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Compass vs. Map: The Art of Flexibility and Knowing Where You Are Going!

Did you miss the audio version of this blog? Don't worry. Here it is!

Nyle Bayer is the Chief Marketing Officer of Helios Quantitative Research. They also have a software startup (Helios Integrated Planning), which helps financial advisors coordinate estate plans for their clients.


He’s also a good friend and a major supporter of my podcast and blog. From the moment I first shared that I planned to start them, he was there.


Right away, he began providing information, technical advice and became the sounding board that allowed me to organize my thoughts.


When you’re thinking about the idea of a compass vs. map, Nyle’s early life could be the illustration.


Let’s delve into what I’m talking about.


Early Days


Life throws us some tough curveballs.


I don’t think anyone will refute that statement.


However, when Nyle was a child he said his life seemed to be falling into place. His sister became a gymnast who was recruited to the University of Alabama. He was growing up and eventually started playing baseball and soccer in high school.


It was during his freshman year when things began to change.


His mother was diagnosed with cancer, which is one of the hardest hurdles for any young person. Compounding the stress during this time, he started having migraines. Then another big change happened: the headaches were so severe he was taken out of baseball.


He’d thought he had his life mapped out. Then these series of changes started changing the landscape of his life.


It was around this time that he realized that things might not go as smoothly as he had envisioned.


Everything Changes


Despite life’s unplanned changes life definitely keeps moving along.


When he was 19, he and his girlfriend (now his wife) discovered that they were expecting their first child.


He had adjusted, remapped and was moving forward as a musical artist.


Then at the age of 25, in the midst of raising a child during the great recession, he chose to pivot in another direction. He was on the verge of embarking on a nine-month tour, which would have meant leaving his family. He decided not to go.


The next year he had his second child and made a sharp right turn into finance. He was able to overcome all the hardships, adversity, and growing pains.


That’s when things really started to light up.


Flexibility Quotient


Are you amazed when you look back at the twists and turns your journey has taken? Did you ever think of compass vs. map--and the need for flexibility?


Nyle said that he thought his life was mapped out, that included the ideas that society dictates for us, such as your car, clothes, and housing styles.


He allows that the compass part was that we really have no idea where we are going. Most people can’t predict where they will be five years from today. Nyle believes that learning the difference between mapping your future vs. compass has made all the difference.


He is able to ride the current, with the understanding that life has its own ebbs and flows. He points out that there are things we can automate and other things that we can't.


Nyle believes it’s how you combine the two makes all the difference in the world!


His history reminded me of something my pastor told me a long time ago. He said, “Whatever you have as ideal in your mind, just please erase that.”


This really surprised me because I thought he would have certain expectations. However, he believed that when life happens, you sometimes have to change and adapt on the fly.


Nyle equated this very neatly with investing language: “The short term volatility should not dictate the long term outcome.”


Compass vs. Map


Have you ever been backcountry hiking?


You would soon find out that a compass and a map are equal importance.


Nyle explained that a map is useless if you don’t know where you’re going. The compass will indicate the direction you are going, but it can’t tell you if a mountain is ahead of you.

It makes sense to me.


If I start walking on the map to where I'm supposed to be, I need to know which direction I'm going. You can have everything mapped out but if you don't have a compass as a guide, you're not going to get there.


How do art, science, and imagination figure into the goal-setting process?


He states that he wants to map all the unavoidable things (exercise, paying taxes, estate planning, automating savings), that he knows will happen in 2020. He can then store that information away to be accessed later.


He literally maps out events on a big wall calendar.


One example is that he and his wife love camping. However, last year using their camper was lost in the shuffle of other priorities. This year they want things to be different, so they’ve already mapped out camping dates on the 2020 calendar!


I liked his idea of creating something that was visual and blocking the dates out ahead of time. I believe it made those times more real.


That means he can expend his energy on the compass side of things.


How have you adapted to changes in your own life? Does Nyle's compass vs. map concept resonate with you? Comment below!

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