Thursday, February 6, 2014

2014 January/February IFAPAC

The Best Time To Plant A Tree

In ancient Rome, Janus was the god of beginnings. He was often depicted with two faces--one looking back on the past, the other looking forward to the future. Some languages name the month of January after him because the beginning of the year was a time for reflection as well as planning. Thousands of years later, many cultures throughout the world carry on a tradition of making resolutions for the new year.

There is something incredibly hopeful about a fresh start. You have certainly realized this when you bought a new computer with a clean hard drive. For a time it works perfectly but as the days and weeks pass by and more programs get installed the computer begins to stall, and things it used to do quickly and efficiently become sluggish. Sometimes it doesn't work at all. Even getting it started can become a chore as the hard drive becomes cluttered with miscellaneous chaos and electronic debris. There are times when the only recourse is to reformat the computer and start over.

Human beings, including insurance and financial advisors, can likewise become cluttered with fears, doubts and so many details. Sometimes other things slow us down and hold us back, causing unproductive thoughts and actions that can make it hard for us to get started.

Setting goals is a worthy endeavor. Our personal goals can bring out the best in us. However, one of the things that derail our efforts in making and keeping resolutions is procrastination. We sometimes delay starting, waiting for the right moment to begin--the first day of the new year, the beginning of summer, when the rules change, when the climate agrees with us, or when we retire. We can sometimes waste years of our lives waiting for things to be right. But that is a false premise. With every new day, a new dawn comes--not only for the earth but also for us. And with a new day comes a new start--a chance to begin again.

Sometimes the thing that holds us back is fear. We might be afraid that we won't succeed, that we will succeed, that we might be embarrassed, that success might change us, or that it might change the people we love. And so we wait. Or give up.

And another thing we need to remember when it comes to setting goals is this: We almost certainly will fail--at least in the short term. But rather than be discouraged, we can be empowered because this understanding removes the pressure of being perfect right now. It acknowledges from the beginning that at one time or another, we may fall short. Knowing this up front takes away much of the surprise and discouragement of failure. When we approach our goals this way, failure doesn't have to limit us. Remember, even if we fail to reach our ultimate, desired destination right away, we will have made progress along the road that will lead to it. And that matters, a lot. Even though we might fall short of our finish line, just continuing the journey will make us greater than we were before.

An old proverb says, "The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second-best time is now."

There is something wonderful about the word now. There is something empowering about the fact that if we choose to decide now, we can move forward at this very moment. Now is the best time to start becoming the person we eventually want to be.

If you haven't joined NAIFA, join now. If you haven't recruited a new member of NAIFA, do it now. If you haven't contributed to your professional organization's political action committee, contribute now. If you haven't volunteered to serve in your local association, consider sharing your skill and talents now.

(Thanks to Dieter F. Uchtdorf for the thoughts that were used in this message)
Richard Ek, LUTCF, CSA
IFAPAC Chairman

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