Open for Business

Here in the “Old Line” state, Maryland, restrictions on non-essential businesses and social gathering have been modified as of Friday.  While not a full-throated cry of “Open for Business”, it is extensive enough to give people a sense that some normalcy is returning.  It remains to be seen what broader impact the pandemic has on our society as the world grieves the continuing losses.

In our house “normalcy” means summer and fall lacrosse tournaments.   Our rising sophomore, Natalie could not be more pumped.  The easing of restrictions will allow for her club lacrosse team to practice again.  I have read many stories of how poorly some people handled the quarantine: too much snacking, too much television watching, not enough exercise etc.  Natalie has been the complete opposite.

(Natalie #22, Portrait by Phoebe)

She has always been very motivated, but quarantine sent her into hyper-drive.  She has been running 3 to 4 times a week, lifting weights, and doing core work.  Most importantly, she has been practicing lacrosse.  In April alone, she had 100,000 repetitions throwing the ball.  For an upcoming regional tournament, she provided this virtual tryout:

I would like to say I have been as productive, but I would be lying.  My exercise efforts during quarantine have been inconsistent. At the beginning of the lockdown, I was fully engaged.  As it continued, my motivation waned.  With easing of restrictions and a proverbial “Open for Business” sign being put out; I am re-establishing my regimen with a goal of being more consistent.

And so, I encourage everyone seeking change, use this milestone to refresh your goals.  The lockdown has had significant financial impact to many.  They will no doubt need to re-calibrate.  For those who have not been directly impacted, it still may be timely to review goals as we near mid-year.

I am a big believer in establishing goals, meeting them, and making a new list.  Goals give structure, meaning and motivation.  It is even good to have structure around your goals. The acronym SMART provides that structure.  SMART, of course, stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.  Expanded definitions of each component are easily found online.

First developed in project management disciplines, it is now widely applied both in business and personal life. My greatest success in achieving goals, personally and professionally has been when I applied this approach.

A complementary exercise is to divide your goals into 3 buckets, Needs, Wants, and Wishes.  This is the approach I use when developing comprehensive financial plans for clients. If any of the buckets have multiple goals, it is then important to rank each goal against the others.  This allows you to develop contingency plans when you have to make trade-offs.  And there are generally trade-offs, as there are few people who can fund all 3 buckets.

Another exercise that is useful in developing and achieving goals is discussing them with someone.  That and subsequent discussion helps to keep people accountable.  Without accountability, all goals become pipe dreams.  I would argue that your professional investment advisor, not your college buddy, is the best person for these discussions.  I would further argue that an investment advisor who is a fiduciary is your best choice.  The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) provides a search tool for free: (By the way, my zip code is 21204. 😊)

If you would like to learn how an independent, fee only advisor and a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional can help you, please contact me.  Feel free to share with others and make suggestions for future articles: