Financial Focus

How to clearly navigate your financial life

Footsteps

Time doesn't wait for us to catch up—it's time to Think-Plan-Act!

Walking through the woods; other than the sound of a squawking bird or a chattering squirrel, the only sounds came from my feet on the ground. Hearing only my footsteps and my breathing was a great sense of peace to accompany the quiet. Time to think is rare and precious-no music, no radio, no conversation. My brain focuses on the next step on the path and not on life. One mile becomes two and two becomes three. My mind wanders to thoughts of the future and what might lie ahead-and not just around the next bend on the trail.

At 58, the chances are, I have gone further than I have to go; which is a scary way of saying my mortality isn't all that far away. A piece of reality but disturbing-didn't I just graduate from high school? The future will certainly hold a market basket of possibilities; from wonderful and exciting to devastating. But as I walk, I begin to think in terms of "controllables" and "uncontrollables". Those items I can control are items like: my savings vs. spending, what I eat, the amount of pressure I allow to penetrate beyond my exterior and my focus on family, friends, work and other interests. The items in which I cannot control would be things like, health (only controllable to a limited degree), the economy and by extension-the stock markets, interest rates and the price of gasoline.

The future is in front of me and the path I've walked behind. What did I learn and how can I use it to make today and ultimately tomorrow better? The thoughts overwhelmed me by the magnitude of the choices. So many options, possible outcomes and decisions that lay ahead. In reality, all I need to do was stop this line of thinking and take a deep breath. The future would have to wait; the only thing I could do was to try and make good decisions day to day. Building and supporting good habits and working to improve those aspects less constructive-it's a moment-to moment affair.

Amidst the morass of choices, there are basic money truths that exist:

1. Living your values is the highest form of self-worth.

2. Money you spend today is not going to be there tomorrow; so make each decision count.

3. Poor money habits will not change themselves; it takes understanding, determination and the will to change.

4. Life balance and money balance is synonymous.

5. The stock market does not care who you are and will not move according to your schedule, desire or expectation.

6. The greater your resilience the better the chances you will be able to adapt to the unknowns.

As you walk into your future, how well are you positioned to live the next phase of your life according to your dreams, goals and values?

The sound of my footsteps crunching the newly fallen leaves is echoing in my head—it's time to rejoin life and move forward.

Michael Kay, a Certified Financial Planner, practitioner and a CPA, is president of the firm Financial Focus.

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