Life Plans Are Challenging

Balance is an important element of life planning.  Perhaps understanding balance would make it a little easier to achieve success.

The word “Balance” has many meanings, but for the purpose of life planning two matter the most:

From Wikipedia

  • definition 2) – a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions.
  • definition 3) – keep or put (something) in a steady position so that it does not fall

For most of us balancing life means to create a steady position.  To do so we must arrange the elements in the correct proportions.

Easy so far.  But “How?” is the difficult question.

There are many aspects to life planning.  While not exhaustive and not in any priority order the list includes:

  1. Health
  2. Relationships
  3. Personal growth
  4. Spirituality
  5. Happiness/Joy
  6. Income and wealth

All arranged on a non-reversible time line where the relative importance changes. No do overs and you are not sure what you will want ahead of time.

We know some things about the balancing act.

Focusing on one aspect to the exclusion of the others is a failing tactic for many.   Accumulation of wealth to the exclusion of health and relationships is a common and usually tragic story.

Focusing on conditions as they exist at a particular time usually fails.  The future is not clear, but we know it will be different.  Present-self, acting on the present situation, may be creating insurmountable challenges for future-self. 

The pursuit of happiness can become an obsession and so distort the balance.  Sometimes you must do things you don’t like doing.

Arriving at a workable answer is difficult and it requires constant attention.  A perfect balance today could be nearly completely different in a year. Maybe the birth of your first child.

The defense method is multi-faceted.

  1. Know, in some detail, what your priority list looks like.
  2. Know, but in less detail, how you expect it to evolve.
  3. Know what you must do to change effectively
  4. Understand the randomness of the future.  (Things sometimes do not work out as they should.  Job loss, illness in the family, death, war, social mores change)
  5. Have an idea of what you would do if ……………….
  6. Neither over-solve a problem nor overdevelop an opportunity.

Most of all, it is like juggling.  Have a reserve.  No one drops just one ball.  If they are overloaded, they drop them all.  If you can juggle seven balls and have only five in the air at any time, you have room for a surprise.  Picking balls up is a waste of time and resources so give yourself a little room.

The life plan requires that you understand its pieces, develop skills to manage the pieces more easily, anticipate the future, cover off catastrophic risks, review the parts continuously, and revise your actions as necessary.

Ego and pride get in the way.  Try to minimize them.

How hard can that be?


Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international public accounting firm and is now with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario.

This entry was posted in Decision Making, Personal Finance, Planning and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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