5 Critical Steps to Take Before Retirement – Step 1

As a financial strategist and retirement planning specialist for more than four and a half decades, I’ve helped many people prepare for retirement by optimizing their assets and minimizing taxes. 

With that much experience under my belt, I can usually look at somebody’s tax return or six numbers on a financial statement, and within two minutes I can tell where they are at financially, how much of a fortune they’re missing out on, what they know, what they obviously don’t know, and perhaps most critically—how long their money’s going to last in retirement. 

But I’ve often found that what is obvious to me is not so obvious to up-and-coming retirees. They assume things will be fine in retirement. They assume they’re farther along the path toward an abundant future than they are, because they don’t know how to read the entire map.

And that’s the first step in preparing for retirement—understanding the truth of where you actually are, then identifying where you need to go from here.


If you think about it, when you are about to go on a road trip for the very first time, what’s the most important piece of information you need to know? Most people blurt out: Where you’re going … or how to get there. Nope. 

When using a GPS, it uses triangulation. And it does that by honing in on three out of about 32 satellites that orbit this Earth for that very purpose. Once it has clarity on where you are within two square feet on this globe, then you program in where you want to go. From there,  your GPS will show you all kinds of ways to get to your desired destination: the freeway, the scenic way, the byway, and also where to refuel your car or yourself en route.

Now, when people ask me, Doug, what is it that you like to do? I enthusiastically respond I like to be the OnStar button on people’s dashboard of life. You see, I like to help people get extremely clear on where they are in every area or dimension of their life, and then get clarity on where they want to go. Then the path to get to their desired destination can be easily mapped out, charting how to live the life they want to lead.


Now, a very good friend of mine, Strategic Coach Dan Sullivan, told me one day, “All progress begins by telling the truth.” I would add to that: “…telling the truth to yourself.” (Sometimes, the hardest person to tell the truth to is yourself.) 

As part of an online master class I lead, I pass out a scorecard on an 11” x 17” sheet of paper. The 3 Dimensional Wealth Scorecard is pivotal in helping people answer that critical first question: “Where are you, truthfully, in your 3 Dimensional Wealth journey?” 

The first five areas of the scorecard have to do with what I teach during the first portion of the Retire by Design workshops: the Financial Dimension. These include principles like liquidity, safety, rate of return, tax advantages, and creating a KASH generator. (I’ll show you what KASH means here in a moment.) 

The next five areas of the scorecard focus on the other 2 Dimensions of what I call Authentic Wealth, the Foundational and Intellectual Dimensions. These principles include abundance versus scarcity mindsets, responsibility and accountability, equal opportunity instead of equal distribution to your heirs, and creating a family Values & Vision document (what I would call an ethical will).

[Find out your 3 Dimensional Wealth Score—check out the scorecard in “The LASER Fund” book (Section II, p. 13). You can order your free copy of the book today at LASERFund.com; just pay shipping and handling.]


To explain further about the 3 Dimensions of Authentic Wealth:

  • The Financial Dimension – When we say the word “assets,” what kinds of things do most people think of? People will respond with: your house, other real estate, your cash, your stocks, your bonds. All true, but that’s when I point out those assets are just in the Financial Dimension.  
  • The Foundational Dimension – When I ask people, “What are the most important assets that you value, that you cherish, that you possess on this Earth?” Now most people talk about their family, their relationships, and their health. These are human assets; they involve people—I call these the Foundational Assets. This dimension also includes such things as your heritage, your charitable foundations, your talents, and so forth. 
  • The Intellectual Dimension – There’s a third dimension of Authentic Wealth that involves the wisdom that we gain throughout our lives. Wisdom is a product of knowledge times what? Experiences. Just the good ones? Nope. If you’re like me, you’ve actually learned as much or more from the bad experiences as well as the good. I call this dimension the Intellectual Dimension, and it also includes your formal education, your methods, systems, traditions, alliances, ideas, and skills. 

These are the 3 Dimensions of Authentic Wealth, and they provide balance in your life just like the three legs of a stool (which would topple if there were only one or two legs).

Now this is where I often ask my audiences: “If you had to let go of one of these three categories of assets (Financial, Foundational, or Intellectual), but you could keep the other two and transfer them along to future generations, which would you keep? Which one could you stand to go bankrupt in and start over? Abundant-minded people immediately say, “Well, the money.”

Why? They understand that you can rebuild the Financial Dimension using the other two. 


But—isn’t it interesting that traditional estate and financial planning in this country seems to focus on the least important category on the family balance sheet, the money. 

At 3 Dimensional Wealth, we focus on all three dimensions. Using the analogy of the three-legged stool, I find that too many people are wobbling on one leg: money. They accumulate their wealth at the expense of their health. Later in life, they’re spending all their wealth trying to regain their health. Or they accumulate their financial wealth with expensive relationships with their spouse, their kids, their grandkids, or their God. Not very wise, right? 

This is why at 3 Dimensional Wealth, we believe it’s more important that values are understood before the assets are valued

I delve into these topics in the online Entitlement Abolition Master Class. I show why it’s more important to leave behind KASH than cash. Why? You want to make sure you’re empowering your posterity to thrive in all 3 Dimensions of Authentic Wealth. 

Turning to another analogy: If you were going to be playing in a golf tournament and you had the choice of using a professional golfer like Phil Mickelson’s swing, or you could use his clubs, what would you choose?

I’d rather have his swing, not the clubs. 

But I’ve noticed that most financial advisors focus on the clubs (or the commodity). They say, oh, buy this stock or bond or mutual fund or gold or silver. But Authentic Wealth in the Financial Dimension is not in the commodity, it’s in the strategy. 

I’ve also noticed that many estate planning attorneys seem to focus on dividing up the golf clubs and the trophies among the kids and grandkids when you die. However, I’d rather leave behind the swing, empowering my posterity to be self-reliant, to develop their own Authentic Wealth in all 3 Dimensions. 

In the Entitlement Abolition Master Class, I explain why traditional estate planning is not advantageous. When your trust is merely divided equally and dumped in your kids and grandkids’ laps, it can ruin them. When wealth is transferred without a system that fosters responsibility and accountability, it instead fosters an entitlement mentality. Equal distribution is not the fairest way to treat those you care about; it’s a false belief pattern. 

In the master class, I demonstrate the truth of what Abraham Lincoln said, “The worst thing you can do for those you love is the things they can do for themselves.” I also illustrate what Robert Frost meant when he said, “Every affluent father wishes he knew how to give his sons the hardships that made him rich.”

But the challenge is, our tendency is to rescue our kids, rather than allowing them to struggle and strive. You cannot believe how many successful people tell me their story of how they went from rags to riches, and they boast that their kids will never have to work as hard as they did. 

Then 10, 20, or 30 years later, they come back after their adult children have had to move back home. They say, “Doug, I don’t know what’s going on. My kids don’t even know how to work.” And I often say, “Well, maybe you stole that from them.”

Instead, equal opportunities are better than equal distribution. 


So the first of five critical steps that everybody ought to take before retiring is to understand where you are today, where you want to go with your retirement tomorrow, and how you will pass on all 3 Dimensions of Authentic Wealth for the future.


Rethink Your Retirement & Your Legacy – With the Entitlement Abolition strategies, you’ll discover 1) how to harness the power of 3 Dimensions of Authentic Wealth; 2) how to make deposits and withdrawals in your family’s Legacy Bank; and 3) how to rethink your thinking—and how to help your children do the same. Learn how to transform your family’s legacy—order the “Entitlement Abolition” book free (and just pay for shipping & handling). Explore the concepts in-depth by joining in the online Entitlement Abolition Master Class.

Watch the Video – Watch the related YouTube video to see me explain “5 Critical Steps to Take Before Retirement – Step 1” (and while you’re there, be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel so you don’t miss a thing!).

Elevate Your Financial Dimension – Find out how you can improve your Financial Dimension journey and seize the liquidity, safety, predictable rates of return, and tax advantages of a LASER Fund. Explore the in-depth financial strategies and learn from real-life client experiences by claiming your free copy of “The LASER Fund” book at LASERFund.com. Just pay for shipping and handling, and we will send it to you, absolutely free.

Join a Webinar – Want to find out if a LASER Fund (a maximum-funded, properly structured indexed universal life insurance policy) is right for you? Join us for an upcoming webinar where you can explore these strategies. 

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