I recently began flight training for my private pilot license. It’s great fun and something I have wanted to do since I was a kid. It’s exciting to learn something completely new and get answers to questions I have had for years. I enjoy being in the air of course, but I also love the regiment, preparation and precision that is required of flying and being a good pilot. It suits my personality.
Flying has so many correlations to my work as a financial planner. There are many ‘lazy’ analogies like planning, navigating, timelines, arriving at your destination, etc. The similarities are abundant and rather striking. The one I find most interesting, however, is somewhat more obscure. It is the Pre-Takeoff Briefing. The Pre-Takeoff Briefing is the checklist we review prior to requesting clearance to take off. The list contains the last few steps in preparing the plane before flight. One item in the process is to discuss aloud with my copilot or instructor, what I will do if I lose engine during the takeoff roll? What about an engine loss at 50ft? An engine failure with runway remaining? Without runway at 500 ft? What other airport is closest if I can’t make this runaway? Where am I going? Who is doing what? We discuss and verbally agree in advance of the emergency what action we are going to take. There are no assumptions, and no guessing. Everything is pre-determined. And by discussing these things aloud, we are more likely to simply respond should the crisis occur. We are also more likely to calmly and clearly consider all the possible solutions. And we do so, before they occur, not while we are dealing with the crisis.
There are parts of one’s financial plan which should be decided in advance as well, in order to be most prepared. Long term care planning comes first to mind. Couples moving into their retirement years are strongly encouraged to have the conversations and put contingencies in place regarding their long-term care plan. Questions such as Where might we go? Whom should we ask for help? Do we want to stay in our home? And of course, how will we cover the cost of care? Are we going to self-insure or consider long term care insurance? If we self-insure which assets are we going to commit? Much like the flight briefing, it is critical to have these conversations in advance of the need. Far too often, families find themselves in the middle of the crisis needing to make decisions quickly and emotionally. Doing so potentially eliminates some options and causes others to be skipped completely. The emotions and concern that immediately comes with caring for a loved one in need will take over and the clarity of mind needed to make important financial and healthcare decisions is often lost. They are sometimes uncomfortable thoughts and conversations to have. But couples having considered and discussed these potential issues in their future, will be far better prepared and more likely to navigate the crisis successfully.
The popular term, “we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it” has no place in aviation, nor in your financial planning. Whether flying or planning for your retirement, having those difficult conversations and discussing contingencies in advance will make for a smoother journey.
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