Yogi Berra, once said:
If you don’t know where you are going, you are certain to end up somewhere else”. In a planning sense if you don’t know where you are going, how will you know when you get there? To have no goals and no points of measure to track progress or lack thereof, you are setting yourself up to fail. God, Himself, designed for us to have goals that coincide with His Word: “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.
(Proverbs 16:3 NIV)
God gives us the authority and responsibility of setting goals and offers to provide direction to those who are willing to listen. Few, however, set goals. Those that do are often much more successful than those who do not. It is not only important to set goals but to review them daily and track progress or make adjustments regularly. Flying by the seat of your pants, rarely works out well. Sitting still does not either.
It doesn’t matter if you’re on the right track; if you’re sitting still you get run over
– Will Rogers
A lack of clearly defined goals is not only foolish, it is irresponsible. Do you remember Alice in Wonderland? Do you remember when Alice was talking to the Cat? Here is the conversation,
” Cheshire Puss,….Would you tell me please, which way I ought to go from here?” “That depends on where you want to get to”, said the Cat. “I don’t much care where”, said Alice. “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go”, said the Cat. “So long as I get SOMEWHERE” Alice added as an explanation. “Oh, you’re sure to do that”, said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough”.
– Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Each Action has a Reaction
You cannot correct all financial problems overnight. A good plan will allow you to achieve short term and long term goals you once believed to be impossible. But you have work at them. There are no get-rich quick strategies that will get you where you are today to where you strive to be in the future. However each step you take in the right direction will be a step closer toward achieving your goals and achieving God’s will.
A funny question: “How do you eat an elephant?” Of which an acceptable response is “One bite at a time”. If you tried to swallow it whole, it would be impossible, but when cut into pieces is more probable. As with a financial goal, by breaking it down, looking at the problems, identifying possible solutions, then implementing a solid strategy, and monitoring the plan, you will be able to gage your progress and make adjustments along the way.
One of the best analogies I give regarding a financial plan is to illustrate a navigation system for a car. If you ever have seen how these work. It is quite simple. You plug in where you want to go – the city, state, street name, and street number. It then can calculate the best possible way to get there: avoid highways if you wish, avoid toll roads, take the fastest way, take the shortest mileage route, just to name a few of the options. Once you are on the road, a guided voice will tell you to take a left or right when needed and which roads to travel. One of the best features you will see is when you take a wrong turn. The system will recalculate the route, adjust, then provide new directions as to where you should go.
Just like with your financial plan. You may be on track today, but then tomorrow something changes: you lose a job, you retire, someone unexpected gets sick, you inherit money, whatever the change, you need to gage where you are at that moment financially, look at the adjustments needed, find new or evaluate all of the existing strategies and possibly implement a new course of action. Financial planning is not a one stop, set it and forget it process. It is a process that evolves over time as your life changes.
The tortoise wins the race!
Sometimes we want things to progress faster than possible. Having a solid plan and reaching your goals takes time. Slow and steady is the name of the game. Consistency is a key concept. Just like the tortoise who wins with the steady approach, you too need to develop habits, change your mindset, and take the necessary steps to achieve your goals.
Having a co-pilot along the way to nudge you when you are feeling down is always a breath of fresh air. Anyone considering retirement should form a team:
- Certified Financial Planner (CFP)
- Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
Positions 3, 4, and 5 are interchangeable and of equal importance as it relates to value. I do not recommend doing these on your own and I highly recommend finding professionals who share your values and faith. To find such a professional check out www.kingdomadvisors.org and www.nacfc.com. If you have mechanic skills go work on your car, but don’t experiment on your financial future.