// What You Should Do vs What You Will Do //

Author: Taylor Haney

Photo: Pablo Garcia Saldana via Unsplash


Have you ever received advice that’s practical, but not applicable–either by choice, habit or desire? I’ve received a lot of advice in my life. Some good. Some bad. And, some that felt like it wasn’t for me, but for the person giving it. Sometimes, we seek another’s counsel for affirmation. But, mostly, we are seeking advice or counsel on matters that we lack knowledge or discernment.  

I am an investment advisor and financial planner by trade. But, honestly, I find myself giving a lot of life advice. Perhaps I’m not qualified to do that, but let me give you some reference. I tend to tailor my advice to the recipient’s personality. Yes, I am paid to give financial advice everyday, but I often find the best advice is seldom taken. Why? Because we are programmed to do what we are going to do. I took the Kolbe A Index a few years ago and was enlightened to the idea of a person’s instinctive mode of operation.

 It’s essential to understand the difference between what you should do and what you will do.

 I get paid to give financial advice, but it’s not always taken. When I present a financial plan to a client, I share with them what I believe to be the best investment and saving strategies for them. Both morally and legally (as a fiduciary) I have to do what is in my clients’ best interest. “Hey, here’s what I think you should do.”

 But then the conversation changes. Given all the research, data, assumptions, and goals, let’s figure out what you will do.

 “I think you should probably be saving $X per month to hit Retirement Goal A.”

“Well, we really like our monthly membership at the country club, so we’re probably just going to save $Y per month.”

“Great, let’s adjust the expectations and pursue Retirement Goal B instead.”

Does this mean the initial advice is any less good? I don’t believe so. The best advice is that which is taken (assuming the advice is good in the first place!). Why? Because it calls you to action. Action that you can believe in and feel confident in taking.

 In the broad expanse of the investment universe, we’ve yet to find The Best Choice or The Best Plan.

 Potential clients often ask me to write out a financial plan that tells them exactly what they should do. I did this early in my career. I quickly researched, created, and gave them The Answer. But, not once was it applied as originally presented.  I do things differently now. Instead of rushing the planning process to get to The Answer, I spend a lot of time with new prospects and clients. The more I can learn about their fears, disposition, habits, needs, and desires, the better. The best plan is the one you’ll actually do. It takes a meaningful conversation (usually multiple conversations) to figure that out.

 When a friend, family member, or co-worker seeks out your advice next time, seek to discover their core–that instinctive mode of operation. I know I’m being pragmatic here, but follow me. Life is and will always be about what you should do and what you will do. They aren’t always the same thing. You’ll get more out of your relationships if you get to know people on a deeper level, including yourself.  When someone seeks your advice, this is an honorable notion to be considered for. Remember, we give advice to help another, not to hear our own words. And when we seek counsel, transparency and vulnerability yields the best advice.