by William “Marty” Martin
There is a beautiful metaphor for financial life planning.
It’s a trapeze.
Picture the trapeze artist letting go of one bar ready to embrace the coming bar. In that moment between letting go and holding onto the coming bar, there is a gap. Not a void. But a gap. This gap may be filled with feelings, thoughts, and movement.
Could it be that if you handle this gap with your heart, strength, and flexibility, you will position yourself to gracefully let go of the old bar and embrace the new bar with style? It will be argued here that the answer to this question is YES. It is worth explaining how each one of these qualities makes not only a successful trapeze artist, but also characterizes a successful transition—whether that transition was planned, such as a retirement, or unplanned, such as a divorce.
It requires Heart or courage to let go of what is known and to embrace what is coming your way. There are no guarantees. At The Planning Center, we believe that courage should be informed by up-to-date financial information and knowledge about yourself.
Beyond Heart, Strength is a core requirement. In the midst of the gap of transition, you have to be strong enough to hold yourself up long enough as you let go of one bar and embrace the coming bar.
Beyond Heart and Strength is Flexibility. Moving toward the future is not an exact science. You have a general sense of what you are moving toward, but do not have all of the details at a level of precision that would please an engineer. Imagine the trapeze artist having to adjust to the left or right because the coming bar is not perfectly aligned as expected.
Of course, you are not a trapeze artist nor are we at the Planning Center, but we realize that there are lessons to be learned from trapeze artists worth sharing. In closing, the next time you are experiencing a transition, remember that to move from the end of something through the neutral zone (or gap), to a new beginning, requires three characteristics:
Marty Martin, PsyD, is a Psychologist in the Chicago office of The Planning Center, a fee-only financial planning and wealth management firm.
Email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.