Predicting vs. Planning

Predicting vs. Planning


Right on the heals of all the “Happy New Year” greetings in January come the inevitable predictions about the future on just about every topic imaginable. It is an ancient phenomenon, this deep human desire to know what is going to happen before it happens—an attempt to gain power over fear, I suppose.

Mere “predictions” are not really what people want; they want foreknowledge, certainty. They want to know what is going to happen, which is why throughout history there has never been a shortage of psychics, fortune tellers, or other soothsayers. If you want to talk to one today, you can probably find one in your own neighborhood, and if you don’t happen to know where there is one close to you, hundreds of them await your internet search.

Ironically, along side this age-old desire to know what is going to happen before it happens, is an opposite tendency for people to deny or ignore the actual facts that surround them and take tremendous risks instead. While people want certainty about the future, they are willing to gamble on a daily basis with their money, and in one way or another, their health and their lives.
Life is hard, and we are complex, perplexing creatures. So let’s cut to the chase. Here is a certain prediction you can base your life on: some good things are going to happen, and some bad things are going to happen. Now what?

Planning for the future and predicting the future are two very different things, but most definitely connected. It is precisely because we cannot predict the future with certainty that we need to plan for it. Without a plan, at best we are just holding our breath and crossing our fingers that it will all somehow work out; at worst, we are playing a dangerous version of Russian Roulette.

At Bell we care about the quality of people’s lives, not just the quantity of their assets. We believe that a “good life”—whatever you say that is—is what most people want, but we also know from experience that wanting a good life and making it happen are two different things. It’s definitely not magic. But it’s not impossible either.

This is why in addition to Investment Management Services, we offer comprehensive Financial Planning and Career & Life Coaching as well. We also offer a combination package that includes a Retirement Outlook, which specifies the probability of success of your various retirement goals, and a series of Life Coaching appointments to help you gain clarity about what you say a good life is or would be for you, and then to help you develop an actionable Plan you can begin working on today to get to where you say you want to go in the future. Basically, the elements that add up to a “good life” include the following:

where you live—your geographical location and living space
• who you are with—your partner or not, your family, friends, community
• what you care about—living your values
• what you want—now and in the future
• what you love—making sure you incorporate the activities you love, and
• how much money you will need to make it all happen.

I recently completed work on one such Making a Good Life HappenSM package with one of our Investment Management clients. She is in her middle-fifties, working in a high-powered position, and was worried about the future. Especially in light of the market downturn, she was not sure if she would be able to afford to retire any time soon, and if so, what would she want to do next?

Now she has answers rather than just questions. She tells me she is not only sleeping better, but excited about her future. She knows when she is going to retire—age 58; how much money she will have to live on (under $100K per year); and she has a Life Plan to guide her actions beginning NOW. For her, that includes taking a graduate level class in the subject she loves most, in the field she will pursue following retirement. She may continue to work in her current field as a consultant if she wants to earn additional income, but she will not have to. She is already involved in several activities she loves, but has plans for doing more of that in the future.

Will some good things and some bad things happen in her life? Yes. Will she implement every detail of her Life Plan and bring it to perfection? Probably not. Will she win the lottery? Who knows? Will she “meet someone”? Who knows? These are not the things we can know for certain. But with clear thinking about who she is, what she wants, and a Life Plan in hand to guide her toward the future she wants, I think we can bet that she will have a pretty good life.

Please feel free to call me to inquire about any of our planning offers. We can always arrange for a free consultation to discuss the details.

Our dear Bonnie Bonetti-Bell was the force behind our Career/Life Coaching services, until her passing in 2019. As a principal of our firm, Bonnie had an innate talent for seeing the best in people. Moreover, she helped others see the best in themselves. Bonnie is fondly remembered and deeply missed.

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