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By Eric Kala CFP®, AEP®, CLU®, ChFC®, CRPS®

Eric Kala is a San Antonio based advisor that works extensively with physicians and business owners on their financial wellness and their specific needs around protecting and growing their assets.

It’s not a stretch to recognize that our thinking follows our attention. What we mull over, stew over, research or dwell on governs, or at least certainly influences, our thoughts, our attitudes, and ultimately our decisions. This can work for you or against you.

For example, if your attention is on the roller coaster ride of the markets, it won’t take long to experience the swings of emotion that come with up-markets and down-markets, and for your thoughts to be fixated on the ticker. It’s not a problem to be aware of it, but it usually doesn’t serve you to be checking it minute by minute.

“With a clear vision for the future, you can then start looking forward in a meaningful way.”- Eric Kala

When you’re making financial plans, or managing your plan, attention becomes even more important. Here’s a fundamental that needs to be understood: Planning is not about advice, it’s about decisions.

It’s tempting to put a lot of attention on advice; indeed, many financial advisors put a lot of attention there. But what we’ve found is that, while having good advice is critical, it’s secondary to clarity about the decisions that need to be made. That means paying to have someone at the planning table who can objectively and supportively help you develop the plan you need.

Plans need to be based on one thing, and one thing only: how you want your life to look in the future. That’s called a “vision.” It doesn’t have to be some benign statement on a plaque, but it’s important to have some sort of picture, idea, story or concept for what the future will be like. That is what a plan needs to address. If it doesn’t, your attention may not be quite right.

“It’s this simple: keep your attention on your vision, on the desired future state that matters to you.”- Eric Kala

But with a clear vision for the future, you can then start looking forward in a meaningful way. The next place to look is how you want things to happen. For example, we spend time with clients helping them not only articulate their vision, but to name the values, or rules, that need to be respected along the way. Ultimately, only by understanding someone’s vision and values can meaningful goals be created.

Goals are the steps you take that move you closer to your vision in a way that respects your values. When those are clear, then advice can be brought into the mix. Trying to get advice without clarity might feel soothing, but it risks the development of a misguided financial plan. And how does this connect to attention? It’s this simple: keep your attention on your vision, on the desired future state that matters to you. Work with an advisor who knows how to help you name it and articulate it, because then your attention will be well-placed, and your plans can be well-guided.


Avid Wealth Partners is a marketing name for Eric Ilmari Kala in their capacity as a representative of Northwestern Mutual and is not a legal business name. Northwestern Mutual is the marketing name for The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, Milwaukee, WI (NM) (life and disability insurance, annuities and life insurance with long-term care benefits) and its subsidiaries. Eric Ilmari Kala is a Representative of Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Company (NMWMC) Milwaukee, WI (fiduciary and fee-based financial planning services), a subsidiary of NM and a federal savings bank. Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ CFP® (with plaque design) and CFP® (with flame design) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board's initial and ongoing certification requirements.

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