Continuing Education

Start with a Plan: Life Planning for You and Those You Love

Poet Mary Oliver once asked, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” It is a question instructor Dan Kennedy, with or without equal lyricism, plans to put to students joining his course Life Planning for You and Those You Love.

ImageKennedy has been a professional personal coach and trainer for over twenty years, conducting hundreds of presentations, workshops and seminars from AARP to Campbell Soup Company. Though he had reached numerous social groups, he still wondered if there was a particular cohort he had overlooked. He found he needed to look no further than his own generation. “If I ever want inspiration, I go to my local Barnes & Noble and wander the aisles,” he says. “Sooner or later a title will catch my eye and I’ll start reading. So, there I went and sure enough, it wasn’t long before a title snagged my attention: Live Smart After 50! The Experts’ Guide to Life Planning for Uncertain Times published by a group called the Life Planning Network.” Kennedy says he could not resist picking up the book and reading it. 

“It was the perfect book for me and my work! I liked its uplifting and advice-filled message. Then I decided to check out the Life Planning Network on their site www.LifePlanningNetwork.org. I saw that they are ‘A community of professionals from diverse disciplines dedicated to helping people redesign and navigate the second half of life.’ Sounded good to me and today I am the only Washington State member…for now!”

Kennedy says the Life Planning process starts with students taking a good, long look at their lives through a tool called The Life Planning Wheel. “(It) parses our lives into wedges titled ImageLegacy, Finances, Caregiving, etc.  I ask everyone to mark on their wheel how prepared they are in each section and then we do a deep dive and discuss each topic,” he says. “Now, I am not a financial planner, lawyer or gerontologist. I’m a coach, so my job is to help the participants decide which parts of their lives need more planning and then to commit to a course of action to actually do the planning either by themselves or with the right professionals after they leave.  I actually teach everyone how to coach each other toward doing what they need to do to create the plans they need to have.”

The Life Planning process has many insightful and exciting facets. “Part of the workshop has each person begin the process of discovering and looking at their personal values and life purpose,” says Kennedy. “(Students) then use those insights to help guide their planning Imageprocesses. (Sometimes your purpose in life and core values aren’t readily apparent so participants take home exercises they can use to discover these things later.) Helping to launch that discovery process for them is especially fulfilling.”

Students can look forward to refining any preexisting plans for the future, as well as building a plan from whole cloth. “We look at 10 different parts of our lives and how they need planning for,” says Kennedy. “Those in the workshop look at how prepared they are in each part then focus on how to plan for the ones that are important and need more attention. Money is a big issue as we age and so looking at how to continue working into our 70s is a powerful trend.”

As a workshop, the ideas discovered and pursued during Life Planning for You and Those You Love will also hinge on the shared input of those in attendance. “A cool thing about this event is that we acknowledge that each of our lives has many facets,” says Kennedy.  "Some of those facets are calling us to do parts of our lives in a new ways—postponing retirement, for example. Others, like deciding where we will live going forward, may have us actually acknowledge that we are going to stay where we are and plan to make modifications to our living spaces accordingly.”

Kennedy looks forward to helping those over 50 write new, exciting chapters to their lives with those they love.

Learn more about Life Planning for You and Those You Love.