A friend of mine once told me the following story:
It seems two people met in a chess club, to, unsurprisingly, play a game of chess. One of the players was a renowned chess master. The other was not well known and had come in off the street in search of a game. The two players were seated and after a hard-fought match, the unknown player won.
A reporter, covering chess for a local newspaper, happened to be on hand and watched the game. When it ended, he spoke with both players. First, he spoke with the renowned master. He asked him what his approach to the game of chess was. The master responded, “I think seven moves ahead at all times.” Then, the reporter spoke with the unknown player and asked him how he approached the game of chess. The unknown player said, “Hmmm, I just try to make the best move I can, every time it is my turn to move.”
Before I continue, please forgive me. I simplified this story. Frankly, I don’t remember the name of the chess club or the chess master. And I know I have left out some of the other details. Yet, what I have recounted is the central theme of the story. Let’s get to that.
Some of us are good at thinking about the possibilities the future might have in store. And of those of us who are good at thinking about what might happen in the future, there is a subset of individuals who are good at making plans for those possible future events.
Then, there is another group of folks. These are the people who may or may not think about the future but, in either case, they do not seem to be drawn to the activity of planning for the future. These folks often become filled with anxiety if they get caught up thinking too far into the future about what might or might not happen. Because of this, they seek to avoid that anxiety by avoiding planning.
Allow me to get back to the story for a moment. I cannot tell you whether it is a true story or not. However, I do know that it illustrates an important point. As far as my knowledge and thinking goes, nothing in the human experience calls for being approached in one single way. In other words, there is a variety of ways in which we choose to live. And that variety represents tradeoffs we are willing to make, based on personal value judgments about what is important to us. Or, we might act in a certain way to simply avoid anxiety.
What the chess story illustrates is that long term planning is certainly valuable. If it wasn’t, how can one become a chess master? However, it also shows that you can get excellent results by making the best decision, move to move. Or as it related to our planning, making the best choices day to day.
What does all of this have to do with wealth building? Quite a lot actually. You see, how we go about building our wealth has a lot to do with who we are as individuals. Some of us have a natural inclination to plan for the future and some of us do not. By now, I believe you all know that I fall squarely into the plan for the future camp.
However, I recognize that some of us become so overwrought when it comes to planning for our financial futures that we seek the path of avoidance to protect ourselves from the torrent of anxiety that often overcomes us when thinking about the future. And just so you know, though I work hard at following through on wealth building plans for my family and myself, when it comes to going to the doctor, I often find myself on the avoidance path. We all have our Achilles heals to contend with. (I’m getting better at going to the doctor, by the way.)
Life is not a one size fits all affair. What should we do if we frequently find ourselves on the avoidance path, when it comes to planning for our financial futures? Well, what about doing the right thing every single day. If we live well below our means every day and if we responsibly save money every day, week and month, then we are going to be in a better position than someone who blows all their money, lives a life of false luxury and saves nothing.
Doing the right thing every day can help us to build wealth. Living reasonably without getting caught up in rampant consumerism is a good thing to do every day. Saving money is a good thing to do every day. Taking what we have saved and putting it into diversified financial vehicles - that make sense for us - is a good thing to do every day (week, month and year.)
We might not feel we are the best planners, but if we do the right thing every day, we should certainly do better than the people who do the wrong thing every day. And who knows, just like the story of the chess players, we might even do better than some people who make elaborate plans for the future. Why? Because having a plan and not executing that plan competently might not be as good as doing the right thing day in and day out.
If thinking too far into your financial future makes you nervous, you might at least consider working with a competent financial professional, who can help you do the right thing, right now and help make that a habit.
Whatever you decide to do, take action now.
Scott R. McGimpsey June 5th, 2017
This material was prepared by Scott McGimpsey and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. All information is believed to be from reliable sources, however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Neither Summit Brokerage Services Inc. nor Scott McGimpsey is engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professionally services. If such assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any federal, state, or municipal tax penalty. Moreover, a diversified portfolio does not assure a profit or assure protection against loss in a declining market. UNIFIED PLANNING GROUP is an independent firm with securities offered through Summit Brokerage Services Inc., Member FINRA, SIPC