Thursday, November 30, 2017

“Somehow” Doesn’t Just Happen

A vague sadness looms over the days and weeks following the annual Grey Cup game.  This all-important finale marks the end to the year’s CFL season. Everything comes to a standstill.  The year is built on rough and tough plays, unpredictable wins and losses, surprising statistics, and the firing, hiring, and trading of players and coaches.  Anything can happen in the season.   Unexpected! Unanticipated! Sometimes ending with a dramatic and exciting finish like this year!  

This is the CFL, though. This is Canadian football. Bo Levi Mitchell hit Jorden for a deep ball, a gutsy throw. He had a shot at the end zone. The ball sailed up through the snow, and for a second in the press box a reporter yelled, “He’s open!” The clock was ticking down.

And Matt Black, an old Argo, came across and intercepted the ball in the end zone. Eight seconds on the clock, and the snow was still falling. Somehow, the Argos won the 105th Grey Cup, 27-24.”

You can breathe now.  The game is over.  But you have to admit that as the clock ticked down, you must have held your breathe like I did. 

No surprise here, I am not a sports columnist and this is not a sports blog.  So, why am I sharing Bruce Arthur’s sports column about the upheaval the Toronto Argos created for the Calgary Stampeders in Sunday’s Grey Cup Game?

Hidden in the sports columnist’s writing is one word which defines the chances of this happening. 

Read it again.  Search for it. See if you can find it.

The word is “somehow”.  There’s a mystery surrounding this word. “Somehow” means “in some way” or “by some means”. Unknown! Unexplainable!

As a financial planner, I am all about “certainty” and “surety” especially when it comes to having a “game plan” for the future. 

Yet, I appreciate the similarities between a well-played, well-executed football game and a well-designed, well-executed financial plan.  Both have the ability to create winning drives which result in achieving goals and dreams. 

When the word, “somehow” gets thrown in, it seems like any clear thought out plan did not exist.  There’s no strategy; there’s no planning with “somehow”.

Here’s the question:

Wouldn’t we rather be certain about our financial future than uncertain?
          Somehow means we’re not sure.

          Somehow, one day we will pass our business to our children.
          Somehow, one day we will retire.
          Somehow, one day we will be debt-free.

Think of your life as one important Grey Cup game. Imagine each of your life planning stages divided into separate quarters.   

          The 1st Quarter is your 20’s, 30’s and 40’s.
          The 2nd Quarter is your 40’s to early 50’s.
          The 3rd Quarter is your mid-50’s to early 60’s.
          The 4th Quarter is your 65 to 70.

Then you are at the Grey Cup Party, enjoying your well-designed retirement into your 70’s and beyond.   When the game is well-played and has ended, you have the distinct privilege of hoisting your victory cup, living your dream retirement. 

Every quarter, or life planning stage, has its own unique challenges.  Each quarter will come with a change of priorities, circumstances, and needs. When you create winning plays in each quarter, you will reap the benefit when your game is complete.  Your life’s playbook is specific to your needs and should be designed to drive your goals and dreams.  You shouldn’t have to wonder whether somehow you will achieve them.      

At age 20 or 30, your retirement years will feel so distant when your focus is on paying off your student loans, planning your wedding, acquiring a house, and raising your children. At age 40, your retirement will feel more realistic.  By the time you are 55, you might recognize retirement knocking on your door.  By 65, you may actually retire.

No football game ever plays out the way we would like.  Real life is like this too.  Your playbook is a compilation of strategies built on everyday realities.   Winning plays are created to tackle your debt, pick you up after a fumble, and to keep you in bounds with your spending plan.  Specific interferences can rock your game plan.  Your drives might need to be tweaked to combat life’s intrusions, like a disability, an unexpected death, or the adversity of a divorce. 

Financial planners know that creating your own winning plays might be difficult.    A financial plan, is like a playbook, specifically aimed at successfully reaching your retirement goal.   Having a plan is far better than wondering if “somehow” you can win without one.  No longer will your retirement have to be an elusive dream, some pie-in-the-sky fantasy. When preparation and planning begin early and play a part in all life stages, your dream can become reality.

Robert Collier makes an excellent point. He conveys “Success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out.”   When you believe this to be true, you will be ready to design your game-winning playbook.

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