A very wise person once said, “Have a plan-work a plan!” It was his motto.
He believed that nothing meaningful could be accomplished without carefully tracing your steps back from the desired outcome to the action steps needed to arrive. No matter the goal –from improving his golf score to his financial life — his motto always made sense.
When it comes to your life, having a B.H.A.G. (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) is critical. Your B.H.A.G. adds color, vibrancy, and purpose to your actions.
Where too many people trip up is in the steps necessary to move in that direction. Having a big, wonderful vision of a life you imagine is a perfect place to begin; and what follows is just as important.
Let’s say you are burdened with school loans or credit card debt that is making your life terrible. Perhaps you even put yourself in a state of monk-like denial in order to work off the red.
Climbing that mountain to pay off the loans doesn’t have to be an exercise in misery. By creating a meaningful but balanced approach, you can pay off the debt and not feel crunched for cash.
Your goal is your goal, but the way there should not be drenched in despair.
You might dream of a more lavish lifestyle, but you see this vision as far into the future. You could scrap it and embrace failure or you could, as Stephen Covey says, “begin with the end in mind” and gather relevant information about your goal to start making measured, meaningful steps.
Surround yourself with purpose and make decisions that bring you closer to, rather than farther away, from your ultimate destination.
The fact is, you are the author of your life’s plan and you have the power and, indeed, the obligation to make it a reality. This is the intersection where the alignment between your values and your actions meet. You might be a certain weight and wear certain size clothing, but if you take in more calories than you expend, chances are, you won’t reach your goal (unless it is actually to gain weight).
Matching thoughts and actions can be challenging because there are a multitude of factors that can distract, delay, or disassemble your goals.
The first is your Money Mindset. If your mindset doesn’t support your vision, you must understand that concept first and then seek changes that put you on the right track.
The second is unforeseen circumstances which might include job loss, disability, making financial mistakes (think speculation or other financial decisions that can lead to dire outcomes). These “unforseens” can forestall or derail even the best conceived plan, unless you take the time to consider a viable and meaningful Plan B.
Your Plan B is the pathway to an alternative that you can live with, even if it’s not your ideal. There are too many retirees who expected to travel extensively and live an active lifestyle for the remainder of their years, only to be hit with a sudden medical issue that leaves them unable to fulfill their expectations; a formula for depression and sadness.
It’s great to expect the life according to your vision; but it might be foolish to believe that no other possibility exists. You can only control what you can control, which is, unfortunately a short list as follows:
1. Your mindset
2. Your behavior
3. Your habits
That’s pretty much it.
The counter are the things you cannot control. For example:
1. The stock market
2. Interest rates/Inflation
3. Government tax policy
4. Politics/Global conflicts
5. The actions of anyone other than yourself
6. The weather
Need I go on?
When it comes to your money life and moving towards your preferred future, acknowledge that there are many uncontrollables that can impact your plan. While those wildcard events can create challenges, don’t use those unknowns as a reason to not tend to what you can control. For example:
1. Have a properly conceived financial plan that connects your life and your money.
2. Work with professionals that have your best interest first and foremost.
3. Avoid strategies that don’t make sense to or for you.
4. Establish healthy habits.
5. Build/join a community that is important to you.
6. Improve your mind and continue to learn and grow.
7. Understand the values that are most important to you and others in your life.
8. Work at something that adds to your life’s purpose.
9. Appreciate relationships.
As you work your way to living the life you cherish, don’t forget to have-a-plan and work-a-plan. It takes time, thought and effort, but, hey, isn’t your life worth it?