In these articles and with my clients, I hound on the importance of having a plan for the future. A plan gives us direction and clarity even in turbulent times. And especially for major things such as retirement, a plan makes all the difference.
But that being said, I think it is valuable to remember this famous war-time quote: “No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy”. And while retirement is not a war (even if it feels like one), the same principle applies. We may have the most detailed and specific retirement plan in the world but the moment something changes, whether it is inflation, tax rates or a market crash, most plans go out the window. All the assumptions that the plan was based on have now changed and the plan becomes worthless.
But my hope is not to discourage planning. Planning is still incredibly important – but not for the plan’s sake. When we plan, we actively think and prepare for the future. We ponder on what options are available and what makes the most sense. We weigh pros and cons to then make the best decisions that we can.
And then things change. And things will change because change is the only guarantee we have. And when things change, our plan may go out the window but because we have already gone through the planning process, we are well equipped to choose between the new set of alternatives. We have already decided on what is important to us and we are able to build a new plan that realigns us with our goals.
Where people get into trouble is when they never take the time to think deeply about the future and educate themselves on what is out there. And because they are not proactively preparing for the future, they are tossed around with every change that comes their way. Instead of deciding where they want to go and constantly working and adjusting to get there, they are passively waiting for life to happen to them.
But the good news (and the bad news) is that we are all a blend of the prepared and the unprepared. In some areas of our life, we may be on top of the world and five steps ahead of everyone. But in other areas, we may be lagging behind.
In volatile times, plans may be worthless but planning is everything. It is those that plan that are prepared for no matter what comes their way. Whether that be the next tornado, pathogen, or housing crash.
But we all have a new chance every single day. Regardless of where we are at with your relationships, health, or retirement planning, we can all have an opportunity today to be a little better. A little more prepared.
Dallen Haws is a Financial Advisor who is dedicated to helping Federal Employees live their best lives. He loves talking about the security and freedom that a strong financial plan can bring to our lives. He has seen how good information can change everything. You can learn more about him at https://planyourfederalbenefits.com/.