Thinking is scary, planning is worse!
Written by Trevor Keidan on April 21, 2014.
Travelling on business can be laborious and trying but one advantage is that it does give one time to think and reflect. So, sitting on a plane today as I flew to China, I started thinking about how I was reaching the half way mark in my life. I wrestled with this thought, being tossed from waves of sadness at how it had all passed me by so quickly and on to waves of happiness and admiration for what I have so far achieved. I have a wonderful wife and an amazing son. I am happy, getting healthy again and, in reality, I am at the peak of my life. So why the sadness?
I am sure that we all go through this from time to time. When we are young and in our teens we have the world stretched out before us. We are free from worry, full of plans and hopelessly idealistic with good intentions to take over the world, to make a difference and to achieve everything everyone could wish for. The reality, ah the reality, now that's a very different thing!
This thought brought me back to financial planning and why I do what I do. Quite simply, as a financial planning consultant, and particularly as the owner of such a business, I am driven by the very fact that we can positively influence the lives of our clients and their families. But our job comes with a whole host of responsibility, and we should not forget this.
As a young teenager, planning for the future was not quite at the front of my mind! Having fun, partying, enjoying life and seeing the world – that was where my mind was. Today I don’t preach what I practiced, in fact I do the exact opposite and encourage young adults to start taking financial responsibility. I advise them to start saving, putting their pennies away as early as they can, a habit I know that they will not regret. I’m not a total killjoy! Moderation is the key. By all means live life to the full and enjoy it, but don’t blow everything. Save as well because that one thing can absolutely transform their lives.
What is it about my current situation which scares me?
Well, I only have half my life left, if I’m lucky - that scares me! My son is 3 years old and will go to university when I am in my mid 50’s – that scares me! I may not be alive to see my son get married - that doesn't scare me but it does sadden me. I have another 14 years of schooling to fund and then, with luck, university - that REALLY scares me!
I cannot change any of this, it is fact, but what I can do is plan. For many of us planning is scary. It makes us want to forget, to become veritable ostriches, surrounded by our fellow flock members, heads firmly in the sand, bottoms sticking out in the air! This is not an elegant sight, nor is it the most sensible response to a challenge.
So I did what I needed to, I pulled my head out the sand, I faced up to the facts and I began to plan. Planning isn’t tough and it doesn’t need to be scary, but it does require momentum and that's where your financial planner comes in. He or she provides the momentum for you to actually pull your head out the sand, listen, acknowledge and take action. Speak to yours now, and if you don’t have one, get one!
I did and I certainly feel better about it. I feel better about my life, I feel better about the fact that my family are provided for, regardless of what the world throws at me. I feel better knowing that whatever happens to me in the future, my son will have all the best opportunities available to him because I have a financial plan in place.
As a final note it is worth pointing out that although I am a financial planning professional myself, I too need a fellow professional to focus on my needs as I am far too busy worrying about my clients and trying to navigate the complicated world of international finances, complicated client documentation, anti-money laundering requirements, FATCA and all the other hoops that the modern day world has for me to jump through.