Investing To Be Happy
Recently, a friend of mine posted something on his social media page that really got to me. His post read the following: “Life is so good, I really don't get why so much energy goes into complaining on Facebook. A bit, I get. We're all human. But I had to unfollow a couple of people this week because I could no longer take their incessant negativity. We live in an amazing time. Are people suffering? Yes. Can we improve? Of course. But we are more empowered than ever to take control of our lives, use technology to boost productivity and learn, quite literally, about ANYTHING. Life is good. I feel so lucky to have been born in the latter part of the 20th Century in the US. Lucky me. Lucky us.”
Ironically, or not so ironically, his post came a few hours after I made a post complaining about something political. Of course, when I saw his post, its was like being slapped back into reality. I immediately removed my post (which was receiving a lot of attention from people standing ready to debate). Why did I remove it? Because Jeff is 100% right. My life is great too! My family is secure, we have time to spend together, my career is growing quickly, I am healthy, we have more opportunities in front of us than we could possibly take part of. So why did I complain?
I complained for the same reason I think most of us do: I didn't get something I wanted. Politically, financially, or whatever it was, something didn't go my way. Big deal, now move on. Complaining is also a distraction from doing what we need to do; focus on our own lives. Perhaps I need to focus on the things that did, and do, go my way. Like Jeff said, this is an amazing time. We need to embrace it. By the way; he emphatically denies it was my post that prompted his post.
So how does this translate to investing? Directly, in my opinion. Commonly, I speak to people who tell me what their money should be earning. Like it is their right to have big returns. I love a free market, but they must also understand that is their obligation to accept the associated risks with seeking a big return. This is the reason I spend so much time talking with people about their goals and how to achieve them. Forget about “beating the street” and focus more on achieving the results you need to get you to your goal. Trying to beat market returns neglects your real purpose; to fund important goals. Instead, focus on what you have and what is in your sights. Learn to be satisfied with the goals you establish and work toward them. Anything extra is welcome, but expecting extra return sets you up for disappointment.
We all know it is important to focus on our own lives and stop worrying about the chatter. Now, I am certainly not advocating you to stop paying attention to the changes in our lives, politics, and economy, but I am advocating that you focus on what is right, before you make a list of what is wrong. We should all learn to steps toward our goals by checking off things on your list. Each success gets us closer to our goals and will help us focus more on what we have instead of what we don’t. Sounds obvious, right?
The reality is simple; our lives are surrounded with good things right now. Business and economic opportunities abound. The markets are at, or near, all time highs. The dollar is strong. Jobs are abundant again. Will it last? I have no idea. But, I am going to take advantage of these opportunities while I can. If the markets continue higher, I am invested to reap gains. If the markets fall, I’ll invest more money and wait for the rebound. In the meantime, I will focus on things that add value to my life, not frustration. There are a lot of things that are out of my control, so I will not worry about those things. I will also not focus about what is wrong when so many things are right.
I stopped giving my attention to newsletters, radio shows, television shows, and one sided programs that offer no redemption. If the program’s purpose is just to make me emotional, then why give it my time? Yes, I want discussion points, but I also want to know what I can do about it. If it's only to be upset, then it won’t have me following it. Focus on opportunity, not disruptive yakking.