In the 1997 film, Contact, based on Carl Sagan’s 1985 novel of the same name, there’s an early scene between the main character, Ellie, and her father . . .
Ellie is trying to find someone to talk with on the ham radio in their home.
She tries a frequency, says, “CQ, CQ” and mentions her call sign.
Then she tries another frequency.
With no luck.
Her father walks in as she complains that “she’s not getting anything.”
To which he replies, “Small moves, Ellie. Small moves.“
If you’re curious, watch the 1st 30 seconds of this YouTube clip of the scene from the movie.
I think the idea of “small moves” has a lot of application to financial planning.
It also applies to lots of other things.
Rather than attack a decision or problem with a sweeping wholesale change, it’s often better to take small, incremental steps in the right direction.
I believe this applies to going on a diet.
Or starting a new exercise program.
Think of New Year’s resolutions . . .
Many of us (myself included) are going to start eating healthier and lose that weight we’ve been unsuccessful in shedding through prior years’ resolutions.
But instead of taking small, measured actions, we often dive in with both feet. And bite off more than we can chew.
Rather than starting with a habit of daily walking with the goal of working up to jogging a mile at a time, we lace up our new running shoes (because the new shoes seem to be part of the ritual) and go for a 3 mile run.
We did it. We’re tired and can barely catch our breath, but we did it.
But tomorrow, we can barely walk.
Despite the new running shoes.
And the next day, we’re even more tired and sore.
So we take a few days to recover. And we eat some comfort foods. Because we earned it.
And you can probably guess how this story ends.
Only to be attempted again next January.
But again, this isn’t just about diet and exercise.
It can be about virtually anything.
Including your money. And your financial planning.
I’ve written before about the benefits of ongoing planning versus just creating a plan.
And this idea of “small moves” goes hand-in-hand with why ongoing planning is so important.
Let’s say you work with a financial advisor and create a plan. You even execute the plan.
But that’s based on what you know today.
Based on things that can and will change.
Without the benefit of ongoing planning, or regularly (at least once a year) reviewing and updating your plan to accommodate changes and new information, you could wind up – financially – somewhere very different than the direction your plan had you going.
And this could result in having to make some BIG adjustments.
Perhaps some painful adjustments.
The opposite of small moves.
Let me ask you this . . . would you rather have a BIG discussion with your significant other?
Or would you prefer a small conversation?
You know the BIG discussions I’m talking about.
Not sure about you, but I prefer the smaller, ongoing conversations as opposed to letting something – anything – build up into a BIG deal.
Same thing with your money.
Your financial planning.
If you’re interested, my buddy Carl Richards has written about this topic before as well.
Have you, like me, been guilty of making BIG MOVES in attempt to create change?
Have you had more success with smaller, incremental moves? I know I have.
For now, just remember, “small moves.”