Got a big decision to make? Not sure which direction to turn? Consult with your wise advisory council to get the guidance you need.
A wise council is a group of three to five members whose opinions you respect. They’re role models in their behavior, choices and knowledge. You listen carefully to what they say.
Wise councils serve an invaluable need. When we use them, we feel supported. We know we’re not alone. We get help with our major issues. Social connections are strengthened.
Creating a personal advisory council is similar to joining a support group. Both connect us to others in similar situations. Both provide support and information.
But wise councils are less formal. They’re tailored to fit our needs. They’re composed of people we respect. We can use them as we see fit.
Personal councils work best when we select members from a wide range of skills and ages. Start with a few contemporaries whom you trust and admire. Pick emotionally stable friends who have made good choices about relationships, careers and finances.
Next, add someone from another age group who has a different perspective on life. This person might be abeloved family member or a favorite aunt. It could be a neighbor who has watched you grow up, even the parent of a good friend who’s been like a mom or dad.
Finally, add folks with relevant professional backgrounds to the mix. You may be related, for example, to an uncle who is also a financial adviser or a sister-in-law who happens to be a nurse. The person could also be a rabbi or dear friend who’s a retired teacher.
Once you’ve identified potential members, ask each individually whether he or she would like to be involved. The process needn’t be formal. A simple, “Roger, I’ve always admired how you and Clara taught your kids about money. I was wondering if I could occasionally pick your brain about that.” Most people are flattered by the compliment and only too willing to help.
Use your wise council sparingly. You don’t want to be a pest. Call and ask a quick question on an as-needed basis. Go out to an occasional lunch (you pay, of course!). Or take a hike so the two of you can talk.
If you require more than occasional guidance, hire professional help. Wise councils only support from the sidelines. The heavy lifting is up to you.
Adapt your council as needed. You may choose people familiar with Alzheimer’s disease or who are raising twins. You might even have more than one council, addressing specific issues with each.
Wise councils aren’t a one-way street. Make yourself available to mentor others whenever you can.
And even though you request and process others’ input, the ultimate decision is up to you.
HOW TO MAKE GOOD USE OF YOUR WISE COUNCIL
Identify one specific topic. Your clarity directs the process and ferrets out the advice you want.
Be prepared. Gather information before talking with your council. Outline where you still need guidance.
Reach out to appropriate council members. Decide the best way to connect. Phone calls might be sufficient in some cases. Longer conversations may be needed in others.
Respect their time. These folks are doing you a favor. Avoid wasting their time by rambling or being disorganized.
It’s OK to disagree. You’re only asking council members for their opinions. You don’t have to do what they say.
Don’t overthink. Listen to your council’s input. Process what they say. Then make the best decision you can and move on to something else.