the webinar. The next part of this is once you’re written down one thing for each of these areas of your life, you have to go through and circle only the top three. So each one of these is so important.

Emilia: More and more focused.

Jason:  The lifestyle, the relationship, the family, the spiritual, the physical, the mental, the business, the financial. I literally groaning out loud as I was going through this. I was like, “Agh, if I have to pick only one and all eight are so important to me. How do I pick just my top three?” But you’ve got to narrow the list. You can’t have more than three because more than three you just won’t remember all eight. Now I am fortunate, you can see right here is I have all eight listed out, written on a wall and hanging right in front of my face every single day. But I have my top three circled. So I just know that at the end of 2019 if I accomplish those three things, I just know it’s really going to be a good year so that’s the next piece.

Emilia: All right, Jason. One of the things you talk about a lot you do is focus on peace, joy and contentment. Will you share how you do this?

Jason:  Yes. We only have one minute but …

Emilia: Okay.

Jason:  Here’s the thing. This is really simple but it’s not easy. Simple but not easy. If you want to have more peace, joy, and contentment there’s two things. Number one, you’ve got to keep the bad stuff out. For most of us what that means is we’ve got to unplug from the bad news. There is the bad news network that exists. You’ve got to turn it off. If you got that Fox News, CNN, CBS. CNN stands for constantly negative network. CBS is consistently bad stuff and Fox is frequently obscene and X-rated. I just made everybody mad because all of the news stations were … I mean, you’ve just got to turn that stuff off. It’s poison for your brain. That’s number one.

Jason:  The second thing is to focus on the best things. What I’ve found is again, you’ve got to write it down. Find those people you love the most. Get a journal for each one of them and every day just write one thing that you love the most about them. I’m telling you, you do those two things, keep the bad things out and think about how much you appreciate the people in your life that you love. Life is great. With that, Emilia, we’re out of time until next week. Thanks for being here.

Emilia: Thank you.

Announcer:  Information and opinions expressed here are believed to be accurate and complete for general information only and should not be construed as specific tax, legal, or financial advice for any individual and does not constitute a solicitation for any securities or insurance products. Please consult with your financial professional before taking action on anything discussed in this program. Parker Financial, its representatives or its affiliates have no liability for investment decisions or other actions taken or made by you based on the information provided in this program. AAll insurance-related discussions are subject to the claims paying ability of the company. Investing involves risk. Jason Parker is the president of Parker Financial, an independent fee-based wealth management firm located at 9057 Washington Avenue NW, Silverdale, Washington. For additional information call 1-800-514-5046 or visit us online at soundretirementplanning.com.