Taking the easy way out – it is so overwhelmingly tempting it’s a surprise that we ever agree to do something that we’ve accepted gets us where we need to be but that is going to be tedious, difficult, ignored by others, or worse, scoffed at. The practice of self discipline can be life changing once mastered.
This is true in the pursuit of good health. Having the discipline to eat good things in small amounts, working your body through exercise, resting your mind and your body, getting involved in things, people and organizations you genuinely care about. It is true in relationships. Making time for the people you care about, live with, work with, and really listening to them and sharing yourself with them in spite of life’s persistent pulse of distractions. It is true about your financial life. Too often investors through their own behavior “continue to earn returns that are far lower than those often quoted by mutual fund firms. In fact, it’s not even a close race.” (Dalbar, Inc. 2010 Quantitative Analysis of Investor Behavior)
What can you do to begin to become more disciplined in your financial life? Let go of ‘conventional wisdom. After nearly 20 years as a Certified Financial Planner Practitioner™, I can tell you investors too often believe there is some magic to financial planning. Instead of paying close attention to decisions on the costs and consequences of mortgages, insurance, college, cars, divorce, selling a business, having children and many other expensive decisions, they focus on the return of their investments over short periods. That’s missing the forest for the trees. If you are a disciplined (looks boring to undisciplined investors) investor who is invested in low cost diversified investments across all asset classes, the other things listed should be your primary concerns – not the short term return of consciously invested portfolio.
Discipline determines destiny in many of life’s endeavors. What’s your financial destiny look like?