Life is made up of a lot of endless details. And, as financial people, the endless details are where we shine.
I have said from time to time that eating an elephant is best done one bite at a time. (Mustard would probably also be a good idea.) Most tasks, no matter how enormous they may seem at the time, are actually finite in nature. By finite, I mean to say that if we work on them in our usual diligent manner, at some point they are finished.
The approach I take to planning is based on the recognition that there are 1 day plans, 1 week plans, 1 month plans, 3 month plans and 1 year plans. There are also 5 year plans I suppose, but for most of us, just getting through the day is an accomplishment and I don’t want to discourage any of you. We’ll leave a discussion of really long term thinking for another night.
The key to success is keeping all of these plans consistent. The slippery slope if you will is letting the endless details that make up the day cause you to lose focus on your longer term goals. Getting through the day is vitally important. But if you get through the day and haven’t moved yourself even an inch closer to your goals, you have effectively lost ground.
Even if you don’t have a specific timeline for your longer term goals or a detailed plan, you can still make it work by having a mental picture of where you are going with your life. Life can be filled with minor setbacks. But, two steps forward, one step back, still puts you one step ahead.
One of the questions I ask those who call me is how old they are. Where you are in your career should directly affect your strategic thinking. Early in your career you should be focused on gaining skills and stature. Late in your career, your focus needs to be on working at ANYTHING that utilizes one of your skill sets. All jobs are temporary, and they can tend to be more temporary later in your career, so the approach I recommend is to find things quickly and do them whether or not they are an exact fit for what you want to do. Fussiness is best left to those with more miles left on their odometers.
The big picture can be a lot of things. And, given how life can play tricks on us, having several big picture long term plans is probably a good idea. Any one of these big ideas should be something that you would find appropriate.
Current events will always affect us. There are boom times and times best described as great recessions. (I don’t know. Are we still allowed to use that word or are we finally in recovery?)
Just always keep in mind that you only get to do your life once. And, all you can do is try.
If you keep your focus, you just may end up exactly where you want to be.