I just finished Eric Blehm’s The Only Thing Worth Dying For, which tells the story of an Army Special Forces unit that helped local militia overthrow the Taliban in Afghanistan. It’s really about heroism during the early days of the war on terror, so I certainly did not expect to read anything worth mentioning in a financial blog.
And then I came to chapter ten, where everything falls apart, and it begins with a quote from General Dwight D. Eisenhower: “In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” And that quote really struck me because it simultaneously acknowledges the futility of planning while stressing its importance.
Obviously, battle is an extreme—few of us will ever face those horrors. But there is a useful parallel between planning for battle and planning for anything, especially financial goals. So let’s break this quote down into two different pieces: plans are useless and planning is indispensable.
I’m sure Eisenhower saw enough battles to know that the chaos of war upends even the most well thought out plan. Battle is unpredictable and full of surprises—much like our financial lives. The moment you develop a concrete plan, an expensive emergency will bring you to your knees. But that doesn’t mean that you’re doomed to never achieve your financial goals—it just means you pivot.
Your original plan may be useless, but since you took the time to dig into your finances and come up with a plan, you now know what it takes to be successful. You understand the details of your financial life, so you know where to find flexibility and room for adjustment. That is why planning is indispensable.
Only through that process do you learn enough about your financial situation to be able to adapt to whatever is thrown at you. Your plan will be a straight line toward your goal, but that never actually happens. You start with one trajectory, and as your situation changes, you adapt and pivot to take on a new trajectory—all the while heading toward success.
Josh Norris is an Investment Advisory Representative of LeFleur Financial. Josh can be reached at josh@LeFleurFinancial.com.