When Plans Don’t Go As Planned

September 7, 2022

I had a conversation with a buddy of mine who has been a commercial pilot for quite some time. One of the things we talked about was flight plans. I asked him how often he actually takes the time to prepares a flight plan. Of course the answer was every single time.

This was no surprise to me because I know his personality and his attention to detail. However, it’s something that is just ingrained in him as a pilot. He has been trained since he first got his pilot’s license of the importance of a flight plan.

I asked him how often flights go exactly as planned. His answer…never.

He flew jets for the navy and was in the air on September 11th, 2001 when our country was attacked. He told me about escorting commercial airliners to the airports to ensure they were not headed for another target. There was a real possibility that he might have to shoot down a commercial airliner on that horrible day.

Clearly his flight plans changed on that day.

Navigating the ebbs and flows of retirement is very similar. It’s easy to observe your starting point, set a goal, and make a straight line path directly towards that goal. In the real world, that path never winds up being a straight line. Course corrections must be made along the way and the path to reach the intended goal often looks like a squiggly line.

If my friend flies from the east coast to the west coast and he is off by just 1 degree, he’s going to wind up hundreds of miles off course. This is why he is constantly making adjustments based on what is going on at that time. His destination doesn’t change, but how he gets there may change.

Recently another friend told me a story about his uncle. His uncle is a single guy and has never married. He retired within the last 3 years after working for the same company for 35 years. He had mapped out the plan for his retirement. It was nothing extravagant, but it was something he had worked his whole life for. He was entitled to a nice pension and had accumulated about 500k of retirement assets. He seemed to be set up for a great retirement.

Then his situation changed. He had a stroke, a bad one.

All of a sudden, those perfect plans were no good. He’s now in a facility that can provide round the clock care. His doctors have told him that he is never getting out of that hospital bed. He is devastated and his future is completely different than he imagined.

Clearly this is an extreme example of things changing. It’s my hope and prayer that none of you face this type of challenge. None of us are immune to a health crisis, so it does happen.

I’ve had several clients this year face a cancer diagnosis. When it does, your plans will change.

One of most important and rewarding parts of my job is being there for my clients as they enter different phases of life. These phases mean we often encounter things we didn’t plan for. Without a doubt, these are the times when our clients appreciate what we do the most. We make adjustments, and we move forward.

A plan is very important in retirement. I have talked about that for years. However, in helping people navigate this “next phase” of life called retirement, I realize that I am not really a map builder. I am more of a guide to help you navigate things as the map changes for you.

The only constant is change and our plans will adapt as you go through the different phases of your retirement.

As always, I am honored to help you navigate this thing called retirement!