This week I read The Icarus Deception, a great book by Seth Godin. In the book, Godin argues that there are a number of “rules” passed on to us by society that aren’t necessarily good guides as we navigate our rapidly changing world. They might also be harmful tools to share with the next generation as they compete in this global information economy. As I read the book, I thought about words of wisdom that my parents passed to me like “better safe than sorry” or “good things come to those that wait”. While some big fish might swim to your boat and take your lure, is that the best strategy?
Most of what I know about fishing and hunting I’ve learned from my great friend Buzz. When fishing with Buzz in Canada, I’ve watched him change lures and cast a dozen times before I get my first lure in the water. He has a great deal of patience, but he would never wait for good things to happen to him. He has a vision of what he wants to catch and will not wait for a fish to come by his line. Buzz will actively change strategies to find and catch his trophy fish. You have to be quick to keep up with him, but if you are, you will typically be where the fish are. While it is possible that he misses trophy fish by changing lures or moving to different locations too quickly, my experience with Buzz tells me his proactive style creates success on the water, and his fishing journey are certainly more exciting than others’.
Twenty-seven years of planning for clients’ wealth has taught me that good things don’t necessarily come to those who wait to properly plan. Clients’ needs and goals change from year to year as they pass through different stages of life. Plans originated at the start of your career cannot possibly address all the issues you face as you look to retire. New laws that impact your goals are added and changed every year, so plans need to be updated as laws, tax rules and financial markets change. I have witnessed the struggles family members face because parents waited too long to make their plans that would help their family get prepared to inherit wealth. Moreover, if you aren’t adjusting your income and estate tax plan to respond to IRS rule changes, you will unnecessarily transfer wealth from your family to the IRS.
As I look at the cartoon below, I think about the risks in following someone else’s path, having no path at all or waiting for luck to come your way Should you just keep your nose to the grindstone and accept the way the ball bounces? I don’t think so. To catch the personal, professional, financial or other trophy fish you are going after, don’t wait for good things to happen. Proactively step out of your comfort zone to prepare and implement a plan to catch your dream fish. A plan will give you more control over how you catch it and the rivers and streams or oceans you fish in.
Tim Scannell, CPA, CFPTM provides Personal and Business Tax Planning, Estate Planning, Investment Management, and Generational Wealth management to his clients. “We strive to deliver transparent, proactive, independent, and comprehensive planning and communications to the families we work for”.