It's time to make a plan

"If a man knows not to which port he sails, no wind is favorable." – Seneca

The Stoic philosopher Seneca may have been ahead of his time.  There might be something to this whole planning thing.

By any objective measure, today’s global economy is the most prosperous the world has ever seen.  And, yet, millions of Americans experience real anxiety about the state of their finances.  How will they get out from under credit card debt and student loans?  What is the best way to save for their child’s education?  Where will they find the money to build a retirement nest egg?

What separates those who achieve peace of mind from those who continue to struggle?  According to research published in Forbes, people who vividly describe their goals are 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to accomplish them.  The science behind this is compelling, which is why we stress goal setting (i.e. “financial planning”) as the foundation of all our new client relationships.

The science shows that it’s vital to:

  1. Make a written plan
  2. Take action, right away, to implement the plan
  3. Review the plan regularly

The science corresponds perfectly to our financial planning approach which we call The Partnering Process:

  1. Planning Phase – creating the plan, which we call The Financial Wellcheck
  2. Implementation Phase – get in motion, even if it’s just one small step toward your goals
  3. Review Phase – look at the plan at least annually, measure progress, see what adjustments are needed. It helps to have an online tool like our Personal Financial Portal for easy access to your goals and progress toward them.

It’s interesting, too, how important it is to actually write down your plan for achieving your goals:

  • Thinking about your goals isn’t enough. Writing forces you to organize and prioritize in a way that thinking does not.
  • Talking about your goals isn’t enough.  This is an improvement over thinking because at least you have now shared your goals with another person, but writing makes it more concrete.
  • Writing your goals not only gives you a constant visual reminder you can reference, it also encodes the information onto your brain in a way that thinking and talking alone simply cannot do. Again, science backs this up.

Clearly, writing down your goals and plans is critical to success.  We find there is also one other “hack” that often leads to achievement of the goals…it’s called accountability.  Think of all the areas in your life where you already have an accountability partner for things that matter to you.  It could be your spouse/significant other, a coach, a workout buddy, a personal trainer, etc.   Finding someone else who is as invested in your goals as you are can be a powerful way to ensure development of healthy habits toward achieving your goals.  The Partnering Process at Oxford was built with this accountability partner concept in mind.

We work with lots of very smart, motivated people.  These people also tend to be very busy with their careers, families, friends, hobbies, etc.  With so much going on it’s easy to put off planning for a secure financial future.  

If you’re interested in learning more about our role as planners and accountability partners to our clients, feel free to give us a call.  We’d love to partner with you to help you achieve financial peace of mind.