Throughout my life, I have often had a list of goals toward which I was working. Whether physical, academic, relational, financial, or something else, I am naturally inclined to have something mentally or physically before me that helps me with current decision making and work that I’m doing.
As a result of this natural inclination and the fruit I have seen in my own personal life, I have an increased respect, appreciation and commitment to the planning process in the lives of the clients that our firm takes care of.
Furthermore, As I have gotten older and worked with many different clients, I have seen how planning curtails some specific temptations we all may face at one time or another. Below, I have listed four common temptations I see in my office and the benefit that a plan has in addressing each of them.
TEMPTATION: FEAR OF MAKING A DECISION
In our culture there is an over abundance of options available to us. I believe that this overabundance can make it difficult to make decisions and determine what you want. Some of this difficulty is founded in fear. We fear deciding because we do not want to miss out on a better alternative we may learn about later. Unfortunately, this approach can have a reverse effect of keeping someone from making any progress at all because they are fearful something better will always come along.
BENEFIT OF A PLAN #1:PLANNING HELPS YOU DETERMINE WHAT YOU WANT, MAKE PROGRESS, AND ADJUST IF NECESSARY.
TEMPTATION: COMPARING YOURSELF TO ANOTHER’S SITUATION
Often in our office a client will say, “I am just not as far along as others my age,” or ask, “how am I doing for my age?” I believe that planning is much more than financial. And, while someone may not have accumulated assets like another, most of those I have worked with are truly seeking peace of mind and joy, and their financial situation can contribute to that. When we determine a plan of action, someone can see progress made in their own personal situation, and they achieve peace of mind and joy in their financial life, most people are less likely to be disappointed or concerned because they have not accumulated like someone else they may know. Instead, their personal planning allows them to create the best situation for themselves and avoid comparison to others actual or perceived situation.
BENEFIT OF A PLAN #2: PLANNING HELPS YOU STAY FOCUSED ON YOUR SITUATION AND NOT COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS.
TEMPATION: ANXIETY DURING MARKET VOLATILITY
I believe a plan plays its largest role when things get difficult. When markets turn downward, a lot us get anxious. In my conversations during a downturn in the market, I make it a point to often review a client’s plan to ensure we’re still on track. When I do this, a client is able to “see the forest from the trees” and is reminded of the big picture. After this, anxiety often lowers or is illiminated altogether. One term I use often is “it’s always something.” Whether it is a trade war with China, North Korean Missile testing, threatening U.S. recession, or some other significant world issue, it will always be something over the course of our accumulating and retirement years. A plan helps you stay focused and lowers anxiety especially when things get difficult.
BENEFIT OF A PLAN #3: PLANNING HELPS YOU STAY FOCUSED ON THE BIG PICTURE WHEN THE MARKET IS VOLATILE AND THINGS SEEM DIFFICULT
TEMPATION: CONFUSION BY THE MANY VOICES TELLING YOU WHAT TO DO
In the financial industry I have seen how it can be incredibly confusing for a client to determine what they should actually be doing to prepare for retirement. From radio shows to billboard ads, expensive dinners and very educational and compelling seminars, every advisor has his or her idea of the way a client should act and prepare for retirement. This overabundance of voices can be confusing and keep someone from making progress in their personal situation. I believe the items a client needs to focus on include 1.) finding an advisor you have chemistry with and respect, 2.) create a plan your excited and confident about for your retirement, and 3.) decide on the appropriate investments that will help you accomplish goals found in your plan. Once the decision of advisor and plan has been made, it should be an extremely rare situation that you change advisors or rewrite a new plan.
BENEFIT OF A PLAN #4: PLANNING HELPS YOU SIMPLIFY YOUR SITUATION AND STAY FOCUSED WHEN THINGS GET CONFUSING
Planning can have a significant impact on our lives. Having a plan can help you focus and make progress on those things that are most important to you. Furthermore, planning can keep you and me free from some very common temptations. In my experience, the above items are a few of the temptations that advisors and clients can minimize or avoid by planning appropriately and remaining faithful and focused over time.