We are constantly bombarded with information—everything we see is BREAKING NEWS! Yet, what is actual news? How does one discern? Most importantly, where are you right now as it relates to the information you are receiving?
When it comes to our personal finances, it is difficult to separate our own stories and feelings from facts. What I find particularly useful in my own personal finance story is to separate what is impactful today, five days from now, and five years from now. I find that when I do so, the story changes and often can shift more quickly from feelings to facts.
Over the past year, I have personally gone through many changes in my life and family. Some of these changes have indeed been—breaking news—to my family and friends. It was difficult at times to not get bogged down in the stories and thoughts, trapped in narrow thinking about today, and today only. What was most useful to me was to reframe my focus on the next five hours, five days, and five years.
I think there is a parallel to our constant bombardment of data regarding the markets. What is the best investment today? What is the market doing today? The critical question is, are you on the path to achieve your goals and objectives—what is most important to you? If you are indeed well-planned, the day-to-day swing of your investment portfolio is only one data point. Five years from now, will it matter what the market did today? It is highly unlikely. There are only a few days in history that are truly historical. And, even in retrospect, those still may have minimal impact to a well-planned financial journey.
Life is full of the unexpected. Life is full of experiences we think we can control, but ultimately cannot. As I reflect on the past year, there were so many moments that seemed like the breaking news was Armageddon. Focusing on what matters in the next five hours, five days, and five years helped me. Perhaps focusing on a similar timetable in your own personal financial journey might prove helpful.
My crystal ball for the future is broken, and I suspect yours is, too. Together, we can sift through what truly is most impactful in helping you achieve what is important to you and help you feel secure on that journey. Sifting through the stories, feelings, thoughts, and facts may become easier with the right focus.
The information provided in this article is intended for Carlson Retirement Plan Services plan participants. We recommend that individuals consult with a professional adviser familiar with their particular situation for advice concerning specific investment, accounting, tax, and legal matters before taking any action.
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