We've all heard the old line: "People don't plan to fail; they just fail to plan." It's important to recognize that there are specific reasons people often fail to plan, and knowing these reasons is half the battle on the journey to success.
Procrastination. The main reason people often fail to accomplish their goals is due to procrastination—putting off what can be done today until tomorrow. The problem is "tomorrow" never comes. Defeating procrastination is all about setting deadlines. Instead of saying, "I am going to open an IRA," it's better to say, "I am going to open an IRA by the end of the month." When you have a deadline, you can accomplish goals more easily.
Don't know where to start. The first step is always the hardest. Putting everything down on paper can help make the first and smallest step easier. For example, if you are choosing a financial planner, the first step could be visiting the Certified Financial Planner Web site (http://www.cfp.net) and making a list of the Certified Financial Planners closest to your office or home. Remember, the first step is always the most important, even if you make it the smallest.
Goals are too big. Many people set goals that are way over their head, and when it comes time to deliver, they fail miserably. Break down your goals into smaller steps. For instance, if you want to put your financial life in order this year, break down that major goal into smaller pieces. First, choose a financial planner by the end of the month. Then complete the plan by the end of next month. Next, plan implementation can occur by summer with the first six-month review by December. A comprehensive financial plan is much easier to contemplate and complete in smaller doses.
Think it's too late. It is never too late. The optimum outcome may be more difficult to achieve, but you should never give up. Those that succeed in life are those that never quit. Even if you feel you've waited too long to plan and invest for retirement, think differently and you just may be able to come up with an alternative strategy. How many times did Thomas Edison fail to perfect the incandescent light bulb? If he had given up, you probably would not be reading this blog or doing many of the things we take for granted.
Don't have the knowledge. Knowledge is power, but knowing how to get the knowledge is even more powerful. It is interesting how many people want to manage their own money, but they really do not have the knowledge or discipline required. The sad fact is that they do it anyway, and wind up in a vicious cycle of making money and then losing it. Using a true professional may take some work to find, but will be well worth the extra effort.
There are ways around failure, but it all starts with knowing what you are up against. Good luck and happy planning.
Kelly Campbell, Certified Financial Planner and Accredited Investment Fiduciary, is founder of Campbell Wealth Management, a Registered Investment Advisor in Fairfax, Va. Campbell is also the author of Fire Your Broker, a controversial look at the broker industry written as an empathetic response to the trials and tribulations many investors have faced as the stock market cratered and their advisors abandoned their responsibilities to help them weather the storm.