Journal of Financial Planning: October 2020
Anna N’Jie-Konte, CFP®, is founder of Dare to Dream Financial Planning where she guides her clients toward realizing their financial aspirations, their dreams, and then some.
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Anyone who has worked in the financial planning profession knows that no two days are ever alike. It is oftentimes difficult to predict just how your day is going to go. I have come to love and accept this part of my chosen profession (never a dull moment!) but it is my reality. I hope this column helps shed some light on what it’s like to be a busy CFP® professional balancing growing a new business and enjoying my growing family.
I’m an early riser, usually up somewhere between 5:30 and 6:00 a.m. I sneak around my house and pray that none of the kids will hear me. Spoiler alert: they almost always wake up and either I send them back to bed or they lay quietly on the couch in my home office while I work.
I take some time to meditate and drink a cup of tea while I reflect on the day ahead of me. This is often when I write my blog posts as the quiet in the house allows me to reflect on things with a clear head. Blogging is a major part of my marketing strategy, and I aim to publish posts at least twice a week. (At the time of this writing) I started my firm, Dare to Dream Financial Planning, about nine months ago. I am building up my client base, so I have a lot of time to focus on marketing.
The kids are officially up around 7 a.m. I spend about an hour packing lunches, making breakfast, and getting them ready for school. Pre-COVID-19 pandemic, they were off to school around 8 a.m., and I take about 45 minutes to exercise (either lifting weights or going for a swim). I then have breakfast, shower, get dressed, and commute the 10 feet from my bedroom to my home office around 9:30 a.m.
I always resist the temptation to go straight to work in my workout gear, because otherwise I’d be too tempted to never put on real clothes unless it were for client meetings. I notice the difference in how I feel and how I show up for clients when I get dressed and think it’s the least I can do to get myself in the right mindset.
I’m a lover of self-imposed structure and have dedicated certain days of the week to certain activities. Mondays and Wednesdays are for marketing, blogging, podcasting, and social media. Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays are for client and prospect meetings, running financial plans, admin work, and checking in on my financials.
11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Today is a Wednesday, which pre-pandemic I usually spent working at my favorite café in order to break up some of the monotony of working from home. I usually work from the café from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Today I have a goal of writing three blog posts and working on launching my personal website, which will host my new podcast and serve as a landing page for my different ventures.
I leave the café around 3 p.m. to pick up my girls from school. We sit down together for a snack so they can tell me about their day. I’m usually back in my office by 3:45 p.m. to answer emails, write up my task list for the next day, and clear my desk. I shut down work by 5:30 to have dinner with my family. Then I rinse and repeat.
What I Want You to Know
That’s a bit about what my day looks like from a logistical standpoint. What I really want to share is what motivates me to get up every day and continue to be a better planner and entrepreneur:
I get so much motivation from problem-solving and alleviating financial stress from my clients. Every single one of my clients hired me when they had reached a tipping point of financial stress and anxiety. Whether that be due to student loan debt, combining finances after a recent marriage, or devising a general wealth-building strategy—each one carried anxiety around their finances. Knowing that I play a not-so-small role in working through those stressful situations and finding a workable solution to remove that stress is so gratifying. I honestly feel like we need to rename this job to “professional money stress reliever.”
Avoid getting sucked into working 24/7. I have recently put strong boundaries on home versus work life, but given that I work from home it can be difficult. If I happen to catch a glimpse of my laptop after I put my girls to bed, it can be tempting to log on and write another blog post, send a few follow-up emails, or just get a head start on tomorrow’s workload. I have had to implement a few guardrails on business—no work except client meetings on the weekend, no work emails before 9:30 a.m. or after 5:30 p.m., and no constant checking of Twitter or Instagram (major parts of my marketing strategy). This has allowed me to give my brain a rest and to be more present with my family and friends.
This is not the type of profession where you get the certification and you’ve officially “made it.” I remember when I first passed the CFP® exam. I felt like I had officially arrived and was an expert. Boy, has it been a humbling few years. You will constantly be learning in this profession and will eat humble pie for lunch almost every day. Get comfortable with always being a student, always finding a new area to learn about, and never knowing everything there is to know on any given topic. Clients are okay with you saying, “That’s an interesting idea or question. Let me do some research and get back to you to ensure I give you the right information.”