02 May 2014 Opportunity is Knocking. Can You Hear It?
Do you find yourself running from one activity to the next, feeling further behind the faster you run? Are events more in control of your life than you are? Do you feel that you wouldn’t know a good opportunity if it hit you squarely in the face?
If you answered yes to any of these questions you are in a huge majority. It’s the way we are wired. Our natural tendency is to re-act rather than to pro-act. We are not natural planners. Planning takes intentionality, determination, and time. We are too busy doing the things we want to do right now to plan or to set goals for the near or far future. As a sad consequence, we miss countless opportunities, one after another.
Opportunity is defined by Dictionary.com as “a situation or condition favorable for the attainment of a goal.” But, without a goal, we have nothing against which to measure the new set of circumstances presented. Webster defines opportunity as a good chance for advancement or progress. But again, without goal or purpose, how do we measure the degree of ‘good-ness’ of the new chance just presented? Opportunity without direction is mere noise distracting us from what we want to be doing in the moment.
So how do we enable ourselves to more regularly learn of opportunities and take advantage of them? First we need to better understand why we do as we do, what makes us the way we are. We humans are of two distinctly different minds. There’s the emotional, which feels pain and pleasure and is instinctive. Then there’s the rational, which analyzes and plans. The best analogy I’ve seen to describe the tension between the two is one from Jonathan Haidt, a psychologist at the University of Virginia featured by Chip and Dan Heath in their wonderful book Switch.
Haidt says that “our emotional side is an Elephant and our rational side is its Rider. Perched atop the Elephant, the Rider holds the reins and seems to be the leader. But the Rider’s control is precarious because the Rider is so small relative to the Elephant. Anytime the six-ton Elephant and the Rider disagree about which direction to go, the Rider is going to lose. He’s completely overmatched.”
The analogy elegantly describes why we so often do the things that we most want to do, rather than the things we know we ought to do. Add to the analogy the idea of the Path. The more cleared, flattened, groomed, and lit the Path is, the more likely is the creature side of our brain to follow it. Whether we allow our creature to continue plodding along the same worn paths of bad habits or whether we build better ones toward our ideals is completely up to us, our Rider. When we align all three in the same direction, our potential increases exponentially, as does the regularly of our discovering goal-aligned opportunities along the way.
We have a wonderful process that can encourage your Elephant to dream and set lofty goals. At the same time we can comfort your Riders’ logical mind with robust statistical confidence. And the best part is the Path. It’s the center of our process; a path defined by the statistical range of dollars required at every year of your life to meet or exceed everything you want to do along the way.
We provide a path like the one above for every one of our planning clients to motivate and encourage their Elephants while rationally communicating confidence and progress to their Riders. The Path reveals a range of dollars presented in today’s terms required to meet every goal they value for each year of their lives. The left border represents a 75% probability of meeting or exceeding their goals, while the right indicates a 90% probability. We border the high side at 90% because it means that of the 1,000 virtual lifetimes lived by the statistical model through all kinds of market conditions, 900 of them EXCEEDED the wealth required for our client to meet his or her goals.
We continually check the path to make sure it leads where you want to go by reviewing your plan’s goals and priorities often. We also monthly test the plans statistically to ensure adequate confidence. Take a look at the section in the figure titled “Odds the Plan Will Need to Change.” Notice that in the next five years, there’s a 21.1% chance of “Over Funding.” That suggests the chances of an OPPORTUNITY to do something sooner or bigger than your current plan suggests.
And the beauty is, we will let you know when it happens! It will not be a guess or a feeling, it will be a real opportunity, one that represents favorable conditions for the attainment of a real, measurable goal that you and we have discussed and planned for.
If its time to review your plan or to create one for the very first time, please go online to make an appointment or give us a call at 919-821-5225.
In the words of the affable Dr. Seuss:
You have brains in your head and feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own and you know what you know
And you are the one who’ll decide where to go.