Why is it that 97 percent of the population is unable to retire at a desired income? You can think all day about retirement, but if you don’t take action, your dreams will go nowhere. Having worked with people for more than 50 years, I’ve learned that there are often three roadblocks that get in the way of planning your future—the context of your life, complacency and failure to set goals. Let’s take a look at each, and see what can be done to make changes to make sure your future turn out the way you want.
The context of your life
Context determines how you see the world. If you believe everything is always against you, that’s what you’ll get. Do you see the process as hard? If so, that’s what you get. On the other hand, if you see the universe as always supporting you, that works out as well.
When people seek financial advice, they usually have a problem that needs a solution. How they see the problem is typically part of the problem, but it can also be part of the solution. By changing their outlook, sometimes the solution comes easier. I often assist clients through conversation about where they’re at and where they want to go. Together, we review the situation and provide a possible new look at the future. It’s also a good idea to do some research. Take time to learn how someone achieved his or her goal and use that as a personal guide. Look for people with big ideas that will motivate you to keep going.
Consider your future—look ahead to the next 5 years. Where do you want your salary or earnings level to be? The more time you have, the easier it is to set small easy steps for increased savings assets. Remember to buy appreciating assets, not depreciating assets. Visualize by looking at others who have achieved what you would like to be one day. Also, set action goals, and start with small repeatable actions today that have large payoffs in the future vs. consequences tomorrow. Create ongoing benchmarks to help you along, like road signs, making it easier to find your target goals.
It’s all about manaña—do it later—but if you take on a let’s-wait-and-see approach, pretty soon, it’s forever. And one day, you’re faced with a retirement that’s not so inviting.
Start out each morning with a win before you go out of the house, you’ll handle the day much better. I do stretches and other exercises before I shower. I keep track of the results every day. Remember what gets recorded, gets done. The day is always better when I’ve hit a new record with my pushups. Take time in silence and let the universe speak to you. You’ll find the internal guidance that will be golden. Everyone needs this guidance. Don’t wake up with the radio. Instead, let your morning unfold with those internal thoughts coming into your mind as action items leading to wins. Do you check your 401k statements? If not start doing so and learn about all your investment options, then your plan could get a better return. Do you write down goals? Create a journal about your financial thinking, goals and journal each day about your results and the future.
Without a goal, any road will get you there, so start with the end in mind. Work backward from that goal to the next indicator, then backward again until you get to today. Then, start to take the small steps that will keep your momentum going through each intermediate point. Though it may feel difficult, you could add another 1 percent to your 401k contribution, or plan on adding another $25 per month into a mutual fund account. Start easy and add as you feel comfortable with your process. Do you need coaching? Meet with an expert, such as a financial planner for assistance.
Remember, the people who persist, always win, sometimes it just takes longer. Edison did 10,000 trials of materials before he got the right combination for a light bulb. Elon Musk did the outrageous, and started a new car company, electric at that. While he still hasn’t fully gotten to scale, he has proven the concept and others are trying to copy his process. Maybe your goals are not as audacious as his, but your goals are critical to your future. And don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Fail fast, and fail forward.
Remember, each step you take is part of a whole process to get you to the future. If you don’t take steps now, then like a ship without a rudder, you’re at the mercy of the wind, fate and what everyone else wants from you. Be the master of your own ship and take charge. Think, plan, take action and do it now. Your future depends on it.
Chuck Root is a Certified Financial Planner® with and Securities Offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC as well as a Registered Investment Advisor and Founder of Double Eagle Financial. He has more than 50 years of experience in financial planning. This article is not an offer to buy or sell securities. Offer only from a valid prospectus. The opinions expressed are those of the author only and should not be construed as financial advice.
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