On my run down the beach this morning, it dawned on me that I seldom look at how far it is to the finish anymore. I remember when I started running I was always looking to see how far I had to go. I also remember how discouraging it was each time I looked up to see the majority of my run ahead of me. This led to thinking things like, “can I really make it?” or if I couldn’t see all the way to the finish wondering, “Is the route clear or should I maybe look for another one?” The latter inspiring a feeling of indecision.
Of course everything has a financial planning connotation to me because as Conor McGregor says, “you have to go a little crazy for your craft.” Not that I have ever seen a UFC Fight, but his persona has transcended the sport and I find that I relate to some of the things he says about what it took to get there.
The planning connotation: there is a time to plan and there is a time to act. The two activities should never occupy the same mental space simultaneously. If you are trying to do both at the same time, at best you are unprepared. At worst you are thinking and rethinking every critical action which will slow your progress if not stop you entirely.
In the planning phase the focus should be on looking ahead, clearly identifying what you want to accomplish, the appropriate action steps and how you will measure progress toward them. Only when the planning phase is complete is it time to act.
In action you are simply carrying out the steps you identified as critical to achieving your goal in the planning stage. In the action phase it is not time to rethink or create a new course of action. Sure, from time to time course corrections may be required and you have to be aware if the ultimate goal changes, but if you are constantly rethinking and changing tactics with every action, you don’t really have a plan.
In my running analogy, I start out with my destination; figure out the route I want to take to get there and then focus on each step. I always finish. I would do so no faster by constantly looking for the finish line and certainly not rethinking every step along the way. The same is true for a financial plan. As long as you are thoughtful in articulating where you want to go, know the appropriate action steps to get there and are committed to doing the work, you will certainly arrive at your destination.
Just like the right coach can make all the difference in your run times, working with the right financial planner can significantly improve the efficiency in reaching your goals.