Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly
– Langston Hughes
I love that poem. I’ve had it on my wall and in my mind since I was in grade school. I like words. Words are important. I think words have incredible power: to harm, to heal, to encourage, to enlighten. Few things have that much power. A few of them can impact a person forever.
As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Nothing can happen if not first a dream”. What is a dream, really? A dream is a goal. How do get to a goal? You need a plan. A dream without a plan is like a road trip without a destination. You will eventually end up somewhere, but it may not be where you want to be.
I think everyone should engage in some sort of financial planning. Everyone has a financial goal or need that is worth planning for. A plan will not predict everything for you down to the penny. It won’t guarantee that your last check bounces, the day after your funeral! It will, however, act as a guide along the way to let you know if you are on target.
Regardless of age, employment or life situation, there is something out there that you aspire to. Some people just want to make it through the day or to the next weekend, and that’s fine. Everyone has different goals.
Think about it. What do you really want that is not in your life right now? The answer to that question forms the basis of any financial planning discussion. I have four small children and I want them to be able to go to whatever college they want and pursue whatever they want in life. That’s a dream for me right now, but a dream is all it will ever be if I don’t have a plan in place. Some people, when asked about colllege or retirement, respond that things ” Have a way of coming together”. Well, uhh, no they don’t!
Maybe, like me, you have others that rely on you to provide opportunities that are way off in the distance. Maybe you’ve accomplished quite a bit already. Well, then what do you want your legacy to be? Long after you are gone, how will people speak of you. There is a saying that you actually die twice: once at your physical death and the second when the last person on Earth that remembers you, dies.
The most common financial planning goals are related to retirement funding and education for dependents. Other people want to leave a philanthropic legacy. A very common hope that I have heard in the last few years is that people ” Don’t want to be a burden” when they grow old. I’ve heard that “I just want enough money to bury me and then I’m happy”. That’s somewhat of a boring goal but is it not threaded with legacy and not being a burden????
If you’re having trouble coming up with goals to plan and dreams to dream, consider these questions:
– What is important to me, right now, financially? What do I worry about?
– What have I seen others go through that I know I definitely want to plan to avoid?
– How do I want to be remembered? What will my children say?
Then let’s put together a plan!