Making a financial and life action plan means embarking on a conscious pilgrimage, not a blind excursion. As I discuss in chapter 3 of Mindful Money: Simple Practices for Reaching Your Financial Goals and Increasing Your Happiness Dividend, in order to do that, you need to get clear about two things: Here and There. Where are you now and where do you want to go? Every trip starts with these two coordinates. A map is useless unless we know our Here and our There.

It is easy to lose sight of our Here or to miss it entirely. Caught up in our unfolding dramas and daily repetitive routines, we can forget to ask the most fundamental questions about our lives. Our Here is a thorough understanding of who we are and what is important to us at this time in our life. Take a moment to consider each of the following questions, either simply pondering them or writing your answers down:

  • Who am I?
  • How do I view my place in the universe?
  • What matters most to me?
  • Who matters most to me and how do I show that?
  • What delights me and makes my life worth living?
  • What are my greatest strengths and talents?
  • Where do I derive my sense of meaning?
  • What is the point of my life?
  • What motivates me and makes me tick?

These questions, and others like them, are the stuff of Here. It is both pointless and impossible to try to make a financial plan without giving a lot of thought to your Here. Who is this person embarking on this pilgrimage? What matters deeply to this person? What satisfies, delights, and motivates this person?