goals

The Cost of a Shortcut

photo shows a tunnel through brambles

You’ve heard us say it before: we are not a sales organization. Instead, our aim is to try to grow our clients’ buckets. 

As such, you don’t hear us bragging about our “monthly numbers,” our quotas, or other short-term goals. We’re all about the long term. 

Does that mean we don’t have an edge? 

We’ve been thinking that maybe the stuff we skip is part of what helps us focus. Plenty of businesses right now—inside and outside the financial world—are working hard on getting folks on board. We get pop-ups offering 20% off our first purchase… once we sign up. We see ads for that special welcome gift… once we sign up. 

Notice anything? These deals are aimed at the business’s short-term goal (getting you on board). They are not necessarily about your long-term wellbeing. They want you in the club, but once you jump in, it’s usually on their terms. 

We love a bargain or a good deal as much as the next person… but we also know our worth. Our time is valuable. Our resources are supposed to be tools for working toward our goals. We believe the same things are true about you, our clients. 

A shortcut, a leg-up, or priority treatment—they only matter if they’re heading the same direction you are. Otherwise, you may be accepting a shortcut to a dead-end. 

Clients, want to know more about what this means for you? Reach out when you’re ready. 


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White-Knuckle Dreams

photo shows wooden chairs on wooden deck on a wooded lake

With decades in the financial industry, it’s been interesting to work alongside some friends and their families for years. I’ve gotten to witness many of their big milestones—and share mine, too.

Some goals have changed over time. It has happened in many different ways. Births and deaths can shift priorities. Sudden windfalls can open up opportunities and goals that once seemed unthinkable.

One quality connects a lot of the most successful goals: they stay flexible.

Is it cheating to say that a goal that changed is still a win? Well, was the birth or the death or the sudden windfall “cheating”? These questions are sort of beside the point. If life is change, a flexible mindset is the winning one.

It’s easy enough to mistake tension for focus or drive. But tense muscles don’t work as well as pliable ones. A marathon runner who cramps up, a surgeon who forgets to breathe—those are not success stories in the making.

We’ve loved getting to help clients meet those huge, lifelong dreams, of course, but there’s no romance in a dream that swallows you up. You can’t white-knuckle your way to your dreams.

We think it’s possible to set our sights high and roll with things along the way. That’s why we put so much stake in the plans and planning that go into your financial situation.

And it’s why we enjoy the work so much. Giving shape to dreams can be as thrilling as seeing them through—in fact, you can’t get there without it.

Clients, when you’re ready to talk about this or anything else, let us know.

What’s a Win?

photo shows a person with a hat and ponytail sitting on a cliff's edge

Maybe you’ve seen this type of picture on social media lately: the family perched on big rocks in the hillside or an orange sunset over the shoulder from the peak of a mountain. Plenty of our friends and relations have been enjoying more of the great outdoors in the past few weeks. Some have even been inspired to hike for the first time!

Those majestic views are such a treat, even experienced vicariously through my screen. But they had me thinking about those hikes and the challenges they pose.

Say you were planning a hike on a new trail. Maybe a two-mile trek would be a reasonable goal: challenging given the terrain, but totally possible. Yeah, it could actually be exciting to push yourself and make that happen! Two miles of work, the corresponding exercise endorphins, and gorgeous views?

That hike would be a win.

So you set off. After feeling the initial burn, you settle into a rhythm and are enjoying yourself. Maybe there’s more to gain here than you expected.

At the end of your planned route, you still feel like you have gas in the tank: on a whim, you travel on for two more miles.

You can’t believe it! This is farther than you’ve ever hiked in your life, more steps than you could ever have imagined! It is totally thrilling.

You check your watch. Time to head back, you suppose, but what a ride! It’s only once you look up that you realize what you’ve done. The gas in the tank was supposed to be for coasting back to comfort and safety.

Your reasonable win has become a burden. Your resources are low; it’s hard to enjoy what you did accomplish because of how little you’re left with now.

Mistakes like these aren’t always deadly or catastrophic—but they can certainly harm your goals and your wellbeing. For investors, the instinct to throw everything in on the way up (and up and up and up!) can mean that much harder of a fall when the reality sets in.

What’s a win? If you set your terms going in, you may be less tempted to risk your goal for some moonshot you didn’t need in the first place.

Clients, remember: we are all about your goals. If you feel them shifting or want to talk, call or email any time.

It’s a Whole New Ball Game

picture shows sunrise behind dewy grass

Millions of us are living through new experiences. The global pandemic has affected many aspects of daily life. Sportscasters and others have used the expression “It’s a whole new ball game” to describe suddenly changed circumstances.

It seems apt now. The rate of change—and the stakes—in this pandemic can feel overwhelming and disorienting. And yet we wonder…

We humans start out knowing nothing about anything, right? Babyhood was a whole new ball game, along with getting teeth, walking, going to kindergarten, making friends (and enemies), and all the other developments in our lives.

So how is it that we have each managed to adapt and deal with this lifetime of ever-changing circumstances, coped with each and every “whole new ball game”? What lessons are there as we each deal with our current set of changes?

Some of the answers might be found in our own pasts, the things that have taught us perspective. Maybe the answers are in our goals and priorities: they could guide the way through. No matter what we each face now, the overall challenge of change remains.

We might revise the old saying and conclude, “It’s always a whole new ball game.”

Clients, if you’d like to discuss this or anything else, write or call.

Thoughts and Destiny

pic for Thoughts and Destiny

Our thoughts become words; words, actions; actions, habits; habits, character.

What we “do” for work is sometimes hard to describe. Often, it starts in the mind. Either we have a hunch, or a client wonders, “What if…”

Soon, we’re writing or talking about it. We’re acting on our plan. We’re integrating the change into the overall vision. And we’ve done it! We’re working our whole, integrated system.

Simple enough, right? Deliberate motion.

But it starts with planning, taking those thoughts and arranging them in the direction of our goals.

Lately, we’ve been thinking about that series of relationships. We’ve seen the sentiment posted above in many forms over the years, and we found out that versions of that idea have been ascribed to various poets and teachers for hundreds of years (not to mention Lao Tzu, Margaret Thatcher, and even the Buddha!).

Maybe the credit ought to be shared after all, because we think there is treasure of wisdom in this notion. If we could condense the chain, it would be this: planning is the attempt to shape your destiny.

Planning is agreeing to take your ideas seriously enough to examine them. Planning is a decision that your life will no longer be a thing that happens to you.

Planning is “opting in” to your life.

Clients, there is no one path we’re prescribing here. But we are firm believers in helping you work toward your goals, and geez are we geared up about it.

Whether it’s a thought from your head or a question for us, we’d love to hear from you. Write or call anytime.

First Light

firstlight

Each one of us remembers some new beginning. Perhaps your first thought at seeing the phrase might be of a first day of school, or first kiss, first day at a new job, new relationship, life in a new neighborhood, or something else.

Beginnings are all about potential, anticipation and excitement: a journey on roads we’ve not traveled.

I often take walks in the first light of dawn. The quality of the light in that hour can be magical, whether in the village of Louisville or the banks of the Platte River, along San Diego Bay or Michigan Avenue or in Pinellas County, Florida.

But the meaning of first light is more special to me than the beautiful scenes it might envelope. First light is a new day dawning, another step on a path never before taken. It is fraught with potential, anticipation, and excitement. Each day is a beginning.

This perspective may be helpful to move forward from past hard times, or to change things we would like to change. But it can also be useful as we seek to strengthen new habits or build on recent successes. Whether things are going well or poorly, a beginning is a chance to reset.

What new beginning excites you? Clients, if you would like to talk about this or anything else, please email us or call.

S.M.A.R.T. Goals?

© Can Stock Photo / PixelsAway

We’ve all hard about SMART goals, haven’t we? The acronym stands for “Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound.”

Perhaps SMART goals should be balanced with GUT goals: General, Unbounded, Timeless.

SMART goals are all about what we do. GUT goals are all about who we are.

Great thinker James Clear talks says the key to lasting improvement is to change who we believe we are. This is key because we humans are always in the process of becoming who we believe we are. This is a general concept. For example, we might come to believe we are a person who prioritizes exercise.

Compare that to a SMART goal like ‘walk two miles every day.’ Life has a way of getting in the way of our plans; the specific plan to walk might fall to inclement weather, or an upset schedule. But if we believe we are a person who prioritizes exercise, we will usually figure out a way to get exercise despite the disruptions that inevitably pop up.

The SMART goal of walking two miles every day is specific, so involves failure when it is not met. But the GUT goal of becoming a person who prioritizes exercise, being general, does not chalk up a failure when the inevitable lapse occurs.

On another parameter, SMART goals can only be applied to things that are measurable. Many of the most important things cannot be measured. Try to quantify empathy, love, a sunset, or the work of an inspired person. A GUT goal might be about things that cannot be measured. One example, to be present in the presence of others: more empathetic, more attentive, more closely connected to the moment. If we come to believe we are that person, our actions will reflect it.

There are corollaries to personal financial planning. If we believe we are people who put something away every payday, who think twice before committing to large expenditures, who live below our means, who balance long term goals against impulsive spending, then our daily actions may support our key objectives.

Clients, if you would like to talk about this or anything else, please email us or call.

Taking Stock

© Can Stock Photo / gajdamak

One of the things we do periodically with you is take stock. Having a periodic review helps us stay in touch with what is going on in your life. It’s also a good time to review your holdings, the economy and the markets as well. The items to discuss fall into these two basic categories.

  1. Planning – connecting your money to your life.
    1. Cash flow needs, saving, spending and lifestyle.
    2. Thinking on retirement.
    3. Plans for residence, if any, moving or major remodeling.
    4. Estate and trust considerations.
    5. Other objectives, special considerations, taxes.
  2. Investing – your portfolio and the markets.
    1. The role of volatility in long term investing.
    2. Risk tolerance discussion.
    3. Time horizon review.
    4. Our assessment of opportunities and risks.

Of course, we spend a lot of time working with you when a money question comes up. You can ask us anything, any time. If we don’t know the answer, we’ll do our best to find it.

Clients, if things are happening we should know about, please email us or call. Otherwise, we’ll be in touch by and by.