[I wrote this article in early 2020, before COVID-19. I’ve reflected on my personal predictions and was surprised that COVID-19 hasn’t changed the big picture predictions I have for my own life. Is this the case for you?]
I’m fascinated by what the future holds. The many different scenarios ahead of us, as a species, both excite and terrify me.
I’m sceptical regarding anyone’s ability to make big picture predictions about what the world will look like, especially over the medium- to long-run. There are lots of possible futures, and there’s no way of knowing which one of those possible futures will eventuate.
But it’s worth considering, especially in terms of how it might impact us as individuals.
Try predicting your future
Trying to predict our personal future is a valuable exercise.
Below are some of the “predictions” I recommend considering. To illustrate, I’ve included some of my own personal predictions. Yours will (or should!) differ, because it’s your life to live!
What is likely to happen?
For example: I think it’s likely that I’ll enjoy a long, reasonably healthy life, and my wife and I will have a long, successful relationship. Our children will also be relatively healthy and become contributing members of society. We’ll probably stay in our current home for several decades, own some nice cars, go on some nice holidays, and end up in a very reasonable financial situation.
There’s no guarantee this will happen, but if I had to bet, it’s what I’d put my money on.
What could happen, that’s slightly better than expectations?
We’ll own a bach. I’ll get my Porsche Cayman – or at least, I’ll get it much sooner. We’ll travel more. I’ll get to do more writing/content creation for an audience I really appreciate (and who appreciates me). We’ll provide more financial assistance to loved ones. We’ll retire earlier.
What could happen, that’s even better than expectations?
The most likely best-case scenario is if I manage to set up, or get involved in, a business that ends up growing significantly, and we build substantial wealth on the way. We’d probably stay in our current home, but our bach(es) will be nicer; our interior design standards will kick up a notch; we’ll travel more (probably first-class, and probably shouting people we want to travel with). We’ll help out family members and get a lot more involved in causes we care about.
What could happen, that’s worse than expected?
The major scenarios are relationship separation, poor relationships with our children, and/or a major health issue for me or someone close to me (in particular, my wife or children). Another is ending up in a significantly worse financial position than we expected and feeling financially precarious.
(A scary aside: there is a decent probability that one or more bad things will happen. Just because it’s not the most likely scenario doesn’t mean it’s impossible or even improbable. What is even scarier, however, is that I put the risk of something bad at a much bigger scale as even higher than one of these events. A specific example: I think the chance of me dying in a car accident, while possible, is lower than the risk of a major nuclear attack somewhere in the world in my lifetime, or a pandemic that is much worse than COVID-19 is likely to be. But I digress.)
Wild card futures
At the very least, this is an interesting exercise. I’ll dream up my own scenarios. I’ll let you do the same for yourself.
Notice the commonalities
Something you’ll notice when you think about these predictions is that there are often a lot of commonalities. This can inform the decisions you make now: to make better scenarios more likely, and worse scenarios less likely.
A specific example: my prediction about Fairhaven Wealth
The predictions I shared are very broad in nature. If I’m candid, my predictions are more specific than what I’ve shared.
As well as making predictions about your life in general terms, it’s worthwhile to make predictions in specific domains. One of those domains is your professional life.
My professional life is currently tied up with Fairhaven Wealth. Below is my prediction of the most likely scenario relating to my business.
Fairhaven Wealth, as you and I know it, will be different in three years compared to what it is now.
The clients who got in early, while fees were $879, or even $1,800 or $1,879, will have managed to get an excellent deal. My guess (and hope!) is that clients who engage my services at $3,000 will also look back and feel like they got a steal.
It’s conceivable that I won’t be taking on any new clients in three years time. If I am, I may be charging exorbitant amounts in order to prepare financial plans, for a very limited number of clients, and/or only providing advice during a limited number of months each year. The only clients I will still be working with on a regular basis will be my existing clients who are wanting reviews, to help ensure their plans stay relevant.
I’m not especially worried about making this public because:
- To be blunt, my services are one-off in nature. I’m not locking clients into an ongoing engagement. I’m also not committing to providing ongoing services.
- More importantly: for clients I work with, now and into the future, one of my main goals is to make myself redundant. I want to equip clients with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to manage their own financial affairs. If I’m no longer providing advice, that’s not likely to impact my current or future clients significantly.
This is in line with my original goal with setting up Fairhaven Wealth. I wanted to find a way to generate a reasonable income while having some flexibility with my time, location independence, and no constraints regarding other projects I can pursue. I also wanted to do this in a low-risk way, in the sense that the success (or otherwise) of this business isn’t based on one single client but is spread across many clients (which come from a very wide pool of potential clients).
(You can read this in terms of employment as well: in effect, I have a lot of employers rather than a single employer, which seems like a lower risk situation to me compared to having a single employer and/or a narrow range of potential employers.)
The reality is that I’m likely to get bored or sick of doing what I’m currently doing. I’m not at that point, and I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of having terrific conversations with people about what really matters to them. But I can imagine a time where the task of writing detailed, tailored reports becomes too much to bear compared to the many other productive things I want to do with my time. The business will evolve (for example, I’m transitioning a little by offering my new INSIGHT service), but I am likely to have another itch I want to scratch.
It’s likely that future itches will be focused on providing value to people in a more scalable way.
It’s terrifically rewarding helping out individuals and couples to build a financial/lifestyle plan that aligns with their values and priorities and gives them a greater sense of comfort and confidence than they had before. I treasure the kind words I’ve received from these clients. But it’s likely that I’ll want to find a way to leverage my time/knowledge/skills etc in a way that impacts more people.
From a purely self-interested perspective, it’s likely that a business model that impacts more people is likely to be more lucrative, and involve building a business asset in a way that I’m not building an asset with Fairhaven Wealth.
Maybe I’ll scale by expanding Fairhaven Wealth or a related business. Maybe it’ll be by focusing on technological ways of delivering advice (eg roboadvice that isn’t biased to recommend a specific product manufacturer’s products). Maybe it’ll involve providing services to others in the financial services industry (or some orthogonal industry) to better equip professionals to provide a great service to their clients. Maybe it’ll be the development of intellectual property. Maybe it’ll involve one-to-many education or training. Maybe it’ll be setting up a managed fund of my own, with a bent towards early-stage, unlisted, high-growth-potential companies.
Maybe it’ll be something that isn’t lucrative but is rewarding in other ways. Like writing erotic, supernatural, mystery novellas targeting niche audiences, such as specific medical/dental/legal sub-specialties.
From a selfish perspective, let this be my warning to you go get on the Fairhaven Wealth waiting list quickly – before the nature of the business changes in the future!
What are your personal predictions?
More importantly, I hope this prompts some thoughts of your own. What are your own predictions for your future? What could go better, and what could go worse? What are your predictions in specific domains, like your professional life? What decisions can you make to maximise the probability of good scenarios occurring and minimise the probability of worst-case scenarios?