Sep 5, 2023
Working Wealthy—There Is No Finish Line
The other day, I was catching up with an old friend over the phone, and he mentioned that he’s still diligently working toward “hitting his number.” And he’s getting close. Considering how long we’ve been friends, I wasn’t surprised to hear him use the same vernacular we often use with our wealth management clients when building their financial plans. Not only was I proud to hear him say he is closing in on his ultimate financial goal, but I was also curious about what was next for him. What will he do next, when he retires or steps away from work?
There was silence on the other end of the line.
Reflecting on the call, I realize now that it was an unfair question to ask at what should’ve been a triumphant point of our call. However, it reminded me how the goal setting that’s integral to the financial planning process can be both so wonderful and wicked all at the same time. In other words, hitting your financial milestones is a lifelong pursuit punctuated by figuring out what to do next.
I’ve worked with many different people over the years, and it seems there are a few major points to keep in mind as you get closer to hitting your number or achieving a significant financial goal. Let’s consider three of them:
- Hit your number—and be good with it. Yep, that’s a lot easier said than done. The person who hits their milestone of X inevitably wants X + N. But that only leads to a perpetual hamster wheel.
If the “+ N” part of the equation is truly meaningful to you, at least give yourself a chance to take a step back and understand how meaningful getting to X has been for you. Celebrate the victory before raising the bar.
It’s human nature to feel like more is better, but honestly ask yourself if you’ll do the same thing the next time you hit your target number.
- It’s the journey—not the destination, right? Let me guess, you’ve heard that one before.
As overworked as it may be, this expression provides a good context for approaching a financial goal and eventually achieving it.
Be aware of the potential that your singular focus on a fiscal milestone may end up closing your eyes to the enjoyment of your hard work, and may cause you to lack gratitude for those who have helped you achieve this milestone.
- There’s no scoreboard—so stop checking how everyone else is doing.
It’s a bit like the cyclist who never looks over her shoulder and is dumbfounded to discover she’s won the race by a tremendous gap. She simply focused on what she could control and won out.
Friends, neighbors, competitors—you name it—can be a distraction to what you have set as your goals. Don’t let others influence the outcomes you know will work for you and your family.
Someone will always have more than you, and someone will certainly have less. Letting go of knowing the score for every golfer on the course will allow you to dial in on your swing and play your best round.
Admittedly, it’s quite easy for me to write these words without having to put them into action, but I hope these small reminders can help you “hit your number” while also winning at the game of life.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nick Cosky, CFP
Nick is a Partner, Wealth Advisor in our Itasca, IL, office. In his role, Nick is primarily responsible for introducing prospective clients to the firm. Nick served as the head of legacy firm BDF’s Financial Planning Committee and has participated on the Business Owner Team. He is passionate about the goals-based planning that BDF does for its clients and enjoys focusing on the behavioral aspects of decision-making. Nick is a CFP® professional.
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