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Financial Planning Specialists

Plan to fail

It doesn’t make sense, but we need to have a plan for when things go wrong. 

People love to say that Benjamin Franklin once said that if you fail to plan, then you plan to fail. It’s not a bad quote, but as the world experiences some of the most significant disruptions in recent history, we know it’s only part of the picture.

This means: we need to plan to fail. Or rather, we need to consider the eventuality of things not going according to plan.

Grounded aeroplanes and harboured cruise liners, stopped conventions and elective medical procedures have left industry behemoths searching for bailouts and financial support. Once financially and emotionally secure, families are struggling to pay increasing bills, some facing retrenchment and unemployment. On top of all of this, we have stressed and strained relationships that no one could have planned for. 

Because we always hope our plans will work out. It’s not nice to think about our plans not working out. The more we learn about our behavioural psychology, the more we learn about planning and managing situations that send our emotions spiralling. 

Sunél Veldtman, founder and CEO of Foundation Family Wealth, recently wrote this:

“Although the four-decade career has been endangered for a while, it is now becoming extinct. The idea of choosing a career in your teens, studying towards that career, and then making progress towards the top of that career ladder, must be shelved.

We should anticipate that these events become the norm, not the exception. We should accept that retrenchments and continuous learning will become part of most careers. We should change the way we plan. There is too little ‘what if’ planning. Too many plans still span four decades of uninterrupted change. If we don’t change the way we plan and think about career trajectories, we are already planning to fail. We should encourage bigger savings pools for the ‘what ifs’ right from the start, discourage straight-line thinking in the midlife and reassure fresh starts after mid-life. We should learn how to contract our spending quickly, and carefully consider commitments with long-term implications like private school education or expensive debt. Change management, continuous learning and resilience are skills that will become as key to our financial wellbeing as it is for our physical and mental health.”

Underlying all of these thoughts, we need to help each other develop a deeper sense of self-worth. Before we lose our business, we need to ask: “Who would I be if I didn’t run this company?”. Before we lose our income, we need to ask: “Who would I be if I didn’t enjoy the bank balance that I currently have?”. 

If our identity is too closely linked to one aspect of our life, we will lose everything if we lose that one thing.

We need to explore what a balanced life truly looks like in our personal context so that we can say:

“I’m not my job, and I’m not my income. I’m not my partner, my kids or my business. I’m not my house, my car or my overseas holidays. I’m all of these things and so much more.”

We’re here to help you manage your financial health, but we know that it’s not separate from your physical, emotional, relational, spiritual and mental health. If you need to have a deeper conversation and plan for when things go pear-shaped, then let’s get in touch soon.