Originally published in the News Star on Sunday, October 4, 2015.
Question: My life has gotten so busy with three young children and a very demanding job. I just don’t have enough time to plan. You probably hear this excuse all the time. But can I do about it?
Answer: I have no doubt you are busy.
However, imagine for a moment the nightmare of every parent: in the middle of the night, your young child stumbles, bleary-eyed into your room, struggling to breathe. Is it a cold? Allergies? Asthma? Something else? Quickly you pull on some clothes and rush him to the emergency room. Maybe you’re there for an hour. Maybe all night.
Does it really matter? Of course not. You did what any loving parent would do – you took care of your priority – your child.
Now, suppose the doctor gives you medicine that she says will keep your child out of the hospital again. But he’ll have to take it four times a day for a year, including a dose administered in the middle of the night. Would you do it?
It’s not really a question, is it? Of course you would.
But what happened to your busy schedule?
I’ll tell you what happened – it got pre-empted by a higher priority.
I know you’re busy. But “more time” is not the answer to your issues. There is no more time. Everyone that lives a 24 hour day gets the same daily amount. So simply reciting to yourself that you are busy and that you “don’t have enough time” is wasting that most precious of your resources – your time.
In truth, what your actions are demonstrating is that you believe just the opposite of what you are saying.
In the emergency room example above, the reason for all the rush is that you genuinely believe time is of the essence. You wouldn’t drag yourself out of the house at midnight for your child’s routine dental hygiene appointment. Because there’s time. It can be done later.
Your actions tell me you believe the same about your financial planning – it can be done later. What I can also tell from your question is that your emotional tea kettle is heating up, but it isn’t boiling yet. It’s warm enough that you are to the complaining stage, but not boiling, forcing you to the action stage.
Author Stephen Covey (give yourself a gold star if you’ve read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People) introduced us to the difference between things that are urgent and important, and things that are non-urgent and important.
Urgent / important things are emergencies. Non-urgent / important things should be priorities, but have not reached the stage where they demand action.
If you know someone who is constantly frazzled and complaining (even if it’s the person in the mirror), you can bet they’ve never learned the secret of prioritizing the non-urgent / unimportant things in their lives.
Successful, mature individuals have learned that not every crisis is a crisis. Indeed, how many of the “critical / must do it now” things in your life would fade away in the face of a real emergency (like your child needing to go to the emergency room)?
Successful, mature individuals make space in their busy lives to take care of the not-yet-urgent, but important things in their lives – like financial planning. I said MAKE space.
The bigger truth is that you don’t have enough time to put off your financial planning any longer.
So, first, make a decision that you will do this – that you’ll make the time.
Second, get someone to help you. You’re going to need outside accountability and someone to walk you through a process.
Busy? I’m sure you are.
And that is exactly why you’ve got to get started on the planning you’ve been putting off…now.
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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.