A Goal without a Plan is just a Wish

This quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupery, the author of ‘The Little Prince’, is my new favorite.  It is the featured quote for the month of March on a Camp Seafarer calendar which I saw while putting my daughter to bed.  She loves going to camp and I love that her counselors are helping her think about turning her wishes into goals.

Of course the quote speaks to the work we do every day with clients.  We help clients articulate their wishes and dreams and through the financial planning process, chart a path to achieving those goals with minimal risk.  Like many good quotes this one captures an idea but oversimplifies the process.  Making and sticking to plans is often harder than it looks.

We like to refer to the comprehensive brand of planning that we practice as Financial Life Planning. Rates of return and risk management are part of Financial Life Planning, but it is more these.  It is really about creating a framework within which financial choices can be evaluated.  Each client’s framework is unique and incorporates goals, dreams, and risks as well as money personalities, values, and legacy wishes.  We often help clients evaluate the tradeoffs of working another year versus traveling more in retirement, versus risking exhausting their assets at the age of 100.  These are not simple or one time decisions.  They require deep discussions and ongoing monitoring and re-evaluation.

While the planning usually starts with two goals, that our clients not run out of money and that they are free from worrying about money during their retirement, the hardest part of Financial Life Planning often comes when we are confident that those two goals are satisfied.

There is a financial aspect to all goals, but the next level of goals is often predominantly non-financial.  Dying with the most toys is a goal, certainly, but it is one that might seem inadequate when staring down the reality of one’s own mortality.  To paraphrase the Cheshire Cat “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.”  Helping clients identify and plan for that next level of goals requires time and trust and is the part of planning that I enjoy most.

Helping clients create and follow through on plans to turn their wishes into achievable goals is truly gratifying for us and we are grateful for the opportunity to help.