Resolutions by Ten

The annual exercise begins…New Year’s resolutions. The American inventor Charles Kettering noted, “Every time you tear a leaf off a calendar, you present a new place for ideas and progress.” Kettering (1876-1958), president of Delco, invented the electric self-starter for vehicles. In an ode to Mr. Kettering, for 2019 resolve to be a self-starter and reinvent yourself. Kettering was a long-term thinker and so should you be. Formulate resolutions not for one year, but for the next ten years!

How old will you be ten years from now? What challenges will you potentially face along the way? What milestones will you celebrate?

At age 18 in most states you’re an adult. What now? Between age 18 and 28 yours truly graduated from high school and college, received a commission in the U.S. Air Force, served in Vietnam, left the service to join a major airline, and met the lovely lady who would become my wife and the mother of my children. Much can happen in ten years. What you do in the “next ten” years will impact the following decades through the cycles of life.

Young graduates on the cusp of “adulting” decisions like marriage, family formation, buying a home, career building, military service, graduate school, achieving levels of personal and financial independence, etc., realize that a plan beats “going with the flow.” A plan and talent-based strengths coaching increases the potential for success.

Consider challenges unfolding now or possibly in the future, positive or negative. Where are you in the Age Wave? Many challenges, opportunities, or setbacks can be related somewhat to age. Include your spouse, other loved ones, in your projections. What will life throw at you or your family? Parents or grandparents? Others you care about? Key people in your closely-held business?

What lessons have you learned in the past ten years, or further back in life, that you should incorporate in your self-reinvention plan? Are you still amazed at those who keep making the same mistakes over and over? Happens all the time in investing, finance, business, government. The missteps of others often open doors for the alert and adept.

Major life transitions can be tough, especially those you don’t see coming and would not have chosen. Divorce, loss of job or position, serious illness or injury, loss of a loved one, a major financial reverse. Money may be part of your transition, but emotional factors loom large. Moving to a “new normal” is messy. Too many choices, too many voices telling you what you should do. Difficulty in letting go of “what was.” Difficulty in even seeing what “new normal” looks like. Often only in retrospect do you know you’ve arrived.

The future normally is fuzzy. Goal attainment is never 100% assured. A ten year plan may seem ludicrous. “Are you serious, Walker? I’m just trying to get through the month!” Yes, that’s why you need a plan!

A pilot planning to fly an airliner full of souls depending on him or her, has a flight plan. The airline’s operations center monitors progress from the moment the plane leaves the gate, from “wheels up” to touchdown, to engine shutdown at destination, to disembarkation of passengers, baggage, and freight. Plans are in place to deal with emergencies—mechanical, weather, or passenger related. Fuel reserves are aboard to accommodate rerouting, headwinds, etc. Trained experts are available 24/7 to talk with flight crews dealing with unexpected challenges, consulting resources of a sort.

In terms of your personal flight plan, that of your family, your enterprise or professional practice, any endeavor, above we have described the life transitions planning process, of which financial planning is a part. Plans require a definition of challenges, known and potential, positive or negative; alternatives to meet challenges of any ilk; resources including capital reserves, risk management considerations, consulting advice; and defining expectations, what you wish to experience, your envisioned destination.

What will your 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, 100+, look like?

What will you do when you reach the next milestone? What do you want to look back on ten years from now with a smile and say, “Yup, I did that!” Who do you want to be ten years from now? That’s a different question from, “What do you want to be doing ten years from now?” The latter questions are germane to retirement planning, especially!

Plan in your life in terms of a series of “next tens.” That gets very interesting! Happy New Year!

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