The Client-centred Blog

How do you measure your success when life is completely unpredictable?

If there was one thing we learned in 2020 is that life is unpredictable.

None of us really know what is going to happen in the next hour, day, week, or month, do we?

We can make plans, set goals, have expectations and yet just as we have all recently experienced, we have little control over any of this.

So, how do you thrive and make this year your best yet given that it may turn out completely different to your expectations?

I think the way we measure our success is critical.

The goal line and the soul line

The goal line is the horizontal axis of your life. On this line are your goals and outcomes you move towards.

Who gets to choose what is on your line? You do.

You can aim for whatever you want in life but as we know there are no guarantees, right?

The soul line is the vertical axis of your life. At the top of the soul line are states of mind such as love, joy, and gratitude and at the bottom are states such as worry, blame, and fear, and there is everything else in between.

The soul line is where you live, and you are always somewhere on it.

One of my greatest misunderstandings about how life works was my belief that the goal line and soul line were somehow connected.

I would set a goal and if it looked as though I may fail or things did not seem to be going ‘my way’, then I would get discouraged, disappointed, or stressed.

I used my perception of how I was doing on the goal line as a measure of whether I was being successful or not.

It took me a long time to realise this was a fool’s errand.

The great Alan Watts said:

“Stop measuring days by degree of productivity and start experiencing them by degree of presence.”

Despite the incredible accomplishments of humanity, our highest ever levels of wealth, comfort, and convenience our happiness and mental well-being have not correspondingly improved.


Because we have forgotten how to be present.

We spend vast amounts of time lost in thinking – about the past, the future, ourselves, other people – and in doing so we forget that the only place that life is lived is right here, right now.

You cannot get time back. Once gone its gone.

Success and being fully present are not, as many people seem to believe, mutually exclusive.

They are hand in glove.

If you want to raise your game, create greater business success, experience happiness and inner peace, or whatever matters to you in life, then improving your quality of presence will give you the greatest return.

You cannot think, worry, bully, or stress yourself into having a wonderful life. A wonderful life is not something you work towards; it is something you can only live now.

Let me share a story with you.

Back in February last year whilst out in Phoenix I met fellow coach Devon Bandison.

He shared his experience of going through divorce and how he and his ex-wife remain the best of friends.

How did this happen?

He explained that even though they decided to go their separate ways he made the conscious decision that he was going to be ‘the best ex-husband ever’.

This was the standard he decided to commit to despite whatever he came up against during his divorce and afterwards.

Sometime after their divorce had been finalised, he said that one day, completely unprompted, his ex-wife said to him, “You know, you are the best ex-husband ever!”

My reflection on this was that we all have this capacity – to set the standard for our lives, regardless of external conditions.

It is easy to feel good when things go according to plan, but the unpredictability of life also makes this approach a lottery.

Yet we all have the capability to be fully present in our lives and experience the richness of life now, rather than pinning our happiness and well-being on things we have very little control over.

P.S. How do you break the habit of excessive thinking? This video with Eckhart Tolle has nearly 6.5m views. Click here to view


Leave a Comment

Related articles

Integrity: It is more important than we think 
As professional people we value integrity, right? We like to think of ourselves as being a person of integrity and we want other people to act with integrity towards us. To me, this seems at the very core of trust.
Value creation: the key to happy, loyal clients
This article is about value creation and why it is the key to happy, loyal clients and a thriving practice. Over the past couple of weeks, I have had two services come up for renewal. One was my car breakdown cover and the other was my car insurance. In both cases the premium had increased by almost 30% from last year. So, I rang both providers and invited them to reconsider their offer.
The most dangerous word in the English language
When we think back to when we were little kids, we never knew what limitations were. In fact, to little kids the very idea of a limitation is absurd. Our imaginations knew no boundaries and we lived in a world of pure possibility. You could be a superhero, be invisible, fly, or travel in time like Doctor Who.  As such, life was full of joy, curiosity, and wonder.
The timeless wisdom of Charlie Munger
Charlie Munger (now 99 years young) is a billionaire businessman, vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway and business partner of Warren Buffett, one of the greatest investors of all time. He is asked about the secret to a long and happy life, and he replies: ...
The little understood power of the present moment
In a world where we seem to be so focused upon 'doing' it is so easy to forget that it's our state of mind that determines the quality of our actions, depth of impact, and overall quality of our life experience. For instance, I realised: *To truly connect with other people I had to be fully present with them *To perform better at anything I do then the quality of my attention is the most significant factor *Happiness and contentment are not circumstance dependent; they are a function of how present we are in our lives
Twenty signs you are on the path to truly great financial planning
What is the difference between 'average' financial planners and those who become truly great at what they do? I have been reflecting on this question for a while now and wanted to share my thoughts on this with you. I think it begins with the 'want to'. Do you truly want to become great at what you do?
My favourite Warren Buffett quote and why it matters
Warren Buffett is one of the most successful investors of all time and one of the world’s wealthiest individuals. He also has some very astute observations about life. My favourite is his observation that: 'Busy is the new stupid.' One time he was in discussion with another super successful person, Bill Gates, and they touched upon the subject of productivity.
A simple guide to living in flow
Would you like to spend far more of your time in a state of 'flow'? Flow is the experience of being totally absorbed in the moment, when time seems to stand still, and nothing else seems to matter. I was reading about the legendary tennis player Billie Jean King and how she described her experience of a game...
Why I stopped meditating
Last week I had a wonderful conversation with a friend who has a vast amount of experience as a coach and has worked with thousands of people. She observed that in her experience every single person always wants the same thing in the end. Ultimately, we all want to feel clear minded, present, happy, content, and free from the burden of worry and stress. Who doesn't want more of this?
The most popular client-centred blog posts of 2022
What have financial planners been most interested in over the past year? The following are my most popular client-centred blog posts of 2022. Most importantly, none of this would be possible without you. Thank you for your valuable time and attention - you are very much appreciated.
The 12 client-centred mind shifts - part 4
When 'The Client-centred financial adviser' was published back in 2015 the core message in that book was that who you are being is massively more significant than what you are doing. I even wrote a chapter titled, 'Being is the new doing'. For many years in my own business, I had focused upon doing with no real thought as to how I was being.
5 truths to help financial planners prosper in turbulent times
What prompted this article were a number of conversations I have recently had with financial planners who were worried about the current trading environment.  So, how do financial planners prosper in turbulent times when the economy is contracting, clients are tightening their belts, and media is spreading doom and gloom?
The twelve client-centred mind shifts - part 1
You have worked hard to become a qualified financial professional. You are making a difference in the lives of your clients and your business is steady. This is a big, well-deserved success and there is much to celebrate. Yet at this stage you might also pause, reflect, and ask yourself, “What’s next?”
How to transcend the financial planner comfort zone
Our comfort zone can be very limiting. For instance, it can hold you back from realising your greater potential, making a bigger difference to your clients, and experiencing greater success. So, in this article I explore what a financial planner comfort zone is and what it takes to transcend it. 
How to deal with imposter syndrome
Do you ever feel like an imposter in your role, that you will get 'found out', or do not deserve your success? If so, you are far from alone as this is extremely common amongst business people.
Resilience: An essential key to building a financial planning practice
Have you noticed how resilience has become a hot topic in business? For instance, there are TED talks on it, articles in the Harvard Business Review, and covid brought into sharp focus how unforeseen events can literally change our lives in a moment. This article explores a deeper understanding of resilience and why it is key for building a financial planning practice.
How do you become a great financial planner... not just good?
How do you become a great financial planner? One who has a powerful, positive impact in the lives of your clients? Of course, there are many attributes but one in particular stands out. Read on to discover what this is and why it is so important. What do clients look for in a financial adviser?
Better time management for financial advisers and planners
As a financial planner are you as productive as you would like to be? Would you like to get more done, in less time, and with none of the stress? In this article I am going to explore the hidden factor that leads to genuinely better time management for financial advisers and planners.
Building a financial planning business - overcoming the biggest obstacle
Building a financial planning business is not easy! In fact, you are far from alone if you find it challenging. This article explores one of the biggest obstacles of all and how to rapidly get back on track.
Time management for financial planners - why helpful tips are not the answer
How often have you felt like you had way too much to do, way too little time to do it, and you've stressed out as a result?
To succeed you must have self belief... really?
If you have a goal or outcome that is important to you and you want to go for it, then what does self belief and whether you have it or not have to do with it?