I remember a long time ago, thirty years ago now, when I had a ‘real job’. I was working for an insurance company and we were handed out our planning targets for the new year just before Christmas. The numbers had taken a significant jump and one of my co-workers asked the question why had they taken this hike. This was back in the 1980’s, the recession was biting hard and it seemed as though the company were putting us under substantial increased pressure to perform. The answer which the company gave in response to this query was no more eloquent than ‘because I say so’.
This situation did nothing for team morale among those who would have to implement the new programme. It certainly didn’t help our outlook on the financial year end, which was fast approaching. Instead of motivating us, the company told us to just get out there and make it happen. What a way to plan the future. I hope that most company’s attitudes have moved on somewhat since then.
Create a Vision
As part of our financial planning process, we talk to our clients about the type of vision that they have for their future.
- Who owns that vision?
- How long does that vision last for?
- Have they thought about where that vision might take them?
- What steps do we need to take to realise that vision?
These are some of the considerations that arise. Planning for the future involves a long road, and it requires that everyone involved needs to be on board with both the vision and the plan.
Planning involves change. And nobody likes change. It’s the most uncomfortable thing that we meet in life. To arrive at the future we have envisaged for ourselves, we need to change professionally, personally and financially. Although many people start into a new year with ideas about changing certain things in the next 12 months, they should also keep an eye on the long-term goals stretching beyond 2017. Planning in this way, by creating a long-term vision can sometimes be the most difficult thing to do but creating short term markers can help.
Although planning needs to be long-term, there is also a need to provide ourselves with interim goals. These markers on the road to success let us know that we’re going in the right direction. And this is what we should aim to do at the end, or beginning of each year. 2016 brought many surprises which most of us did not foresee, and now 2017 is laying ahead of us, no doubt with its own tricks up its sleeve. Despite this, we can still put plans in place, decide what we want to change or improve upon over the next twelve months.
Most of the clients we deal with are professionals and executives, people who manage businesses, and who can recognise that there is never just one way of doing things. They also have the vision to be able to see a different future from the reality of today. Visualising your future is a key part of planning for your future. If you don’t have a picture, then you can’t make that a reality. You have to create this vision for yourself and then own it. This is a serious part of the planning process.
It Involves Everyone
When we decide to make a change, who should we involve in that decision-making process? There are obvious people who will be involved, such as colleagues at work, when it is a work-based decision. However, there are others who need to be considered too. The key people within your family should be involved before a significant change is embarked upon, particularly when it will directly impact upon them and their lives.
If having achieved all your plans, and in three years from now you can say ‘I have succeeded!’ What had to change to make that success possible? Listing out these things can help you in the planning stages. Also, take a moment, in that vision three years down the road to see where you are. What does the world look like then that is different to now? Is it what you really want for yourself? If yes, then you know you’re on the right track, if not, now is the time to tweak your vision and your plans.
Do You Need to Change?
Is what you’re doing at present going to deliver the future that you are hoping for? When you change things, there are risks involved, and there is a price to be paid. Is the risk that you are thinking of taking going to be worth it at the end of the day? This, again, may involve more people than just yourself. Do the other people in your life subscribe to the vision in the same way you do? If not, are you justified in asking them to pay for it?
Remember, we are on a long road. The question is ‘to where?’ We’re not Buzz Lightyear, we don’t want to set off to the furthest point from where we are now, regardless of direction. We want to get to a specific point, to the place where you can deliver the future that works for you, your family and those who work with you.
As we approach the end of the year, now is a good time to think about those changes you may want to make in the new year. Give your plan the adequate time and consideration it deserves so that it stands the best chance of success.