What Are You Focusing On?
Note: this post appeared on my previous blog and was published 02.21.2017
As humans I do not believe we are wired or preprogrammed to worry. I'm not sure when we pick up the "worry" trait, but it happens. And it's not when we're kids. Think about it.
Maybe you see it in your own kids. I know I see it in mine. Maybe they're doing something around the house, wrestling or running full speed MACH 2 around the living room - you know, just being completely crazy kids. Whatever it is, the ending is likely not going to be good. Think trip to the Emergency Room. As parents, it's our instinct to blurt out something to effect of, "Be careful!" Or, "Don't hurt yourself!" Right?
We, the adults, know the potential outcome of an off-the-top rope (couch), full out body slam onto a sibling. But let's be real here. As kids, we are definitely not worried about being careful or getting hurt - we are in the moment. But somehow, along the way, we transform from worry-free and care-free, to worrisome and careful.
Let's think about it for a minute. Go back to the last time you were anticipating a trip or vacation. For many of us, the weather on said trip plays a big role. Maybe it's a ski trip, and the forecast is for warm weather and rain, not cold weather and fresh powder. Frustrating, right? So in the 7-10 days leading up to the trip, you now find yourself checking the weather daily.
"Maybe it changed this time."
Now let's step back out and think about what it is we're focusing on. We're no longer the care-free kid jumping off the couch. We're focusing on the weather. Something none of us has any control over. Yet, for some, it can become consuming. It can create stress, worry, anxiety, or fear. It might put us in a bad mood or distract us from other important areas of our life.
In our financial lives, we are guilty of the same concept. We watch the financial news and might see headlines like "markets plummet," "economic growth slow for Q3," or "Fed says interest rates to rise soon." Or these headlines could be the total opposite. It doesn't matter, really. The point is we can't control any of it. Just like the weather.
This concept, this idea of focusing only on what we can control, is a complete shift in mindset for some. A behavioral change. And that can be hard. Now, I’m not suggesting we turn back to our childhood and become totally worry-free, care-free. We addressed that here (Ostrich Effect).
What I'm suggesting is we work to shift our focus away from factors we can't control - like the stock markets, the weather, or even bad traffic - and put the emphasis on those financial factors we can control.
When we can do that, we begin to free ourselves from the worried, stressed, anxious mindset. And we begin to experience improved financial confidence, clearer direction vision, and improved financial behavior.
What areas of your financial life stress you out, keep you up at night or worried?
Can you control these areas?
What about in your personal life?
Ask yourself how it would feel to be in better control of your financial &/or personal life?