To embrace the precious present moment is sage advice—wisdom I work hard to live by. Yet to truly move forward in life, we need to envision “where we want to be” in order to define a strategy to get where we want to go. As Stephen Covey (renowned educator, businessman, speaker and author of bestselling book The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People) said, “We may be very busy, we may be very efficient, but we will also be truly effective only when we begin with the end in mind.”
As someone who counsels financial advisors, I know this is a strategy they deploy with their clients. The advisor helps his clients to think about where they want to wind up in order to provide the right advice on how to manage and invest their money, readying them for the best possible future. These advisors are not fortune-tellers, so their advice serves to guide clients according to a plan, hopefully enabling them to achieve their goals.
While even the best plans may need to be adjusted along the way to adapt to the unknown, one thing is certain: Without looking forward and striving for specific goals, we find ourselves floundering, mired in minutia and dragged by the current instead of flowing with it…living with a feeling that we are getting nowhere.
In life, the biggest investment you can make is in yourself. And just like investing in the stock market, the only “certainty” is your decision to make that investment. How much you invest, where and when are part of that decision-making process. You lay the groundwork based on the knowledge that you acquire, the goals you are hoping to achieve and the amount of risk you’re willing to take. Once you have all those parts in place, you need to move aside and let the process work; practicing patience, taking an occasional pulse check, monitoring progress and making adjustments along the way.
So let’s contrast this with throwing money into a slot machine and pulling the handle. The wheels spin, and you get a lemon, a cherry and “7”. You put another coin in, this time a “7”, a cherry and a bar. Frustrated, but still feeling hopeful that “3 times a charm”, you toss another coin in and pull the handle…
The bottom line is this: While in your mind you “planned” to win, the odds of winning a game of chance are against you.
So how do we find a way to “that point” – let’s say one year out – where we have achieved the goal we desire? As Covey said, “begin with the end in mind.” Consider these 8 steps:
While these 8 steps may seem simple, so many avoid planning and looking ahead, often fearing that failure is inevitable. My point to you is this: Living your life day-to-day, without longer-term goals or a plan to move you forward is like pulling the handle on that slot machine…over…and over…mindlessly feeding the machine and not setting a goal that can reward you well beyond the moment.
You CAN set a goal and “fill in the blank” with that happy ending you desire. Make today the day you start.
Originally published at bestbusinesslife.com