“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
― Abraham Lincoln
Discovering your purpose is thrilling; it’s when that revelation of, “This Is What I Am Born To Do” becomes tangible and real to you.
When we discover our purpose, we will seek out opportunities to fulfil our purpose in life and filter out those where there is not a match. But that’s not necessarily the very first step. The first step is being prepared.
For example, someone once described getting married as marrying the ideal and living out the real. The first thing we need to do is to prepare ourselves to recognise opportunity when it comes along and then step into those opportunities, so they become the reality we hoped for and contribute to purpose.
Whether it’s marriage, our career, our health, raising a family, moving to a new house or investing, the cornerstone is being prepared. In fact, when we are prepared for opportunity, we won’t miss it.
So how do we get prepared for that moment? Well, it’s rather like running and getting fit. It isn’t a one-off adventure, it’s a series of consistent small steps, repeated every day.
So, let’s look at how this might make sense from a runner’s perspective.
Stretching correctly is about looking at yourself physically and seeing what you can achieve. You’re not going to run a marathon on the first run but having an attitude to run the distance is half the battle. The right attitude determines altitude. As you work regularly you’ll become more flexible and your attitude to exercise changes, much like an investment. Budgeting, delayed gratification and adjusting your lifestyle sometimes isn’t always easy but the long-term goal of a comfortable retirement income you cannot out-live or a legacy to be remembered by always outweighs the short-term – and indeed temporary – discomfort.
A few simple, easy walks or runs to start with or a few jumps tell your body that you are going to do something different. Trimming back that regular trip out for coffee and cake and replacing it with orange juice can instantly bring down a headache and unwanted cravings. Slowly introduce the adjustments to your lifestyle and you begin to warm to them. It’s the same with our finances. If you’re, say, 45 now, imagine how setting up automatic monthly investment habits today will make your 65-year-old self, smile on your Financial Independence Day. Just make a start. At this point, the amount however small cannot possibly matter. We’re creating the warm-up habit and getting a baseline.
Know thy self. Know what you are comfortable with. A runner’s fitness is determined by heart rate, amongst other things. As you get fitter it takes more to get your heart rate up. Don’t overstretch yourself in the beginning; watch your capacity to take the exercise you’re contemplating and take advice from a fitness professional and your doctor before you start. It’s a similar approach to financial planning the proper way – don’t overexert yourself to start with, and make sure you have the right people around you to set baselines, nudge boundaries and increase your financial fitness to meet your financial goals.
As you get fitter your timings improve. As your timings improve the opportunities that present themselves are more achievable. You’re ready to step into things that appeared doubtful before. So it is with your goals on your GL Passport – as more are achieved, you reset to the next level on your journey with a new Passport.
Spending time on your fitness is great but also enjoy the time off. Runners who warm down are less prone to injury. When you’ve committed to doing something, warm down. Learn to relax and trust that the choices you have made are taking you closer to where you want to go. It’s the same with your financial plan. The real truth about money is that life is not a rehearsal, so make sure you have the smaller short-term goals as well as the larger long-term goals in place to reward yourself as you go. Take the time on what matters most with who matters most. Know it’s ok to change your mind and change your goals. It’s not their achievement which gives the most satisfaction (although of course, that’s important). The larger benefit is in what goals make of you and what you need to become in the pursuit of them. So, enjoy the personal development and the journey along the way!
Having a trusted personal trainer is important. A personal trainer continues to measure your growth and fitness. Losing the fat and putting on muscle is one thing but having the correct nutrition and working those muscles regularly – and in the right way – is crucial. When it occasionally rains or gets cold, stay the course, don’t throw the trainers away, stay committed. Over time, that initial pain starts to produce the results. Yes, you might have to change your wardrobe as clothes don’t fit as well, but adjusting your lifestyle means the things of the past no longer fit with the future. When your investments are put to work, don’t lose sight of the long-term goal. Investing is one thing; stopping yourself doing the wrong thing at the wrong time for the wrong reasons in response to all the ‘market noise’ is another! But it can and is done. As with a personal trainer, a trusted financial planner will help you behave your way to investment success with joy in your heart.
F.I.T. for living.
Getting fit and staying fit is about the behaviours we choose. You cannot out-exercise a bad diet and you cannot react your way to financial success.
Make sure that those around you can support your choices and realise that changing today really does affect tomorrow. Our choices will either lead us away from or toward our preferred destination.
Over the coming weeks we will be introducing you to a health check so that you can be prepared for your journey, so when the opportunity presents itself to check your status, you’ll be ready. After all, who starts running without changing into the right clothes first?
That’s it for now apart from to extend our usual invitation to you: if our approach to planning resonates with you, we’d love to help you make a start on your journey. Just give us a call, drop us an email or pop in and we’ll facilitate your tailored GL Passport as your first step, with our compliments.
If the timing is not right for you for that, we hope that our occasional updates provide you with some valuable content and food for thought. Keep tuning in!
Until the next time, let me leave you with this quotation on preparedness:
“All things are ready, if our mind be so.” ― William Shakespeare, Henry V
Certified Financial Planner™ professional
Chartered Wealth Manager™
Investors should remember that the value of investments, and the income from them, can go down as well as up. This update has been produced for information purposes only and isn’t intended to constitute financial advice; investments referred to may not be suitable for everyone.