Whether you realize it or not, we all have a plan. Benjamin Franklin is credited with saying; “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” I believe you cannot get better at anything in life without serious preparation and planning. (Reference my exercise plan – or lack thereof.)
As a first officer at a major airline, I learn a tremendous amount by observing the different planning and leadership styles from the captains with whom I fly. One particular weekend, I remember flying with a captain who didn’t seem interested in thinking too far ahead or planning for major contingencies. Of course we ran the checklists, accomplished briefings and operated safely, but the minimum requirements were about the extent of our planning. I didn’t think much about it at the time, but looking back, I realized that everything on that trip seemed a little more difficult. We were constantly reacting to anything different that was thrown our way. I felt more stress and had less clarity about how we might work together to handle challenges during the flight.
Later in the three-day trip, that captain was rescheduled and another unlucky captain took his place. Because of the unexpected crew change, I immediately recognized the stark contrasts in planning and leadership styles. The second captain introduced himself, made the typical small talk and then within about 60 seconds, discussed the leg from Burbank to Oakland and what we would do during any contingency operations; e.g. bad weather, emergency, etc. As it turned out, we did have potential weather in Oakland. In that 60-second time frame, we talked about specific details, such as how many turns in holding we could do based on our fuel, our planned alternates, as well as alternates to the alternate. Wow! Immediately the fog lifted (in my mind – not in Oakland) and I could enjoy the next flight knowing exactly what we were going to do if weather became an issue.
This is exactly as it happens when you spend just a little time planning for your financial future. It doesn’t have to be laborious or time consuming. Sometimes, just taking a few minutes each week or month is all it takes (depending on your stage of life). Of course, taking more time and actually writing down your action plan for retirement is the optimal way to ensure you have the best retirement. But the key is to simply start planning now.
After personally experiencing the benefits of thorough planning in my flying career, as well as in my financial life, I have become even more passionate about making sure all of our Leading Edge Pilots “have a plan.” Whether you’re rapidly approaching the mandatory retirement age of 65 or you’ve just begun flying for an airline, I’m absolutely convinced financial planning will allow you to enjoy your career more.
As you begin the process of setting financial goals and planning for a great retirement after the airlines, consider the following questions:
● What does success “look” like to you? Write down your statement. Furthermore, do not compare your version of success to another’s. This will make you unhappy regardless of how much progress you make toward your own goals.
● What is your vision for your financial future? What do you like to do? What brings you joy? Spend your money on those things and be a miser on everything else. For example, is creating memories more important to you than buying new cars? If so, spend more money on vacations and traveling, and less on new cars. Your fellow pilot may have the opposite view and that’s why she always has the newest Porsche in her driveway. Either option is fine as long as it aligns with your value system. Just think about what’s most important to you and your family, not what’s important to your fellow pilots, neighbors, friends or relatives.
● Do you want to make an impact beyond yourself and your own retirement? Plan for that too. Evidence has shown that people who donate their time and money to benevolent causes are happier people!
If this exercise feels cheesy and weird, get over it. Embrace it! Know that every successful business and organization has gone through this very process. Businesses that do not, will not survive when the going gets tough … and you know it will (said Boeing about the 737 Max).
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us to start your plan. It’s what we do and we are passionate about it.
Call/text my cell anytime 865-328-4969. Email: Charlie@leadingedgeplanning.com.