*This post was originally published on June 4, 2018.
Building the habit of consistently assessing your finances and evaluating if your plan remains the best course of action for your circumstances, is an integral part of achieving Financial Freedom.
Life priorities and our related goals evolve as we mature. Our circumstances can change quickly due to a multitude of factors, some of which are far beyond our control. So it’s vital to be able to employ critical thinking and tweak or completely restructure your plan as needed.
But it’s also equally as important to recognize when doing nothing at all is actually the right move.
Trying To Do Too Much
A common trait I see in people who are actively seeking Financial Freedom is that they are often eager to reassess and employ new strategies. Freedom seekers are generally pretty motivated, think outside the box type of people, so implementing change and being open to new ideas is typically not a problem.
Conversely knowing when to stay the course, being patient and changing nothing, that tends to be a lot more difficult. Just look at the reactions of investors to the recent market behaviour.
When staying the course was put to the test, people bailed. Hard.
And lost a lot of money in doing so.
Getting distracted by new and interesting opportunities, or making unnecessary changes, can pull your focus from your overall goal. Even derail the most solid of financial plans.
Patience Can Feel Like You’re Doing Nothing
Towards the end of our journey to Financial Freedom, Mike and I found this to be one of our biggest challenges.
We would constantly struggle with the urge to do something. Do more.
To make changes, a bold move, invest in a new opportunity, or try our hand at a new business. To feel like we were actively pushing the envelope of our path to Financial Freedom.
It’s the very drive that got us on the path in the first place. But instead of running with it, we found ourselves having to consciously rein it in.
Because the reality is, even in our final years of reaching Financial Freedom, we didn’t need to take any big risks or deviate from the plan. The plan was working. In all of its simplicity.
What we needed was to be patient. To allow the plan to unfold to its completion.
In truth, it was the hardest part of the whole process.
There were many times when we felt like we were doing NOTHING. But looking back, what we were really doing was allowing the hard work that took place at the front end of the plan, (reducing expenses, increasing income, saving more, improving our investment strategy), we were letting all of that HAPPEN.
In many ways, a great financial plan is a lot like a garden.
It takes a ton of work, heavy lifting, big changes, and lots of decisions at the front end. You’ve got to heavily prune away the excess, completely remove items that are too invasive or don’t work with the overall goal, and have the vision to see what the space can become.
Small trims, ensuring the soil is ideal, little tweaks, but essentially you are allowing it to grow.
Giving it time and opportunity to develop into the masterpiece you envisioned.
A sound financial plan can be approached in exactly the same fashion.
Don’t forget about the maintenance, but once it’s rolling, give it the time it needs to grow.
For motivated people, exercising patience is easier said than done. But, one way to do exactly that, is to regularly reflect on the total progress since you started your plan.
While changes may not be dramatic when looking at just a month or two snapshot, when you step back and assess a year, two, three+, it can be really invigorating to see just how far you’ve come.
It can also give you the confidence to know that what you are doing is working, and the fortitude to remain patient and stick with it.
Mike and I still employ this strategy on a monthly, if not weekly basis. We frequently talk about where we were just a matter of years ago, and what we’ve been able to accomplish in a relatively short period of time.
Not only did that practice serve as fuel to keep us patient and focussed on our Financial Freedom plan, it now provides a great opportunity to practice gratitude and reflect on just how thankful we are. And motivates us to remain focussed on our next goals.
So the next time the urge to change your financial plan strikes, or what seems like an undeniably great investment opportunity crops up, stop for a moment and ask yourself if that change will serve to improve your overall plan?
Or will it pull valuable focus and resources away from what you are really trying to achieve?
If your answer consists of the latter, doing nothing may just be the better option.