Equifinality and Multifinality

By Mark Bertrang, The Creator of the Financialoscopy® on Thursday, September 22nd 2022


Welcome back to the Financialoscopy Lab where today we will be discussing the concepts of equifinality and multifinality. This last weekend, my wife and I were up at our cabin in northern Wisconsin and on Sunday we decided that instead of eating in at the cabin that we’d go out and have lunch or early dinner somewhere else. We had not been to Hayward, WI for almost a year, which is about an hours-drive away. There’s typically only one way to get there. From our community, we take highway 27 up to the west and north and within an hours-drive we are there. There’s one way to get there…that’s the mentality that a lot of people have.

Over the weekend, I also finished a book titled Think Again by Adam Grant. He spoke in the book about the different possibilities, of equifinality and multifinality. I think these come into play in our decision-making processes and probably yours as well for those things that you wish to have in your life. This is what he says in his book, “There are always multiple paths to the same end.” That would be the definition for equifinality. Image where you want to end up; it could be a goal or retirement, but this is where you want to be. We have found over the many years that we have worked with clients that there are often many different ways of reaching your goal. Our goal then is to work as economically as possible to get you where you wish to go.

Here’s the problem with that: you might end up exactly where you wanted to end up, but is that limiting you from other possibilities that might be out there? Adam Grant goes on to say, “The same starting point can also have many different ends”. That would be the definition for multifinality. Imagine where you are starting at today. Depending up the roads that we take, there are many different possibilities. There are many different outcomes that might be available to you that you may have never considered before in your life.

What does this have to do with a map of Wisconsin that I have on my board and getting from point A to the point B where I wished to end up in Hayward, WI? Most people, if they have never been to northern Wisconsin, may just pick up their telephone, plug-in where they are and where they wish to go, and a GPS, without showing all the options available to them, might get them from point A to point B. However, in our glove compartment, we have an old Wisconsin map.  Instead of just doing highway 27, the map opened up possibilities because we had a little extra time, and we wanted to experience other possible outcomes along the way; do we take highway 27, do we take W, do we take county road M, do we take county road R or F or a combination of them? We didn’t take highway 27. Instead, we took different paths, actually multi-paths, and we were able to experience some sights and sounds along the way that we would have never had the opportunity had we not looked at the entire available map and the roads that could get us to where we wanted to go.

Here's the deal: what are the possibilities in your life? Are you looking at the end result only and the equifinality? Or are you open to the multiple possibilities of a multifinality? Things keep on changing in life; there are road blocks, there are detours, and there are bridges that have been washed out. A G.P.S. might eventually get you to where you wish to go, but what was the trip like along the way? As poet Robert Frost once said, “Take the road less traveled”. That is what we are all about.


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