I’m an avid reader of all things Seth Godin, including his daily blog posts. This recent post stuck a cord and made me think of recent market activity. *Be sure to visit the link to the post and consider subscribing!)
The title of the post was “String too Short to be Saved”, telling the story of a hermit who saved everything – including a box of string clippings he labeled “too short to be saved.”
As Seth explains, many of us are guilty of doing the same in our daily lives, accumulating the small slights and the daily worries. I venture to guess many of us have this habit when it comes to our financial lives as well.
Think of your investing journey. Are you saving any “short strings?” – such as worry over mistakes we made in our past, regret of not having bought a certain stock, the concern that you aren’t on track, comparison to a family member’s wealth, fear created by the daily business news, outsized attention to your portfolio’s movements in a given week, month, or even year.
My guess would be we all have a box of these investing short strings on a shelf in our minds. We get lost in the trivia and focus on thoughts and ideas that in reality are too useless to even be saved. But we save them nonetheless.
How can we begin to clear away this clutter? How can we ignore these passing thoughts that don’t serve us and instead elevate the discussion and the matters that deserve our attention? Here are three suggestions that I believe will help
1.) Give yourself context – We all suffer from a recency bias, giving more weight to events that have occurred in closer proximity to today. However, when it comes to your financial life, a longer-term perspective is essential as it is a journey that can last as long as 7+ decades for many of us! Examine market trends, asset class returns, portfolio theory over at least a 10 year period. You’ll see that the daily “short strings” are really not all that relevant (Suggested source: recent publication by Blackrock)
2.) Know where you’re going and how to get there – A lot of short strings can be discarded if you have a clearer picture of where you are trying to get to – and a plan to help reach that destination. How does it serve you to worry about a monthly market return if you don’t even know what return you need to earn to reach your goals? Some work clarifying your plans and designing a path to reach it is a much better use of your time and energy
3.) Talk it out – Many of us hide our boxes of “string too short to be saved” from others. We are embarrassed to share it with others, we feel vulnerable giving it daylight, and as a result, the collection grows and continues to distract us from doing the work that matters. The surest way to work thru the clutter is to give it a voice. Reach out to your financial advisor and other trusted professionals in your life. Talk thru the concerns and questions you have. You may find that these strings can be discarded to make room for what really matters
In Seth’s closing he asks, “What happens when we treasure the memories that serve as fuel, and ignore the rest?” Consider that question – and then get to work discarding your financial strings too short to be saved
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