Goal vs Plan

Share This Post

“Wow” is about all I can say about a recent backpacking trip with a group of younger friends up into the core of The Enchantments! First there was the unlikely winning of the lottery required to acquire a permit for the six of us. Then there was the unlikely summer-like weather, followed by the most improbable of all—being able to accomplish such a feat (5,500 feet elevation gain with a 45 lb. backpack)!

Grinding it out on the trail provides hours of contemplation, which invariably inspires insights and analogies about life in general, as well as financial planning and investing. For instance, I thought of how a goal is never a plan, but sometimes a plan can be a goal. Setting a goal to overnight in the Enchantments is analogous to setting a goal to win a lottery. But having a plan that would facilitate such a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity put me in a position to be able to say, “You bet!” the moment my friend asked if I would like to go.

A long-standing element in my life plan is to stay in hiking shape year-round for as long as I can. Similarly, important elements of my financial plan include getting (then remaining) debt free, avoiding lifestyle creep, prudence, and prioritization. In my twenties I set a goal for moving to the northwest to climb, backpack, and hike. I also set a goal to become financially independent. Then I designed plans to achieve each of those goals, neither of which was certain, but both of which were feasible.

But sometimes the plan itself is the goal. Our plan was to pack as high and far as conditions allowed and enjoy every step of the experience. Had we established a specific goal (such as reaching Inspiration Lake), we would have almost ensured disappointment. Same as in life, where a good plan invariably ensures a better future.