I’ve spent the last hour cleaning the leaves out of my gutters and have only the side facing my neighbor’s house remaining. Normally, I have my wife or son hold my 24-foot ladder as I climb, because that side is the highest point of our house. However, neither of them are at home. In my impatience, I convince myself that as long as I go slowly and am careful, I will be OK.
As I extend the ladder to its greatest height, I look down on my neighbor’s blacktop driveway and see that it has started to rain. Nonetheless, with my 55-gallon garbage bag in hand, I start up the ladder and begin removing leaves. Just as the driveway is looking slick and the bag of leaves is getting heavy, I remember how terrified I am of heights. Thoughts of falling and of a lifetime of paralysis enter my mind, and I know I have reached a catch-22; either a fall will kill me or my wife will.
Anxious now to finish, I reach over to my right, with my noticeably heavier bag of leaves, and I start to feel the ladder moving. It is at this moment that I realize I have gone too far. So I let the bag of leaves drop and quickly scurry down to the ground. My legs are shaking and I promise myself to never climb a ladder again. I breathe a prayer of thanks for being saved from myself.
Do you ever feel like that with your retirement planning? Like you are precariously perched on a 24-foot ladder, reaching too far? Did you take more risk than you were comfortable with during the last market downturn? Are you going it alone, without someone at the bottom of the ladder supporting you? During the month of October, did you feel the ladder start moving, making you feel afraid and doubtful of your actions?
My stubbornness in not hiring a “leaf guy” could have meant serious injury and forever changed my life. It’s the same for your retirement plans. Going it alone, taking more risk than necessary and allowing fear and greed to influence your decisions may result in portfolio suicide, forever changing your financial goals and dreams. Therefore, do yourself and your loved ones a favor; find a professional that you trust to hold your financial ladder steady. Together, develop a well-thought-out financial plan, one that will weather stock market ups and downs.
When you think about it, our motivation for reaching is good. We want to have enough saved to retire, to take care of the ones we love and to enjoy the fruits of our work. So what gets in the way? Sometimes it is impatience. We want to hit that magic number quickly; we want to be done. The danger is we start to overreach, thinking that this time will be different and that stock market volatility can be managed. We have forgotten how scared we were last time, how we had vowed not to go up on that ladder again, much less by ourselves.
Don’t climb the ladder alone. Rather, make the move that can help you enjoy safe and restful nights.
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