Written by: Tony Christensen, CFP®, CHFC®, Founding Partner
I recently embarked on an adventure to the California coast with my wife and 3 kids hoping to capture a little rest & relaxation. Prior to every vacation my kids find it challenging, if not impossible, to sleep as their excitement levels build each day that draws closer to our departure. On those nights they ask, “Dad, how many sleeps until California?”, and following my response I chuckle at their chatter as they contemplate which ride they’ll pick first and which ones they’ll steer clear of. Being a kid at heart, I too, am counting down the days to our arrival at this fun filled destination.
Unfortunately, there is one thing we must face each time we venture toward the beach in California…TRAFFIC! As we passed Victorville and descended into the California Valley, the traffic began to build just as I had anticipated. On this particular trip though, my attention was drawn to the way in which I drove and how my path determined my destination.
It is common knowledge there are multiple lanes to choose from when traveling the freeways in California. This allows the driver to decipher which of those lanes will be most efficient for their travel needs. I realized that the further I was from my destination, the more it made sense to simply stay in the far-left lane to avoid the multitude of cars entering and exiting the freeway. However, there were times I found myself being absorbed by the cars around me rather than keeping focused on my destination.
It was during this cognizance that I would abandon my plan and change lanes in hopes that it would decrease my travel time. I’d focus my attention on the car I “would have” been behind determined to prove that my lane-change was the ultimate move. As some of you may relate, I was forced to push my ego aside and watch that car continue to move forward and quickly disappear from my view all together. As we inched closer to our destination however, I made my move into the middle lanes preparing to exit.
Why was I okay to move into the slower middle and far right lanes as we got closer to our exit? Because I needed the utmost assurance I wasn’t going to miss my exit. It’s interesting to note that when I focused solely on my destination or exit, I had no concern or care for what the cars around me were doing. This experience also provided two distinct insights.
In the awe-inspiring book “Alice in Wonderland”, we are taught an extremely valuable lesson as quoted:
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”
“I don’t much care where –”
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”
Without a destination, we cannot choose a path or find joy in our journey. It will always compare to someone or something else, who may have an entirely different purpose or destination.
Increasingly apparent are 2 different emotions entering the market more so than we have seen for some years…FEAR and GREED. These emotions are driving investors to focus on the speed at which they are driving rather than the lane in which they should be traveling in to safely & securely arrive at their destination.
As you look at your financial plan and investment structure, ask yourself if your destination is clearly defined. What is it that you are truly wanting or trying to accomplish? Recognizing that will help you determine which lane you should be in and ultimately allow you greater peace because you know its where you need to be in order to get you where you want.