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As our clients and friends know, I ride a motorcycle as a hobby, a Harley Davidson, of course. My riding buddy and I rode to Arizona to see the Grand Canyon this month. For extra fun and to get a better view, we skydived over the Grand Canyon. This was, as you can imagine, pretty exciting. We also visited Monument Valley UT, which is stunningly beautiful. If you are interested in the skydiving video, we’ve shared it below. As I reflected on my trip, I saw many parallel lessons that can be applied to life, but especially those entering into retirement. Here are the five lessons I learned.
Lesson 1: Some trepidation is normal, but you can do it.
Reflecting on the 4,300-mile, eight-day trip and its challenges, I saw numerous comparisons to the retirement transition journey that clients go through. Many of the lessons are quite similar. People asked me if I was nervous about parachuting. A little, of course. After all, for the first time, I was going up in an airplane that was going to land without me in it… On the other hand, my riding buddy is as fearless in the air as he is on a motorcycle.
This is the first time (and hopefully only time) that clients are going to retire. Anytime we do something new, there can be a sense of nervousness–which is quite normal.
Lesson 2: Don’t go it alone.
We jumped with a highly-credentialed and highly-experienced team. One of the young guys we jumped with had over 7,000 jumps! Needless to say, he had seen and done it all. I have ridden over 40,000 miles with my friend, including a coast to coast 2012 ride, and the entire Blue Ridge Parkway. We have ridden through everything from monsoons to hailstorms to Mohave desert heat in June. Also, I grew up riding motorcycles and we have both had some of the best training available.
We encourage all retirees to have an accountability partner who is experienced and highly credentialed. You don’t want to enter retirement alone with no one to hold your hand through the next bear market. If something happens to you, who would you want taking care of your spouse financially?
Lesson 3: Forecasts are not always correct.
Weather was unexpectedly bad and presented a major challenge. Every meteorologist from Fort Smith, Arkansas to Flagstaff, Arizona blew their forecasts. Monsoon rains prevailed all day long for two days across Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle. We were so wet we left clothes in Amarillo and had to dry out our money…..this made for two long hard days. Regularly I took us off I-40 on to the old Route 66 because it was raining so hard we couldn’t see the lines on the road. The roadmap even disintegrated.
As an Eagle Scout, “Be Prepared” is still definitely my motto, but I would add “Expect the Unexpected.” How many economists predicted our last financial crisis? Precious few, of course. There can be danger in consensus.
Lesson 4: Stick to the Plan and Trust Your Team.
There were discouraging times during the trip for both of us. For me, it was getting through the monsoon rains. For my friend, it was when we were sort of lost on the Navajo Reservation, which is over 17 million acres of red earth and mountains. We weren’t really lost…we just didn’t know where we were, or how to get where we wanted to go. A sudden severe thunderstorm with horizontal winds blew our bikes a couple of feet with each gust, and the grit and rain drenched us to the bone for hours. His GPS wasn’t working and the helpful highway signs they place 500 miles apart were nowhere to be found. There was no shelter or sign of civilization for miles. It was sort of like riding on Mars, and our bikes were red when we pulled into Gallup, NM.
The right team members help you get through difficult times: character and fortitude count, so be with people who will go the distance with you.
“The best way to measure your investing success is not by whether you’re beating the market, but whether you’ve put in place a financial plan and a behavioral discipline that are likely to get you where you want to go.” ~Benjamin Graham
Lesson 5: Have the Best Technology Working for You.
Having the best technology working for you is vital. We have late model bikes that are excellently maintained. My riding buddy is a top engineer, trained at Clemson, and can take our bikes apart and put them back together. I had one mechanical issue, and he had it figured out and fixed inside of fifteen minutes. Our bikes are large cruisers with anti-skid brakes, six-speed transmissions and lots of other great features. Did I mention they are Harley Davidsons? Redundant GPS and my old boy scout compass helped us get off the Navajo reservation. In my saddlebags, I have a portable pump that can re-inflate a flat tire inside of two minutes, along with a full emergency medical kit and many other handy items. Technology gives you confidence and helps you overcome challenges.
Intelligent Investing has integrated over 30 technologies into the firm, as we strive to be on the technological cutting edge for our clients. We leverage our technologies to improve our clients’ experience and to make us more efficient.
Like all our long trips, this one was really worth it and a great life experience. Preparation, a good plan and the confidence to stick to the plan were certainly key, just like in other areas of life–such as entering retirement.