It was difficult for me to learn how to land an airplane. I kept trying to over-control the process, but landing requires patience. Landing, is what the plane does, when it is no longer able to fly. The magical moment in time when this occurs is not under the control of the pilot. It changes with each landing based on aircraft weight, balance, atmospheric pressure, and many other factors. A pilot’s job is to put the aircraft in a position to land, and then patiently wait for it to happen. Trying to over-control the landing usually just makes things worse.
Last month my daughter arrived via commercial flight into Saint George and reported that it was the worst landing of her life and questioned the skills of the professional pilot. I asked if anyone was hurt and she said that all seemed fine. I told her that pilots, knowing the many variables involved in landing, define a good landing as one that everyone can walk away from, and a great landing is one where the plane can be used again. Based on that measurement, I suggested she should have complimented the pilot after the flight.
All pilots know the most successful landings begin miles from the airport with a well-planned stable approach. Retirement investment planning is not unlike landing an airplane. It requires planning long before the event, and then, in many instances, being patient with the little bumps and gusts of wind that occur.Trying to over-control investing, or making sudden changes, usually just makes things worse.
Though perfection in landing and investing may be the goal, it is not required. Remember, any retirement plan that gets you to your destination intact, is a good one, and if there is a little something left over for your heirs, then it was a great one.
My instructor taught me about smooth landings, and safe landings. Safe landings, according to him, are within our control, and our only goal. A smooth landing is nothing more than a safe landing, combined with a little luck, leaving your passengers thinking you are the greatest pilot on earth.
Retirees should focus more on safe landings, meaning a retirement portfolio that gets them to the end of life’s runway intact. If there are bumps and gusts of wind along the way, don’t stress it so much. Likewise, when things run smoothly, resist the temptation to pat yourself on the back prematurely. Stay focused on the outcome.
I have attended the funerals of many clients. In every single case I have returned to the office the next day to find their retirement account still sitting there. It has had a profound effect on me to see repeatedly that the biggest fear of retirees, running out of money, with good planning will rarely happen. Like a landing, their investment lives were rarely perfect, with so many things out of anyone’s control, but the planning and stabilized approach led to a good financial ending to their lives, and that is what really matters.
Hi, I'm Dan. I'm a CFP® Professional.
Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network®.
Member www.finra.org / www.sipc.org , a Registered Investment Advisor. Wyson Financial, 1173 S. 250 W. Suite 505, St. George, UT 84770.
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