A couple of years after her divorce, one of our friends decided that she really wanted to be in a relationship. She didn’t want a repeat of her marriage, though. So she did what none of us would do if faced with the same situation – she contacted everyone she knew and told them that she would like to be set up. She also told people the only requirement was that the guy be nice. After literally a couple hundred dates, some of which were unmitigated disasters, she met the guy to whom she has now been married for over fifteen years.
Psychologist James Hollis wrote in his book, What Matters Most, “The meaning of our life will be found precisely in our capacity to achieve as much of it as is possible beyond those bounds fear would set for us”. Yet most of us create reasons why we can’t do the things that will make a difference in this one precious life we all have. The number of reasons why our friend could not go on dozens of dates would really be excuses that would permit her to live alone. While there is nothing wrong with choosing that type of life, the choice is what matters.
Our fear of running out of money causes us to not do important things. One of our clients overcame this fear through the act of giving. By creating and executing a philanthropic plan, they found that they not only were no longer afraid of not having enough, their acts of charity made them appreciate what they already had even more and helped them to realize that they already had enough. I don’t believe that they would have overcome their fear had they spent similar money on acquisitions as opposed to charity because acquisitions often fuel our fears of not having enough while charity reinforces our belief that not only do we have enough, but we are enough.
One of our clients has had a fear of being invested since 2008. The story that he continues to tell himself is that Wall Street is crooked and the world is a mess, therefore there is too much uncertainty for owners of stocks to make any money. Even if his premises are right, his conclusions are invariably wrong. More important, unless he has enough money to not have to accept risk, being too conservative will result in him having a lower standard of living over his lifetime.
Any investor is going to lose money – no portfolios go straight up. Every single day people are voting on stock values by buying or selling shares. But as economies grow over time, broad stock prices rise because company earnings and dividends increase. Worldwide growth has certainly slowed, but it has not stopped. Managing your anxiety is often more important than managing your portfolio.
Take a moment to write down how you are acting on your current financial fears. What are you avoiding? While you may not be alone in your fears, you may be hampering living the life you deserve.