On the 25th May 1961 US President John F Kennedy (JFK) made the following statement at a joint session of Congress “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon”. A mere 8 years and two months later on 21 July 1969 American astronaut Niel Armstrong walked on the Moon.
In the eight years NASA (The US’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration) went about planning to put a man on the moon, they suffered many setbacks including the horrific death of three pioneering astronauts in a devastating fire in one of the prototypes. Many hours were sacrificed to the project, many scenarios anticipated and a great number of resources were allocated to make the goal a reality. The rewards were worth the sacrifice as the US could claim the title of the first nation to put a man on the moon.
Putting a man on the moon was an ambitious goal that required focus, dedication and of course a solid plan! Designing your investment goals also requires a similar dedication and a solid plan.
Whether planning to go to the moon or to retire comfortably four key elements should always be present in a solid plan.
1. The Mission Statement
It all starts with a mission statement – JFK told the world that he had a mission and a goal. He put a timeline to his statement and a date to work towards. Without a mission statement and timeline you have no goal, no vision and hence no excuse if you fail.
Any investment plan starts with a future objective and date in mind - that is the mission. Whether you are investing for your child’s education, a holiday or your retirement. Without a mission statement you don’t have direction and can’t be disappointed if you fall short!
The old adage “If you don’t know where you are going any road will take you there” rings true. So many people are distraught when they fall short at retirement but when asked about their plan, sadly they admit they never had one.
2. The Blueprint
The US needed to build a spacecraft capable of taking men safely to the moon and back, something that was never done before! A solid blueprint was needed to survive space. A blueprint unique to NASA!
Any investment requires a unique blueprint of what is needed to take you safely to your investment destination and beyond. Things like the amount of money you need to invest (monthly or annually), inflationary adjustments that must be made, the correct asset allocation, the most appropriate investment product, taxes applicable, liquidity, fees and trustworthy partners.
We all need an investment blueprint capable of achieving our investment goals and able to withstand the elements along the way. Without it our investment mission is a no-go!
3. The Anticipated Setbacks
Three NASA astronauts lost their lives, the Soviets were rapidly advancing and threatening the US’s plan of being the first nation to put a man on the moon and the Lunar Module had not been properly tested to land on the moon. NASA anticipated challenges but never let these setbacks derail the greater mission.
On your investment journey, no matter how well prepared you may think you are, there will always be setbacks. Plan for them!
Markets will crash and tumble, global financial crises will hit and pandemics will come and go. It is how you deal with these setbacks that determine whether you reach your investment destination or not.
If you anticipate setbacks you are more prepared and have a greater chance of succeeding.
4. The Commitment
When those brave astronauts were strapped into the spacecraft there was no turning back. They were committed after years of planning, training and testing and prepared for the journey into the unknown. No matter what happened they stuck to the plan and were victorious.
Once your investment plan is in place commit to it. Any deviation to the plan could push you way off course.
Try avoid changing direction once your investments are in motion because simply put, you have not properly planned to deviate. If you change direction you need a new plan, bottom line! A knee jerk reaction that takes you off course could be fatal and puts your entire investment mission at risk.
Thankfully you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to invest, all you need is a well-defined mission statement and a date. Today building an investment blueprint is easy with the help of smart technology and modern investment techniques.
Take that one giant leap for yourself and become a victorious investor!
Gareth van Deventer CFP®
OUTvest: Head of Advice