Yesterday I wrote about making time to plan lest ye run into horrible difficulties down the road, and it got me thinking about how we don’t really plan our lives terribly well. I mean, as a young person I squandered my cash relentlessly, buying useless crap and roughly an ocean of beer (that you really only rent) and ending up with very little to show for it. I knew a few things – eventually to get married, have a child or two, maybe a house? I dunno – there was no real planning involved at all. Now in my mid forties there is a *lot* more planning required so I have run up OpenProject as a virtual machine at home and started really thinking about using it to organise life.
I’m not talking about at a tactical, low level. I mean the big stuff. I know when the kids will finish school and I know when my mortgages are supposed to be paid out. I also know when I can access my super so I have a range of dates I can use to flesh out the timeline. What then goes in the middle? There’s a lot of living to be done, holidays to be planned – if they go in the project, then they get to the calendar and then they happen. Have you ever noticed that time can slip by and all of a sudden you haven’t had a holiday in two years? That’s a thing right there, and something to try and avoid.
So my overall “Life” project is starting to fill out and its surprising how your thinking adapts to having boundaries around what you want to achieve. Now, I’m a systems thinker so I’m always looking to have multiple gains along the way to a goal, so if the goal isn’t reached then it’s not a total loss. I’m trying to build this into the project of life as I go along. Not that easy it turns out, but at any rate, still very useful as an exercise in thinking about what can / might happen. The activities of the children is all booked in there too – from starting school to finishing, hopefully some sort of tertiary education or trade and then moving out, giving the wife and I freedom from kids. There are lots of grey areas in the project, and they can be developed as time goes on. Funnily enough as I was typing this I remembered I need to go to the doctor’s so I booked an appointment. A great example of how focused one becomes on what you want to achieve and things that are important.
I have a few regrets with this project – I didn’t really save at all as a young person, and I spent money without investing or even thinking about it. I certainly didn’t spare time to consider my future. The one thing I did do was put a lot of cash into superannuation early and that will hold me in good stead as time goes on and I can access those savings in 20 odd years time. If you’re young and reading this – get onto your finances early. Compound interest is a beautiful thing and a “buy and hold” investment plan seems to have worked for guys like Warren Buffet. At any rate, at least *think* about what you want your future life to be like and work backwards from there. Good luck!