What is a Planning Horizon? For anyone working to create or update their Will, it is helpful to pause for a moment and consider your Planning Horizon before you start making decisions.
People often get stuck in their decision making or become overwhelmed when they feel like their choices are permanent. When a decision is considered to be permanent, it creates an unnecessary pressure to somehow get it “right”. It is more helpful to approach our planning as something that is temporary in nature. In other words, we are not making decisions that are intended to last for all time. Instead, all we are doing is working to create the best plan we can based on what we know right now and what we can reasonably anticipate will happen in the future. And then, for as long as we are able to do so, we will come back to the plan again and again to update it, tweak it, or entirely rewrite it to take into account what the current version of our life looks like. As long as we are living, we are planning.
The timeline into the future that we can reasonably anticipate is our Planning Horizon. This will be different for everyone because it depends on each person’s circumstances and stage of life. Many people are able to put together a plan that is reasonably intended to take them two to five years into the future. For some, as a result of a diagnosis or other life event, the Planning Horizon is much shorter. For others, it is much longer. For example, someone who has children ages 18 and 22 might choose to work on a five-year planning timeline because in five years the needs of the children and where they are at in terms of their emotional development will likely be quite different from what they need right now.
It is helpful to pause for a moment and consider how far into the future you can reasonably anticipate at this time in your life and then work to create a plan with this particular timeline in mind. An awareness of your Planning Horizon empowers you to make decisions with greater confidence and purpose.