Uncomfortable Planning


The back of my neck is throbbing right now, I can feel my temples tightening, and my shoulders are all knotted up. What’s going on with me right now? I’m doing planning and budgeting for 2019. My clients, whose fiscal and calendar years match, have budgets and plans that are due on November 15th, so I’m in the same boat they are trying to get this done on time. Maybe I’m an aberration, but planning is so stressful. The question is why?

Back in January of 1997, my then-wife, Tiffany, and I welcomed a whopping 4 lb. 15 oz baby girl into the world. I remember my first thought when the neonatologist held her the first time, “She looks just like a baby pterodactyl.” Now, I’m talking the absolute cutest pterodactyl that has ever been seen, but a pterodactyl nonetheless. Since Daryan, the baby, was so young, she stayed in the neonatal unit for 13 days basking in the bright lights of her incubator to fight off jaundice.

For many children in this situation, born five weeks early, this time can be perilous and heart-breaking for the parents who are never able to take their baby home. We were blessed to take home our 5 lb 8 oz bag of sugar. Looking back on that time, I don’t ever remember worrying one day about whether or not she would be okay. I did for the first time feel mortal (which I guess is a common thought for a first-time dad), but not once did I even consider my daughter’s mortality. Ahh, the bliss of 25-year-old ignorance.


Planning changes based on your situation

Now that I’m 47, I understand all the things that can go wrong with people and in life. I have had a negative bank account, seen my family fall apart, and had physical, mental, and emotional failures. These experiences bring a harsh reality to an outlook on life. At that time, we didn’t have much money, but we had the Cute Baby (one of her 231 official nicknames) and that was all that mattered. Fast forward to 2018 and the goal is to actually put my family and our staff’s families in the best position to be successful. Knowing what can go wrong puts additional stress on planning for the future. Yes, it can truly make it uncomfortable.

It’s for this reason that many choose not to plan. Why face the failures and demons of the past when ignorance is bliss? Avoid, ignore, excuse or deny. Whatever it takes to face reality. We all know long term this doesn’t work. The stress of planning prevents the stress of actually living through chaos. When I had no money and bills coming due, it was stressful. Amazingly though, I also remember waking up from times of having excess money and stressing about how to best invest it too. I’ve learned that having a plan helps give me a guide to the long-term goal of retirement. By working things out ahead of time, I have a framework to reference when reality deviates from my carefully crafted plan.

Finally, greatness is about being comfortable being uncomfortable. I know this has been a theme of these blogs, but it’s a truth that requires reinforcement. Greatness requires us to embrace what will hurt (physically, mentally, emotionally, or physically). For many, this is a crazy proposition. For the rest of us, it’s a great opportunity.

What stress are you avoiding that you should be embracing knowing the reward will be well worth your efforts?

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