The Herald Bulletin

January 10, 2014

'Big Joe' Clark: Is the juice worth the squeeze?


The Herald Bulletin

---- — As the new year begins, even after being temporarily delayed by a weather vortex and countless airline delays, individuals and companies alike will begin to implement new strategies and resolutions.

The success of these new endeavors comes directly from getting started, or what I like to call momentum, followed by the resolve to be consistent and persistent throughout the year. That formula for success is obvious but we need to add another consideration: Will the end result be worth the cost or effort required to meet the intended objective?

There have been countless studies on goal setting. Commonly accepted is that you are better to have a goal than not, better to have written the goal down than to simply have it in your mind and better that you should repeat the goal over in your mind as to visualize the final success.

All are accurate from my standpoint, but even though this methodology for success is well known, most people and businesses fail to execute on their strategies throughout the year. Why?

If you know how to succeed and yet repeatedly fail — what goes wrong? My grandfather taught me that the smallest deed outweighs the grandest intention. I translate that into momentum.

Just get started and do something! Here's the catch: the momentum can be toward something positive or toward something detrimental, so be intentional about your efforts. We often fail to even start the workout routine, the diet or the right investment strategy.

There is another reason for failure that seems apparent to me in many financial decisions but it is true in all aspects of life. Goals, resolutions and strategies are discussed and agreed to but many times without two very critical ingredients: why does the final result matter to those that must sacrifice, invest or change in order to achieve the desired outcome and, secondly, will that cost be justified by the result?

The first missing ingredient is a common mistake and separates those who "arrive" and those who seem to be on a furious loop with little result. The second ingredient is often overlooked. Is the juice worth the squeeze? What will this resolution or strategy really cost and are we prepared to pay the price?

Corporate America is full of conference calls declaring objectives for the upcoming quarter and year. Often the focus is targeted towards the current moment rather than driving the business for long-term shareholder value. Many families do the same with their own financial future. We fail to understand what long-term retirement success truly requires and what the end result looks like.

Without thinking about it and planning for it, you could wind up on an endless loop of looking at quarterly or annual investment results and ignoring the long-term objective. Without the focus of the longer-term results we underestimate the required amount of effort or "squeeze" that will be required for success. You must know your "why" but you also need to know the cost.

Joseph “Big Joe” Clark, whose column is published Saturdays, is a certified financial planner. He can be reached at bigjoe@yourlifeafterwork.com or 640-1524.