I just returned from my annual recurrent training required to maintain my ability to fly. Flying is important to me because it allows me to travel long distances to visit with clients who for many reasons are not able to see me in my office. But more important than visiting my clients is being safe while doing so. Safety is my number one concern related to flying, and without hesitation I will cancel a trip if conditions are not within my prescribed limits.
Flight training not only sharpens technical skills, but perhaps more importantly it improves decision making. Each pilot and plane has different capabilities, so flight decisions are very personal. Powerful commercial airliners with two professional pilots on board routinely land at my airport in weather I would not, and should not fly in. I know a pro pilot who once cancelled a flight with 180 people on board because he had a family crisis and suddenly was not in a good state of mind for flying. Many passengers complained, but they should have thanked him.
Pilots are trained to do a personal evaluation before each flight by asking the following questions. Am I physically healthy? Is my mind alert, and free from undue distractions? Is the weather acceptable? Is the plane airworthy? Am I current in my training for this type of flight? Are there unusual external pressures pushing me to make this flight? Should I consider seeking advice about this flight from another pilot or instructor? Pilots who answer these questions honestly and are not afraid to cancel a flight when an answer is not a good one are far more likely to live to fly another day. And I might add, the passengers should never complain about the decision.
My flight training led me to wonder how these critical questions might also help investors when faced with major investment or financial decisions. They would sound something like this. Are my finances currently healthy enough to support this decision, even if it doesn’t turn out as planned? Am I in a good state of mind, having all the critical information I need to make this decision? Are the current conditions in the relevant financial markets acceptable, such that they are likely to lead to a good outcome for me? Have I carefully inspected the financial vehicles I am considering using and found them to be sound and suitable for my needs? Am I current in my financial knowledge so that I am able to make a good decision? Are there any outside pressures pushing me to make a decision in haste, or without considering other options? Should I consider calling another professional for advice before proceeding?
I think it would be very valuable if investors created a similar checklist, and followed it, before making any major investment or financial decision. Like a pilot, it may lead to them missing the occasional opportunity, but on the bright side they would be much more likely, financially, to live to enjoy many more days.
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, 375 E Riverside Dr, St. George, UT 84790
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