The Practice of Financial Planning

The Practice of Financial Planning

The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction, not a destination

Carl Rogers

Training For a Specific Event

If you have ever participated in an athletic competition you likely have a medal, trophy, or picture to commemorate its completion. This memento is likely on a shelf or in a box somewhere in your home.

Looking at it brings fond memories of what you achieved along with all the training and hard work you put in leading up to the event. You were possibly in the best physical shape of your life during this time.

Unfortunately, having competed in an event once does not make you fit for life. Even if you never compete again, you must continue to train and remain active if you want to stay in shape. 

Training as a Practice

Events like these can provide people with the motivation to train because there is an end goal they can focus on. After the competition, most people lose the desire to continue training since there isn’t a payoff for their effort.

This mindset is understandable if you treat training as something you do for this one-time thing and not as part of an exercise practice in an overarching fitness journey. In this journey, your goal is to progress and make improvements over-time.

The results of any single event are of minor significance in the grand scheme of things.

Viewing Financial Planning as an Event

If you view planning for retirement through this lens, going through the financial planning process once will not likely create lasting financial security nor ensure you have a successful retirement. This plan is a snapshot of your financial standing at a point in time and recommendations on the general direction you should head from there. 

Financial Planning as a Practice

The real value of financial planning comes when you make planning an iterative process, “a practice”, where you consistently monitor, review, and refine the plan as life unfolds. Any single review of your plan will not provide certain insights into your long-term outcome since it is only one data point.

The more important item is comparing your results over-time to track your progress to see if you are heading in the right direction or if adjustments should be made. With this long-term perspective, minor changes can have a major impact when given time to compound. 

You can make creating a financial plan an event, something that you do once, where you place the resulting binder on a shelf to remind you of its completion. Or you could make financial planning a practice where you regularly review your plan and make informed decisions and adjustments as life plays out.

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