I first wrote this post three years ago, but it’s one I personally think of often. With all of the stress, struggles, highs, and lows that have been unavoidable facts of life in 2020, I feel compelled to share an old but refreshing perspective that feels appropriate in the moment. Think of it as familiar comfort food for tired financial minds.
Happy Thanksgiving! My sincere hope is that you have much to be thankful for.
Perhaps the approaching Thanksgiving holiday has made me more sensitive to this type of thing, but in the process of counting my blessings I’ve started to become more cognizant of just how negative investing discussions can quickly become. Turn on the TV or browse the internet, and it seems there is a never ending stream of stories feeding your sense of financial inferiority. The better ones tend to focus on how to avoid stress, fear, and greed which is certainly a good message, although running from negative emotions still is not particularly motivational.
The more I think about it, the more I realize there are surprisingly few people out there describing a vision of a healthy investing mindset to aspire to. That’s a shame, as investing is about so much more than flooring it on a mountain pass while struggling to keep the car on the road. So let’s take a moment to pull over, check out the scenery, and think about the real purpose of our journey.
After years of learning the hard way, I’ve come to appreciate that successful investing requires not only a smart plan but also a positive outlook. In my experience, the transition involved a shift in thinking from one of scarcity where more is always better to one of abundance where the concept of “enough” unlocks entire new areas of personal fulfillment. And the key to that abundance mindset is a simple principle that investors too often take for granted — Thankfulness.
Are you a thankful investor?
You realize you have zero need or desire to check your account balances every day and you are thankful for the educated and justified confidence you have in your portfolio and financial plan.
You are thankful for the time you have for hobbies, family, and interesting side projects that are all far more enjoyable and rewarding to you than constantly researching companies or actively managing your investments.
You are thankful for the many low-cost investing options and free information available today and are not at all tempted by expensive money managers promising more than they can deliver for the price.
When you hear others worrying about how the market just crashed or may struggle in the near future, you are thankful that you planned ahead and chose a portfolio suitable to weather the storm with no action required.
When other portfolios are doing extremely well, you are happy for those investors but feel no envy because you are thankful that your own portfolio consistently meets your financial needs just fine.
While retirement is absolutely part of your long-term strategy and you look forward to the day when paid work is an option rather than a requirement, you are thankful for your job that provides for your family and allows you to save towards larger goals.
To the extent that work causes you stress, you are thankful that your savings and investments empower you to say “no” without fear of the potential financial consequences that might prevent others from having such a voice.
Rationalizing increasingly risky investments for the prospect of incremental luxuries seems completely unnecessary because you are thankful for the simple things in life that truly make you happy and cost very little.
You are thankful for how your portfolio that meets your financial and emotional needs has given you the confidence to ignore outside criticism and to always be supportive of others rather than compete for investing supremacy.
I don’t know about you, but I think that sort of positive mindset sounds terrific. The goal of cruising down the scenic financial road with your head out the window enjoying the view is exactly what more people should think about rather than holding the wheel with white knuckles, dodging obstacles around every corner, getting frustrated any time someone else passes you, and desperately trying not to lose control at increasingly reckless speeds.
I don’t claim to have it all figured out personally, and I also don’t want to diminish the real financial challenges that many of us face at some point. But this Thanksgiving week I challenge you to set aside the stress, fear, and greed that may motivate your financial decisions today and to picture the financial life you really want to live.
What steps can you take today to be a thankful investor?
Celebrate the season by giving a small token of thanks.