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How to Plan for 2018


How to Plan for 2018

Planning by definition is focused on the future. You can’t plan by dwelling on what you did or didn’t do in the past. As we flip the calendar pages into a brand new year, think about what you want to leave behind in 2017. Baggage weighs you down. Don’t take it with you into 2018.

Are You Ready for 2018?

We talk with clients frequently about goals. The problem is, many clients have fluffy, aspirational ideals that have little to do with their current reality. If you have difficulty framing realistic goals, think about what you want to happen in 2018. The inverse, of course, is what you don’t want to happen. Both sides of this coin can provide positive motivation.

The value of having desired outcomes or goals is not necessarily the future they describe, but rather, how they change your perception of today. How they nudge you ahead.

Outline Your Goals

When you outline your goals, start by thinking about people, accomplishments, and relationships. Who and what matters most? Goals need to be highly personal. Generic goals won’t do.

A word of fair warning: Goals and plans are different things. Goals, or outcomes, don’t magically happen unless you have a plan. Goals precede planning, but both are required.

Related: Successful Investing Depends on Behavior

Connect the Present to the Future

Behavioral economists use the term “hyperbolic discounting” to describe the strong tendency to place an unrealistically high value on the present and an unrealistically low value on the future. Stated another way, we usually choose a smaller amount of something today, instead of a larger amount of something in the future.

Plans, and the action steps that ensue, can serve as connecting points between the present and the future.

While goals often are expressed in yearly terms, research has shown that shorter timeframes increase the “positive tension” of having a deadline. Every year at this time, I re-read The 12 Week Year by Brian Moran to regain some understanding of the value of shorter timeframes for goals.

Increase Possibilities for the Future

Remember, the whole point of striving for something, particularly something financially-oriented, is to increase your available options in the future. Financial questions ultimately are answered in binary terms: either you have enough money for something that you value, or you don’t have enough. For accumulators (those in their 40’s and 50’s) and distributors (those in their 60’s or older), having financial flexibility is a worthy goal.

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