Question: How often does a pilot taxi the aircraft down the runway without completing the pre-flight checklist?
In fact, the unwavering discipline to follow the pre-flight checklist, as well as others, is a direct result of what’s at stake for the pilot. Aviation errors often lead to loss of life and the loss of valuable resources.
The aviation industry is not alone in their strict adherence to checklists and flowcharts. These tools have been widely adopted and demonstrated to be successful in avoiding errors across many professional disciplines. Information technology, health care, and engineering are just a few of the industries where professionals depend on the efficiency and accuracy gained through the use of flowcharts and checklists.
You can also leverage these tools in your financial planning to help increase the chances you will achieve your retirement goals.
To take control of your finances, you must understand that you face a future of financial issues more daunting and complex than just balancing the budget, staying away from too much debt, and making regular contributions to your retirement accounts. Albeit important steps, faithful adherence to these will not solely lead you to financial success, and you only get one chance to build and manage your ideal retirement.
Here’s the problem: despite the expertise we gain, we are human and vulnerable to basic errors due to:
- Failure to recognize the full breadth of the financial issue at hand or our own unique situation during the time we must act.
- Cognitive stress, fatigue, and emotions that may impair our judgement in the moment.
- Not remembering an important step in a process we’ve done before, especially those repeated often.
As you plan for your retirement, the financial decisions you’ll face will require you to consider multiple variables which will then lead to more than one sequence of steps to achieve the desired result. Since you only have one chance to get this right, you’ll want to equip yourself with tools that increase your chances for making the right decisions on how you will proceed.
Checklists and flowcharts are two of the easiest ways to tackle and manage many of the complex issues facing anyone approaching retirement or currently retired. Even though the decisions you will face may be complex, these tools don’t have to be in order to have a significant impact on reducing or eliminating errors over a broad spectrum of retirement planning topics.
If you are not using checklists and flowcharts in your financial planning, you may find yourself:
- Prone to missed opportunities or careless errors due to incomplete information or not understanding the issues at hand. Over time this can result in feelings of incompetence and lower confidence in your ability to make sound financial decisions.
- Less confident you will be able to achieve your goals. Feelings of incompetence can lower the energy and enthusiasm you will need to carry out the steps of your financial plan to a successful end. This is a self-defeating pattern.
- Feeling lost. Having direction and sound plans to follow can increase the likelihood that you will continue to do what’s required to reach your goals.
- Spending too much time researching the financial issues of your ever-changing situation. Depending on where you are on your financial journey, there may be consecutive months where financial planning may require your attention. An efficient approach to managing these tasks and decisions can free up time for you to focus on other important areas your life.
Clearly, it would be an exaggeration to equate retirement planning checklists and flowcharts with those used for the aviation industry. We’re not talking about lives on the line or hundreds of millions of dollars in resources at stake. But leaving an open opportunity for errors and missteps that may lead you into financial hardship or ruin should not be taken lightly.
Consider how you might proceed when faced with these common retirement planning questions where several variables must be considered which then lead to multiple steps and outcomes:
- What issues should I consider leading up to my retirement?
- Should I contribute to my Roth IRA or my traditional IRA?
- What issues should I consider if my spouse has passed away?
- Will I have to change healthcare coverage as I transition into retirement?
- Can I delay distributions from the traditional IRA that I inherited?
- How might the President’s tax plan affect me?
These are just a handful of the retirement questions that you may have as a current or future retiree. If you are not working with a financial professional, the information you need to successfully manage these issues yourself is readily available in books or online. But it may seem daunting when you’re faced with having to put together an action plan for your unique situation, especially for the first time.
Imagine having tools that allow you to handle these financial issues with increased accuracy and efficiency, without having to do 100% of the legwork yourself.
- This will help reduce distractions so you can focus on a specific issue which can help lower or alleviate mental stress.
- Over time you can decrease and possibly eliminate careless financial planning errors. This can boost confidence in your ability to achieve your retirement goals.
- Along those same lines, a history of success can help increase your energy and enthusiasm to tackle the next big planning issue you’ll face, moving you forward on your financial journey.
- You will be able to see a more complete roadmap of a retirement issue, revealing the details and variables which lead you to the appropriate next steps. This can help you to understand what’s going on in your unique situation and have a broader view of the topic at hand.
As an example, take a look at a flowchart from my financial planning library which covers the topic of Roth conversions. I hope you will be able to see how using this tool during your retirement planning would help you to make the right decision(s) when faced with this common issue.
Download a free copy here: “Should I Consider Doing A Roth Conversion?”
I know you want to feel competent and in control of your financial destiny without being overwhelmed or intimidated by the planning process itself. By regularly providing you with a diverse mix of checklists, flowcharts, and follow-up to your questions, my goal will be to help you increase your financial knowledge and competence so you can take control of your finances and achieve your retirement goals.
Working with me at Plan For You Goals is easy:
- Schedule a phone call
- Get the right financial plan for your situation
- Keep your plan on track with ongoing support from me
Checklists and flowcharts should be tools at your disposal leading up to and during your retirement. If you are not ready to work with a Financial Planner, I encourage you to take a look at Fritz Gilbert’s Blog, The Retirement Manifesto. He has some valuable retirement checklists and guidance available for free.