We are living in uncertain times. Both globally and locally, our political and financial landscapes are shifting, leaving many people anxious about the returns on their investments. This type of anxiety can affect our emotions. And, making decisions based on how we feel is never a good recipe for financial planning, long term.
In the face of fear, many people are tempted to convert their investments into cash. But once you do that, how do you know when to re-enter the market? What if you shouldn’t have got out of it in the first place? A move like that brings a whole set of new questions, making us even more anxious than we were before.
So it is that we find ourselves fuelled by fear and living our worst – instead of our best – lives.
Something that can put our thinking back on track here is an illustration by Carl Richards, who produces a weekly sketch for the New York Times. It consists of two overlapping circles. The first circle represents things that matter, the second, things you can control. His advice is simple: the only place to focus your energy is where the circles intersect. In other words, what is it that matters to you that you also have control over? Carl’s view is that uncertainty equals reality. And he’s right. Unpredictability is the new norm. So, the best thing we can do is make peace with the inevitable risk of being alive.
In essence, we just cannot control everything. Something as simple as the Serenity Prayer can be your mental calm in a storm. Your soul is searching for the serenity to accept the things you just cannot change, the courage to change the things you can and the wisdom to be able to tell those things apart (my article on the Serenity Prayer can be found on our Retire Successfully website: www.retiresuccessfully.co.za/insights-serenity-prayer
Here are some Top Tips for Uncertain Times:
- Don’t fight the fact that we live in an uncertain world. It’s a reality that we all need to accept.
- When you feel overwhelmed, try to cut out some of the negative noise. Choose carefully what news you follow and every now and then, take a break from it altogether.
- If your stress levels are affecting your health, get help. Stress is dangerous and too much of it compromises your body.
- Take some time out to reflect. Could your panic be a trigger from the past? A childhood memory sitting beneath the surface of your stress? Dig deeper into the belief you’re holding. Is it true? And is it serving you?
- Make a list of what matters to you that you can control. Keep your mental attention there.
- Your financial plan was designed for the long-term. Have a long-term approach to it and stick to your plan.
- Spend within the plan you’ve agreed on with your planner to make sure your money lasts.
- Make daily decisions to make sure you are living a meaningful life.
It’s not just our financial plans that are long-term commitments. Life is a long-term business too. So, take the time you need for developing the mental fortitude to outfox your financial fears.