I recently watched the 2013 Richard Curtis film “About Time” starring Bill Nighy and Rachel McAdams. It is the story of how the males in one family have the ability to travel in time once they reach their 21st birthday. As with many Richard Curtis films, it is somewhat sentimental, but contains some good points. Many of us have at times, wished we had the ability to alter the past to the benefit of the present or future. Certainly hindsight would be of considerable value to investors, which is the only time in which timing the market is actually possible. However, I wonder if such ability is really that helpful.
In the film, the lead character Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) uses his newfound time travelling abilities to correct or “improve” his first and subsequent impressions. Whilst I recognise that this is tempting and done for dramatic effect, initially it conveys the idea that Tim cannot handle disappointment or failure, unless things go his way in a perfect sequence, then he cannot manage the imperfection. I imagine that this may have resonance for a Director or Writer, but for the rest of us, even with the advantages of technology, there is only so much editing and “perfecting” that can be achieved.
Financial planning is not about designing a perfect life, full of wonderful experiences and things. Certainly it can (and hopefully does) contain those, but life happens and we make of it what we can. Motivational guru’s talk about living deliberately or intentionally and having life plans, goals and surrounding yourself with people that help you achieve… but the reality is that character and life experiences are largely formed through the journey of life, all of its ups and downs, not simply the high points. Surely what makes us deeper people is our response to them (the highs and lows). At a seminar recently I was reassured to hear a very notable lawyer remind us all that everyone makes mistakes. The question is presumably whether they were or are deliberate and how we respond.
The film concludes neatly and I won’t spoil it for you, but Tim learns some life secrets that are worth reflecting on, particularly in relation to any financial planning for life. I ask clients about their expectations from life and even how long they expect it to be, on many occasions we work to bring forwards some of their “lifetime ambitions” as however well planned things are, none of us know when we will depart this mortal realm and as we all know… time flies..#tempusfugit. Here’s the trailer.