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Planning to Win

Planning to Win

January 18, 2023

Below is a short exert from the Chapter “Strategies to Profit During Market Cycles” from my book, “Physicians Guide to Wealth” released last year:

“Every football coach has a strategy with every possible scenario thoroughly thought through for each game. Most will have a core strategy and then adjust as the game develops. Included in their strategies for each game are the considerations of whether the game is at night or day, home or away, strong opponent or not, team’s health and especially the key players, good weather or bad, and so on. Then during the game, that strategy may be altered depending on if the team is behind or ahead and by what margin, key player injuries, the overall performance of the team, etc. The most successful coaches are proficient in quickly identifying when and what changes to make to capitalize on situations as they develop.

No better example of two successful coaches demonstrating their best skills was exhibited on November 30, 2013. Head coaches Nick Saban of the University of Alabama and Gus Malzhan of Auburn University (two arch-rivals) and their players had executed well all game up to the last seconds of the game. The game was tied 28-28, and Nick Saban’s Alabama team was set up to kick a game-winning 57-yard field goal by their backup kicker Adam Griffith. Malzahn made a calculated change in his defensive lineup, recognizing that the field goal attempt was unrealistic for Griffith, and Coach Malzahn put in his fastest players on the line and in the backfield instead of his normal heavy-set front-line special teams. The kick fell predictably short of the goalposts, and wide receiver, Chris Davis, now punt returner, caught the ball and, with his fleet-footed defensive team, easily outmaneuvered Alabama’s defenders and sprinted down the field for the game-winning touchdown. As the play started, Coach Saban, recognizing his error as Malzahn’s team lined up on the field, can be seen mouthing the words, “I knew it,” as Davis ran past him and the rest of the Alabama team.

Coach Malzahn and Nick Saban had pre-game strategies with options as the game developed. However, it was Malzahn that recognized an opportunity in the last seconds of the game to alter his strategy to go for the win instead of accepting the obviously failed field goal attempt and letting the game go into overtime. He lined up his best team for a touchdown-winning run back, and that is exactly what happened for a 34-28 victory.

The point of the story is in managing your investments, you need an overall game plan (investment strategy) and a decision-making process (See Chapter 3—Investment Policy), all the while looking for unique opportunities for outsized gains. However, if Malzahn had not been prepared and was being trounced by Alabama, a last-second touchdown, no matter how heroic, would not have changed the next day’s headlines, “Auburn loses to Alabama.” You need to manage your investments to achieve your goals, and when unique opportunities develop, you are ready to move”.

What Does This Mean to Me?

The beginning of the year is a great time to evaluate the past year and review your plan for the next year. For those of us with kids, a new year is typically filled with new experiences and responsibilities as they age another year. As they get older, there can be some significant changes, even from one year to the next. How did you do last year? Did you accomplish what you wanted last year, and if not, what changes will you make this year to ensure you will?  
Time is a precious non-recoverable commodity. What amazes me is how much of my yearly calendar is already booked at the start of the year when considering work, vacations, medical appointments (doctor and dentist), kids and grandkids events (school events, birthdays, graduation), family and friend events (birthdays, anniversaries, get-togethers) and summer activities. It is no wonder I can’t achieve new goals unless I proactively remove events already pre-scheduled in my calendar.  
In 2014, I decided to pursue my pilot’s license. Big goal. In order for me to realistically accomplish this goal, I had to literally schedule time each week when I would study and fly. This also means I had to “unschedule” other commitments. It took almost two years, but I passed my check ride on November 10, 2016. Life is too busy to assume time will magically appear. Scheduling time each week to pursue a goal is the first step to achieving it.
My wife has a saying, “If you don’t manage life, life will manage you.” The meaning is if you don’t have a target or a plan, you will miss it. Rarely does the target come to us? This beginning of a new year is always a good time to reflect on the past year and evaluate what changes you can make for the future. This is especially a good time to go through this self-evaluation to ensure you get off to a great start.