A while back there was a popular book called Who Moved My Cheese, written by Spencer Johnson, that became very popular in business circles. It’s funny how a story about mice and cheese could be used as a training tool in some of the largest corporations. We could probably keep ourselves out of a lot of trouble by taking the lessons learned from childhood stories. As a matter of fact, a graduate level business class could be built around The Tortoise and the Hare.
Anyway, there was nothing groundbreaking about the plotline behind Who Moved My Cheese, but it was a quick read and easy to follow. One of the main themes of the story is that you must be prepared for change. Just because things were always one way, doesn’t mean they will always stay that way.
We don’t need to be paranoid like Chicken Little (there’s another one of those childhood stories that’s helpful as we mature), but we shouldn’t become complacent. In the story Who Moved My Cheese, there were a couple of mice eating from a very large piece of cheese. One of the mice kept busy foraging for food even though there was a big chunk of cheese to eat from, while the other mouse decided he no longer had to look for food because the big piece of cheese would last forever.
Well, you know what happened. One day the two mice returned to where the big chunk of cheese was, and it was gone. The mouse that counted on that cheese always being there was in a panic. “How will I eat? What will I do?” The other mouse, while disappointed to see the cheese was gone, had planned for this day. He was able to save plenty of excess cheese because he continued to look for new cheese in spite of having the big chunk.
You see, he didn’t allow himself to be dependent on the one big chunk of cheese. He stayed disciplined to his plan and most importantly, he was proactive in creating a plan that anticipated the chance that the cheese might not always be there. So, it’s not hard to see why this short story about mice and cheese became a training tool for the corporate business world.
The story also has a direct correlation to financial planning and in particular retirement planning. Yes, of course the cheese in the story is your money, but the point is about being prepared. To do that you need a plan that not only accounts for the good days, but also for the unexpected or unpleasant ones.
You might not anticipate everything that a solid plan should have and that’s why it’s so important to have a professional help you create one. Start by talking with a financial professional about your retirement goals. They can help create a plan that not only protects you but also your loved ones.
Most financial professionals offer a complimentary meeting, so take advantage of that to find someone you feel comfortable working with. The next time you read a childhood story, remember there’s a deeper message in there that you might just find helpful.