The past year has been a good reminder that life can and will change; in fact, when it comes right down to it, change may be the only “constant” in our lives.
Looking at my own life, I’ve certainly experienced how life, priorities, and timelines can change overnight. For better or worse, our journey through life is rarely as linear as we expect it will be.
Don’t get me wrong: planning for the future is a critical part of our work. But it’s also important to remember that even the best-laid financial plans are just that… plans. Our lives change over time, and so do we. It is impossible to know if the things that we value, cherish, or prioritize today will be the same five, ten, or twenty years from now.
These countless unknowns can make long-term planning feel like a daunting (maybe worthless) task, one that is almost impossible to perform accurately… and that’s because it is! The truth is, there is no such thing as a perfect plan, and even a plan that is perfect for you today will still need to be modified, adjusted, and refined over time.
Effective planning doesn’t mean you need the perfect plan; rather, it means creating a strategic plan that you allow to evolve and change as your life does. Adaptability is key, and if we let perfection stand in the way of progress, it will limit what’s possible over the long run.
Think of it like a road trip from New York to California. It’s important to map out the broad strokes of the journey before you hit the road, but printing out turn-by-turn directions for the entire trip could actually hinder you. Things will invariably come up on your trip: a road will be closed and you’ll need to find an alternate route, or your priorities will change and you’ll decide to take a detour to visit a landmark that you didn’t know existed when you started the trip.
As long as you know the general direction of travel and you’re moving in the right direction, you’ll reach your destination — and that’s the most important part. The key is that you have a plan and you are working toward your goals, even if those goals are not crystal clear.
This is how we view planning for our clients. We want to sit in the passenger seat and help you navigate your journey. We will create the best plan for your life today, but this plan needs regular attention to ensure you are still on the best route and that we are still heading in the right direction – similar to your Google Maps. We will give you real time direction that helps you adapt for things on the horizon or travel down a different and more meaningful path. Most importantly, we can help you stick with your strategic plan when the road gets rough.
I think Rod Stewart can offer us all some good advice – “Life is so brief and time is a thief when you’re undecided.” Continuous progress and improvement is better than delayed perfection! Your future self will thank you.