Charting your course

I recently spent a few days on a sailboat on Lake Superior with a group of 5 friends. Lake Superior is the largest fresh water body of water in the world. When you are out on a sailboat, you hear the wind and water but otherwise it’s remarkably quiet. Once you leave the mainland, you no longer have cell coverage so it forces you to disconnect from the day to day chatter and enjoy your surroundings and friends.

Planning for retirement and investing is a lot like sailing. The markets are a bit unpredictable like the wind on Lake Superior.We were sailing in the Apostle Islands which is a national park with over 20 islands and almost no development. On day one, we set sail with hope of sailing from Bayfield, Wisconsin to Stockton Island. Typically, this route would take 5 to 7 hours, however that day, the wind was really blowing and we arrived in less than 4 hours. The next day, we wanted to sail from Stockton Island to Devil’s Island but found ourselves nowhere near our destination after 6 hours due to heavy winds of 15 to 20 mph. We were sailing directly into heavy wind and serious swells. We changed course and set anchor at Rocky Island, the location of the photo to the left.

Sailing requires you to chart your course, but may also require adjustments depending on wind and waves. This is very different than driving in a car or even a power boat, where you can typically go directly from point A to point B. Planning for retirement and investing is a lot like sailing. The markets are a bit unpredictable like the wind on Lake Superior. This year, the wind is at our back and the equity markets have moved significantly upward. Yet, like my sailing trip, there are years when we would be tacking back and forth and not moving quickly or directly toward our destination. Patience is required. Keeping the destination in sight is important. Charting a course is important but I‘ve come to recognize it won’t be a straight line to get there.

Have you charted a course for a key financial goal? How do you respond when the winds shift and your progress is slowed? Let us know!

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