“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…” Dr. Suess
Anyone that can grasp the concept of a future understands the power of goal setting and planning. We, and no one else, are responsible for our own lives, yet we spend so little of our time directing our lives for any great purpose.
Ben Franklin said that failing to prepare is preparing to fail. I love that quote for many reasons. Financial planning is the core of my practice and I view it as a vital part of successfully accomplishing your goals in life. So with that said I spent some time researching what people do and why they avoid planning.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has a survey every couple of years that analyzes how people spend their time every day. The numbers will probably shock you. When you read the numbers keep in mind that this is the average of all Americans over the age of 15 so it includes college students, retirees, and both employed and unemployed individuals.
In 2013 the average day looked like this:
ACTIVITY Hours Spent Daily
Household Work 1.78
Personal Care 0.8
Caring for Others 0.72
Educational Activities 0.48
What stands out to me when you look at the average day there are a lot of people that aren’t working. (FYI Among households that are working the number of hours working was 7.8 daily) Another thing that stands out is the number of people that may be lying about their phone and email time.
So with our day now defined and we can all agree that planning is beneficial then why do so few people do it?
Lies, Excuses, and Statistics
I work with lots of very successful people and I could fill a book with the stories and excuses I have heard about why they don’t or haven’t completed their planning. We’re too busy. That’s only for the wealthy. I doubt it will be beneficial. It is too expensive. I will do it in the future. This just scratches the surface of the stories I have heard.
Let’s look at these one by one:
We are too busy. The statistics above show that there is a lot of time available if we would stop living in the moment. For too many of us the future is what we are going to have for dinner. We have been so trained to focus on the here and now and not worry about the future. If you could be shown a path that would help you work towards your goals would you take it? Planning helps you discover the path.
That’s only for the wealthy. I regularly hear this one and it makes me laugh. If you have accumulated any assets or have a dream to one day reach retirement then you can not afford not to have a plan. Planning helps protect your family and can help you prepare your goals and see if they are realistic.
I doubt it will be beneficial. Our own doubts are very powerful. They can even be paralysing. Many of us carry doubts from our upbringing and experiences we have gained. If you have seen poor planning outcomes with your parents or friends then you will probably carry a lot of doubt. There are millions of examples where planning has had a transformational effect.
It is too expensive. When I hear this response I usually cringe because for a majority of the population it is too expensive NOT to plan. From the simplest decisions around insurance beneficiaries and drafting proper wills not having a plan can cost you a significant amount of money in the future. So my answer to this is usually around how much are they willing to make their heirs pay to clean up their mess. This is a penny-wise pound foolish decision when I hear it is too expensive.
I will do it in the future. We all procrastinate about something. We have a limited amount of time and we have to prioritize. As evidenced from the stats above planning is not a high priority for most people. I understand that it can be painful to discuss finances, goals, and to face our own mortality. But what happens if that future date never arrives.
Take advantage of the time you have. To quote Benjamin Franklin one more time: “Don’t put off until tomorrow, what can be done today!” Take some of the 5 hours of leisure a day and begin to discuss your plans. Then sit down with your financial planner and formalize those plans. I am here to listen and remember to follow your dreams because they know where you are going.
A Thought From The Factory on Main
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.