We love control. You name it, we’d probably prefer to control it. But from the weather to our kids, there are limits to what we can control, and in no place is this more clear than our finances.
For a long time I’ve watched people think they’re in control when in reality they’re letting overconfidence blind them to the truth. We don’t know all possible outcomes, and we’ve shown a biological tendency to react badly when we’re surprised. When it comes to money, it’s very easy to get caught up in the moment or make assumptions that seem obvious. Unfortunately what seems obvious now often gets turned on its head by events that seemed impossible. What would happen if instead of trying to focus on everything, we only focused on the things that really mattered and the things that we can control?
For example, Chelsea football club are currently facing a lot of criticism about their style of play, to the extent that the Liverpool manager, Brendan Rogers, suggested they had parked two buses in front of their goalkeeper in their recent match, where Chelsea won 2-0! Chelsea’s coach and team can do nothing to control what people say about them. What they could control was how well they played the game.
We need to be like Chelsea and focus on what really matters. The reality is that we can’t control everything. So we risk losing our focus on the things that we can control. Some things are out of our reach, so why waste time and energy beating ourselves up for not fixing these problems?
We can’t control the markets, but we can control how we react to the markets. We can’t fix global economic problems, but we can tackle our own financial issues. Some people believe this view is limiting and that it holds them back. I believe it frees you to live the life you want.
Money makes many things in life possible, but when we become too focused on the aspects we can’t control, it just makes us miserable. At some point we have to say, “Enough.” Taking a stand isn’t easy though. There will always be the temptation of the sure thing that tries to pull us away from our plan. There will be moments when we’re completely convinced that we know what will happen, and we’re fools if we don’t act. Ultimately you have to ask the question, “Does this really matter and do I actually have control?” Based on the answer, you’ll know whether it’s worth your time and energy. That’s where Financial life Planning and Financial INdependence can help. Having a life plan means that you take the time to decide what’s important to you, focus on what you can control and not get distracted along the way.