QUESTION: In these crazy times, what do you suggest for New Year’s Resolutions in my financial life?
ANSWER: Here are five to ponder as the New Year approaches:
Resolved: I will live twice. You know you said it: “Where did 2015 go?” Yes, it did seem to fly by so quickly. Are you happy with the results?
If you are unsatisfied with 2015’s results, it is probably because you let it happen to you, rather than determining (at least to some degree) what was going to happen.
So what needs to happen in 2016 to make you happy when you look back in 365 days? You could say, “Win the Power Ball Lottery!” but you would be very unlikely to influence the likelihood of that happening.
Why not take out a sheet of paper and right down a few items that you could realistically work towards, that, if they happened, you could say, “Now THAT would make me happy!”
This is called living twice – once “on paper” or in your mind…the second in real life, as you proactively work towards bringing about the life you’ve already “lived” in your plan.
Resolved: I will prioritize planning over products. A financial plan is the fiscal version of living twice. I see too many people who think having a successful financial life is all about finding the holy grail of investment products – the next hot mutual fund, the highest interest rate on a savings account or the good deal on a piece of real estate.
I would much rather see someone with simply average financial products, but all working on concert together under the orchestration of a well-conceived financial plan.
Resolved: I will decide to be disciplined. A plan is not worth the paper it is printed on without the discipline to actually do the things recommended in the plan.
See the attorney about wills. Set up a meeting with your insurance agent to fill in those gaps in coverage. Begin paying off debt each month with a regular amount. Enroll in the company 401K plan.
Discipline is the doing…over and over again.
Resolved: I will head toward habits. Once discipline becomes easy, it’s no longer discipline – it’s a habit. And that’s what you want – to be doing the action steps in your plan designed to create the financial life you want over time. And the doing of them is no longer such a big deal – it’s just who you are. Or, perhaps more accurately, it’s who you’ve become.
At this stage, it has simply become a habit to be on the road to financial success. And that’s a good place to be. But you can multiply the impact of such a successful financial lifestyle by resolution #5.
Resolved: I will delegate to be great. You may be able to do a lot of things, but you’ll never be great at all of them.
I’m always surprised when someone tells me, “I don’t want to have to depend on anybody.” The ironic truth is that the more independent you are now, the more dependent you usually end up being later. Deciding between being independent and dependent is a false choice. There is a third option – interdependence. In today’s highly specialized economy, interdependence is key to your success.
You can only be great at one or two things. Imagine how much more productive you could be if you only worked in areas in which you had developed unique skills. Everything else gets delegated either to an employee working for you, or an expert you hire.
Imagine what you want 2016 to be. Then put that dream down on paper in understandable action steps. Do the action steps. “Rinse and repeat” until it becomes a part of who you are. And as your unique abilities begin to emerge, increase your capacity to focus on these high payoff areas by delegating more and more of the other stuff to those better able to handle it.
Try that and tell me how it goes in 365 days.
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Byron R. Moore, CFP® is Managing Director / Planning Group of Argent Advisors, Inc. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Write to him at 500 East Reynolds Drive, Ruston, LA 71270 or call him at (318) 251-5858. The opinions of any single advisor do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Argent Advisors, Inc. No forecasts can be guaranteed. Argent Advisors, Inc. does not offer tax, insurance or legal advice. The information contained in this column should not be construed as a substitute for personalized investment, tax, insurance or legal advice.