The Harvard University conducted a research into the personal planning habits of a selected group of its graduates. They came up with some interesting statistics: 27 per cent of them had no plan for the future; 60 per cent had given it some thought but mainly in the area of finance; 10 per cent had a fairly good idea of their future plans and aspirations; only the last three per cent had clear, written goals about their future. Not surprisingly, it was these people who went on to become the most successful of the lot in the long run.
A plan is a proposed or intended course of action. It is a formulated scheme setting out stages of procedures. Whereas a person’s goal defines the desired end or destination, the plan maps out the route to that end. To fail to plan is to plan to fail. Without a plan, one may have a clear goal and yet use wrong strategies or approaches and end up unsuccessful.
Let us consider the case of someone planning to raise a million dollars in five years. The key questions for the person would be: How much do I have now? How much can I save or invest over the period if I continue to earn what I do now? Will it be enough? If not, what would be the difference required? How can I make up that difference? Who would I need to work with? After answering these important questions, the person may be in a good position to plan on a yearly, monthly, weekly and daily basis exactly what to do to eventually get the million dollars.
Planning allows you to maximise the limited time, money and other resources you have and utilise them efficiently for the most important things in your life. As a result, you end up wasting much less than you would have without a plan.
Have you ever found an old piece of paper in your suitcase and chided yourself because it contained your own forgotten plans that if you had followed would have made you much more successful now? Plans must be written and put up or kept close by to be functional. Without documentation, a plan would merely pass for a bunch of ideas.
Write out your plans now. Draft them on sheets or poster paper and then copy them into something more permanent. Give time to the planning process and you are likely to cut short the length of time needed to get your desired results. Start with the longer-term plan and break it down into smaller plans.
• Your five-year plan is for your ideas, dreams and goals. The focus is on the general direction of your life or what is intended.
• Your one-year plan will have projects that you have formulated or planned. The focus is on what is being planned.
• Your one-month plan will list current projects: deadlines, prioritised tasks, basic daily or weekly routines. This is about what is actually being done.
Long-term plans are more general while short-term ones tend to be more specific. The level of definiteness increases as the time gets shorter. Successful planning also requires you to have a contingency or back-up plan.
This is an alternative arrangement you would make in case any of the assumptions of your plan changes significantly. You may sometimes plan your day very rigidly, but you would have to accommodate emergencies or seize unexpected opportunities that are not factored in your plan.
Your commitment to your plans must be matched by flexibility in their implementation.
Today’s world is run at the pace of a Formula One race. The so-called rat race has everyone scrambling to outdo and overtake the competition; real or imaginary. Today’s business or corporate executives struggle to satisfy one steep target only to find a whole new range of requirements waiting beyond. In the words of former South African President Nelson Mandela, “After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.”
Over 80 per cent of people think and worry about money all the time. Majority of the anxieties, fears, health issues and problems people face in relationships can all be traced to issues concerning money; not the abundance of it but the lack of it. Achieving financial freedom is one of the most engaging preoccupations of human beings. To be financially free is to have enough money so that you do not have to worry about it continually.
One of the surest keys to financial freedom is investment. Simply put, to invest is to put away financial or other resources over a period of time in order to generate interest or growth. You can create wealth and truly live a financially independent life if you start investing early over a long period of time. Investing towards a secure financial future is an important choice you must make if you want to achieve great things and live a fulfilled life.
You are not too young or too old to invest. Start investing today towards your dream house, further education or retirement. For instance, you can set a target to become a millionaire through investment in 20 years. All it takes is to ask an investment analyst or to work out how much you need to put away per month for 240 months at an assumed interest rate. This is not rocket science; you can decide to start right away.
No matter how little you earn, you can actually leave an inheritance for your children and even your ’yet-to-be-born’ grandchildren by opening investment accounts for their education and putting away little sums of money over a long period of time. It could be as little as one per cent of your income, but because of time and compound interest, the results could be very amazing and ultimately very fulfilling.