There is No Certainty in Financial Planning
"Everything flows and nothing abides, everything gives way and nothing says fixed."
Life is impermanent. Everything changes, flows and evolves. There is no certainty, nothing is guaranteed. Although most of us understand this to be true about life, when it comes to our financial future, we still crave certainty and guaranteed outcomes. We want to be assured that everything will work out just the way we planned. However we have no idea what is in store for us within our financial lives. All we can do is be open to what life presents us and learn and grow from the many changes and evolutions we face.
Many people meet with a financial planner to help them plan out their financial future and confirm if they are on track toward their goals. They come craving the certainty of what financial planning will do for them. But just like in life, there is no certainty in financial planning. While financial planning does help address very specific questions, the bigger value of financial planning comes from becoming educated on sound principles to help with the uncertainty of life. There are so many things we cannot control; tax laws, the economy, the stock market, life events, catastrophes and yet subconsciously, we still cling to the idea that financial planning will bring us certain outcomes in our financial lives. To put this into perspective, a person who still craves certainty in their financial lives might say things like:
“If I invest in ABC investment company, I want to make sure I do not lose any money but still get a higher return than my savings account.”
“I don’t need disability insurance because I will never get too sick or injured to work and make a living. I can always work from home and do some consulting work to pay my bills.”
“I don’t need to have a cash cushion because I will always have enough money to cover any unexpected expenses that may arise.”
All of these statements reflect a mindset of clinging to the certainty of an outcome occurring or not occurring. When you have this type of mindset, you may feel upset, anger, anxiety, shame, or guilt over what you expected to happen that didn’t. I have made the same mistake of letting this mindset take over in my own financial life and business, trying to control the outcome of everything. It’s more comfortable for me to think everything will work out the way I have planned. But life is not linear. And when we think this way, we limit ourselves to the endless possibilities of how things can be. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that financial planning is not necessary. I actually believe because we have no idea how our life will unfold, financial planning becomes even more important. Becoming proactive with your finances and creating a solid financial foundation will allow for more flexibility when life stirs everything up or knocks you completely over.
Having an “in the moment” mindset within your financial life will help reduce your need to cling to certainty and instead just appreciate where you are and what you can learn from it. By being in the moment, you can be aware of where you currently stand, access the situation for what it is and then take proactive steps to improve it. I notice when clients embrace this mindset and attitude with their finances, they become lighter, and experience more joy and happiness with their financial situation. They are easier on themselves about how they handle money as they view everything as a work in progress, a learning experience that is part of the journey. They show up to what is in their financial lives, and are willing and ready to move past whatever challenges they currently face. They may say things like:
“It is what it is.”
“I am ready and willing to work on improving the situation.”
“Where there is a will, there is a way.”
They understand they are responsible for everything in their financial lives, the good and the bad and accept it for what it is rather than what they thought it “should” be. They know they cannot control outcomes, only influence them at best, and so that is where they focus their energy. They view everything as a learning experience and don’t attach any unnecessary meaning to the feelings or thoughts they have regarding their financial situation. This type of mindset takes practice, dedication and hard work but once you can let go of the idea of certainty in your financial life and instead stay in the moment, everything will seem simpler. It will still be hard but at least it will be simpler.
Call to Action:
So what do you do from here? Where do you start if you want to be more okay with the uncertainty of everything in your financial life? You can practice staying in the moment by starting your day off by asking yourself this question:
“How do I want to feel about my financial life?”
Do you want to feel secure, confident, proud, happy, content, or stressed, anxious, and worried? Once you know how you want to feel, create meaningful goals from these feelings. For example, if you want to feel calm about your finances, you may decide to devote 20 minutes a day to reviewing your finances. This could mean paying your bills, reviewing your accounts or constantly being mindful about your spending. To give you a jumpstart, every morning for the next 30 days, wake up and write out your answer to this question: “How do I want to feel about my financial life?” If you can do this every day for the next 30 days, then you well on your way to creating a new habit that will lead you into a new mindset and lifestyle change.