Man plans, God laughs …

Recently, I wrote a post agreeing with Ric Edelman who says that the three most typical financial goals (buying a house, saving for college, and retirement) are a fait accompli [already certain] so why bother?

This opened up a whole plethora of comments relating to goal-setting; for example, Moneymonk says:

I do not think it’s a goal, it become one when you say ” I want to put a down payment of x,xxx on a house, I want xx,xxx in my son’s college account by 18. I want to have x,xxx,xxx by the age 65 in my fund. It when you put a specific amount on it, then it becomes your personal goal.

And, if that’s what you want to do, Caprica conveniently points us to Tim Ferris’ goal-setting process:

I think Tim Ferris has covered this topic in his 4 hour work week book best.

There are doing, being and having goals. Having 7 million dollars is a reasonable “having” goal. It is a good definite goal.

While having a few “having” goals is all well and good, Tim advises to look beyond “having” goals and look more at those things you wished you had time for. These are your “doing” goals (i.e. what do you want to do that you wish you could always do? e.g. play the piano, learn to sky dive, paint, build, etc) and your “being” goals (i.e. what kind of role do you wish you could fulfill with your family (e.g. a good dad), friends (e.g. a helping hand) or become a pillar of the community (e.g. charity worker)).

Tim Ferris, in his interesting book called the “Four Hour Workweek” – although, I can’t figure why anybody would want to work that much 😉 – introduces an interesting exercise called ‘Dreamlining’; he says:

Create two timelines–6 months and 12 months—and list up to 5 things you dream of having (including, but not limited to, material wants: house, car, clothing, etc.), being (be a great cook, be fluent in Chinese, etc.), and doing (visiting Thailand, tracing your roots overseas, racing ostriches, etc.) in that order. If you have difficulty identifying what you want in some categories, as most will, consider what you hate or fear in each and write down the opposite. Do not limit yourself, and do not concern yourself with how these things will be accomplished…This is an exercise in reversing repression.

Now, Tim’s worksheets are great, but when you write your Rear Deck Speech properly (from my 7 Millionaires … In Training! ‘grand experiment’), you will find that it encapsulates the true ‘being goals’ that Tim talks about, and it does it in a really powerful way: by ‘forcing’ you to look back on your life after it is (almost) done.

If you really think deeply about this, the most important aspects of your life are all about ‘being’, not ‘having’, a least not in a purely materialistic sense …

As to the ‘having’ goals, they are important too, and this process and worksheet should help you to think through this.

Here is the way that I think about it:

To start any journey, you need a Destination and then you need to decide when you intend to get there and choose your mode of transport accordingly. You also need to ensure that you have enough money to buy the gas or tickets.

Financially speaking, your ‘destination’ – or the only one that really counts – is your Life’s Purpose … it’s your final stop, after all!

But, the real purpose of this exercise, from a financial perspective, is that it helps you to find you Number (the ‘fuel’ that you need to get there), your Date ( the ‘when’ you want to be ‘financially free’), and the method that you will use to get there (saving, business, investing – real estate, stocks, options, etc.).

Now, some people then like to sit down with a map and travel guide and plan every stop and way-point along the road (a.k.a. ‘intermediate goal-setting’) … for others just traveling the road and taking whatever stops that seem interesting/necessary along the way is good enough.

So, if you then want to do some serious goal-setting of the MoneyMonk kind, don’t let me stop you … it’s probably a very good thing to do!

… but, whenever I try that, I am always painfully aware of how difficult life is to plan.

Who was it who first said: “When Man plans, God laughs?”

Be Sociable, Share!

0 thoughts on “Man plans, God laughs …

  1. I believe it’s a yiddish saying – “Mann “plans” und Gott lacht,” tho it seems much of that is in German.

    In a way, AJC, your plan is an insurance plan for those of us who -unlike Tim Ferriss – have fewer years left to recover if something were to happen to our ability to continue living that dream life. It gives us more headroom than simply “earning dollars while living on pesos” and wondering who will pay for medical needs if and when we need it, something most of us didn’t have to consider when we were Tim’s age. I love his book personally, and am trying to adapt what I can to my own needs. I’m glad to see you also seem to have taken points of his in while not simply ripping up your life and traveling to India to find your guro and “simplify your life” as one blogger seems to have done.

    I took a first step last week. Unplanned. Yet it could have been planned as I’ve been working toward that unplanned conversation for about six months. We will see how things work out next.

  2. @ Di – my guru is in Hermosa Beach, CA … HIS guru is in India 😛

    @ Jeff – Actually, I think we are saying the OPPOSITE 🙂 It all depends on the planning timeframe … my view is that once we get to timeframes spanning many years, having the ultimate destination in mind (Number/Date) is sufficient … you will have plenty of opportunity to make a whole series of “today/tomorrow” plans of your ‘plan twice’ type depending on what you encounter as you go along ….

  3. PS Di – Yiddish is a mixture of German, Hungarian, Hebrew, and a few other languages thrown in for good measure …

Leave a Reply