The purpose of financial planning is to plan best, for a future we do not know.
Psychologist Dan Gilbert and his research colleagues once performed a study where they talked to over 19,000 adults aged 18 to 68. They measured this group’s personalities, preferences and values to see how much these attributes would change over the course of a decade.
Subjects young, old and in-between all felt they had changed substantially over the previous decade, but few expected themselves to change over the next decade.
People consistently underestimate how much they will change in the future.
Gilbert termed this the “end of history illusion” where we believe our current selves have it all figured out to the point that this is who we’ll be for the rest of our lives.
It took me a while, but I’ve finally come around to this idea of understanding that my preferences are sure to change over time and my future self will likely be different in many ways from my current self in terms of tastes, values, and priorities.
Looking back 10 years from now, I’ll laugh at how stupid I was. How I took big life decisions knowing very little. But make those decisions I must because that is life. It keeps moving forward.
Time waits for no man.
This is what financial planning is about. Planning best we can, for a future-self we do not know. Yet plan we must.