Life can change in the blink of an eye.

Two blue lines.

“You’re hired.”

One doctor’s appointment.

“I do.”

And sometimes life changes more slowly, more methodically. A countdown to retirement. The payoff of years of hard work to start a business. A hard-earned sabbatical after 7 years of service.

Whether the change is fast or slow, it should influence your financial plan.

But all too often, we take a “set it and forget it” approach to our financials. We create a budget and stick to it for years. We continue to invest in exactly the same things, because why fix what isn’t “broken”?

But that strategy isn’t effective.

Think of your financial plan like a game of golf.

You don’t use your driver on the green, just because that’s the club you started the hole with. Sure, you will be able to hit the ball. You may even be able to get the ball in the hole. But wouldn’t it be far more effective to use your putter? As the wind conditions and distance to the hole changes, you use different clubs to maximize each shot you take. And your caddy should be by your side, advising you of yardages and conditions, making suggestions on which club would work best before you take your shot.

Because using the wrong club is a lot more work, and a lot less effective.

I had a client come to me recently who had previously worked with a financial advisor - the same advisor his father had worked with before him.  At his father’s insistence, he got a financial plan when he was just 19 years old. At the time, that put him lightyears ahead of most people his age. He felt secure, and maybe a bit smug. He was teeing off with the perfect driver.

Fast forward fifteen years.

He is now 34 years old, married, with a 4-year-old daughter. He doesn’t work as an intern at a marketing agency anymore – now he runs his own. He doesn’t rent a basement bachelor apartment anymore – now he owns a home with a basement rental. He is a little bit greyer and a lot wiser. Now, he’s on the fairway. Everything about his life has changed.

His financial plan, on the other hand, has hardly changed at all.

Some tweaks were made over the years to contribution amounts, and risk profiles, and he opened an RESP when his daughter was born – but otherwise? His plan looks remarkably similar to the one he first received as a fresh-faced teenager in 2006. He was using a 3 wood, 60 yards from the green.

For my client, a lot of what he has accomplished so far has been a challenging uphill battle.

I admire his tenacity and work ethic.

But it didn’t have to be that way.

Before he seriously considered opening his own agency, there should have been a financial safety net established, considerations made for critical illness insurance, adjustments made to retirement contributions, changes in investment strategy to reflect his new risk profile.

Before he got married, his plan should have been updated to reflect his new household income and change in retirement lifestyle goals.

Had he been re-evaluating his plan every year, and using a consistent measuring stick for success, he could have achieved his goals much faster and with far less blood, sweat, and tears.

He should have switched clubs long ago.

As his new caddy, I advised him to switch to a wedge.

With his new club in hand, he is on track to hit the green in fewer strokes. He will be able to retire sooner, purchase another rental property, help his daughter with her post-secondary education, and take a well-deserved two-month cruise around the world with his wife.

It isn’t enough to simply have a financial plan.

Your financial plan should change regularly as your circumstances and goals change. But you don’t have to know what those changes should be. Working with an advisor means that you’ll get exactly the guidance you need – before you take your shot.

Book a call to learn how with the right clubs used at the right times, you can achieve a hole in one instead of a bogie.