I spend most of my time helping dentists grow their wealth as they plan for their futures. But when I have some down time, I enjoy composing music. You might be surprised at the similarities between writing music and building a financial plan. In both disciplines there are many different elements that have to be put in the right order, with the right structure, at the right level of intensity, at the right time.
In the process of learning to compose music, I had to learn some powerful habits. And I’ve observed great investors master some of the same qualities on their path to prosperity. Here’s five:
#1 They’re Methodical
The hard work of “practice” separates the musician from the amateur. But to be a really good musician, you can’t just practice for practice’s sake. You have to practice deliberately. The difference between unfocused practice and deliberate practice is the difference between mediocrity and mastery.
All of my clients save some money. But the real money-saving whizzes set up automatic savings programs at 20%+ of their income. They don’t have to remember transfers between banks or deposits every month. By saving a meaningful percentage of their income and growing their net worth, they control their lifestyle expenses and never jeopardize their financial future.
Advice: Master the ability to put at least 20% of your gross income away each month on automatic withdrawal!
#2 They Don’t Short-term Plan
When I sit down to write, or arrange a piece of music, I’m not trying to force anything. Over time I refine the components of the music until everything comes together in a way that’s organic, natural, and long-lasting.
It’s important when planning for your future to spend enough time with your advisor(s) to adjust your personal goals and the direction you want to take your life. As your finances evolve, you gain confidence that you’re heading in the right direction as you continue to refine and adjust.
Advice: It takes time for your personal strategy to evolve based on your unique circumstances, personality, and goals. It’s highly individual—don’t hurry the process.
#3 They Live By the Numbers
Music progresses a lot like math, and once you master the theory or numeric patterns happening with a piece, you can perform it instinctively.
Smart investors understand the fundamental theories and rules that govern how portfolios should be built. They stay on top of their lifestyle patterns and how that affects their net worth. To them, net worth is the ultimate indicator of their financial progress and they make changes and adjustments to keep it growing.
Advice: To make the best decisions about your wealth, instead of guessing or relying on your emotions, use numbers based on accurate quarterly financial statements.
#4 They Get the Right Help
When learning to play an instrument a good teacher and a good rehearsal process are essential. My teacher helped me rehearse the right way and held me accountable to a comprehensive, repeatable process which enhanced my skills.
The right advisor holds clients accountable and helps them follow a process. And successful dentists follow guidelines that improve both the big and small financial stuff. In the end, that can add up to millions of dollars of net worth over time.
Advice: If your advisor isn’t delivering a proactive, financial treatment plan that gives you confidence in your future, find someone who can.
#5 They Stretch
I still remember performing at my first piano recital. My teacher had given me what I thought was a really difficult piece to play. Determined to not embarrass myself, I practiced hard. Honestly, I don’t remember if I played that piece very well. But I do remember being totally relieved; how proud my parents were; and I remember stopping at Dairy Queen for a banana split on the way home.
Maybe I learned this from my piano teacher, but I advise my clients to set goals that seem a little difficult to attain. My teacher always pushed me to greater heights. The dentists who really build wealth constantly push themselves incrementally forward.
Advice: Try to increase your performance each year by just a little. Increase your personal net worth, improve your savings rate, and increase your profitability. Stretch!
The opportunities for dentists in today’s economy are incredible and the possibility for job satisfaction and significant wealth are amazing. A financial plan can either accelerate or decelerate your journey. As a first step, don’t overcomplicate things. Good financial planning is about developing good habits around fundamentals that build wealth consistently over time. Becoming a financial virtuoso is really about doing common things uncommonly well.