Did you go to the gym this morning? Did you notice anything? It’s already starting to empty out, isn’t it?
As we move through the second week of 2017, many deeply resolved, well-laid plans have already gone the way of the dodo bird. Statistics tell us that in just a few more weeks, most all will be a thing of the past.
It is difficult to change habits. We get comfortable with our routine and are willing to defend, consciously or subconsciously, against any outside influence looking to cause us discomfort. That’s how they became habits in the first place. Hence the extremely high abandonment rate on making major shifts in our biggest areas of need.
After diet and fitness, making better financial decisions is pretty high up on the resolution list year in and year out. These are all honorable pursuits and we should do more than just make a nominal attempt to make changes that truly might increase our happiness and move us closer to our ideal selves.
The solution? Take that perfect new year’s resolution based plan and make it, well, less perfect.
I was listening to a podcast given by self-help author, noted speaker and startup guru, Tim Ferriss. He shared a thought on why we fail so frequently when it comes to things like new savings, diet or workout plans. I’m slightly paraphrasing, but he says that “we abandon the good enough system we might actually follow in search of the perfect system we’re almost certain to quit.”
That’s not a new idea per se, but it struck me at this time of year as a great reminder. Start small with your plans for change. Build in assumptions for how you’ll respond and get back on track when you inevitably fail. Eating 1% less each week for the whole year will seem like nothing compared to that 30-day fasting plan that never sees day six. Tell others about your goals, challenge them to make them with you. All of these and more can be done to increase accountability and the likelihood you’ll achieve success.
I agree with the Jim Collins’ quote that good is the enemy of great. In fact, I wrote a whole blog about it a few years ago. But I also believe Voltaire was equally correct in saying, ‘Le mieux est l’ennemi du bien,” or translated, “The perfect is the enemy of the good.”
In investing, the idea of being good enough as opposed to perfect rings true in our investment philosophy. Perfection, in our view, is unattainable and something that if pursued is doomed to fail be it in the expenses involved in the chase or in simply being unable to be right about when to get in AND out of an investment over and over again.
Seeking perfection in markets is a fool’s errand and something that no one has ever been able to consistently deliver.
Like your resolution for 2017, all is not lost. Investing in a well-balanced, diversified portfolio allocated to meet your long term goals without taking more risk than you can tolerate as markets move up and down, you’ll achieve something close to average returns for each asset class you invest in over a long period of time. Add in a highly disciplined rebalancing method that ensures you stay on track, and you’re even more likely to achieve success.
This plan on its face, the idea of aiming for average returns seems merely “good enough.” But in the long run, it will keep you invested, balanced appropriately and will find you leaving those seeking perfection in the dust.
So, whether it’s a short term plan to shed a few extra pounds or a long term plan for meeting your financial goals, don’t give up hope just yet. Just because achieving perfection isn’t possible doesn’t mean that all is lost. Put a plan in place you can TRULY live with, plan on occasionally straying and know what you’ll do to get back on track when you do.
If your goals for the new year are financially motivated, let us know, we’re always happy to help build in a little extra accountability.