If you think about it, the blogs I write every week boil down to posing a question or a topic to my readers that then requires one thing of them: a decision. Decisions can be difficult to make. When it comes to the financial realm, the pressure is on to make the “right choice” with the best outcome.
Many of the families I speak with have told me after seeing a plan we’ve laid out or what their options are for retirement that they honestly just don’t know how to decide on anything—so, they end up stuck in limbo. Being stuck there isn’t going to get you anywhere…that’s why they call it “limbo”, not “Florida beach house” or “vacation of my dreams”. This week, I want to discuss some of the methods I’ve used that have gotten me out of my own financial limbos.
The first route is an obvious one: weigh the pros and cons of what you’re considering.
Don’t approach the issue just from a monetary perspective. Ask yourself if you’ll be better emotionally and physically, perhaps even what effects the choice might have on those around you. Don’t just let thoughts ping-pong around in your mind either—find a way to physically lay out your options to get a better perspective.
One method I like to employ is a simple Pro/Con list, used by the likes of Benjamin Franklin when he was faced with a tough decision. If you have 3 options to decide from, make a list for each route you’re considering—then make a fourth to represent not choosing any of those and continuing the status quo. Doing this can help you see both sides of an issue and really think through how it might affect you.
The second thing to remember is that a decision can either be made by you or for you.
I realize that might sound a little confusing. Think of it this way: let’s say you need to make a plan regarding your health. You can either make the decision based on the information you have at the time, or you can pass that choice over to your loved ones and caregivers to make for you. Maybe you’re choosing a new car to buy. Make sure that you’re not easily roped in by a good sales pitch or shady contract agreements—because once that happens, it’s starting to no longer become your choice. In that instance, you’ve given the decision-making power over to the salesperson, rather than your own best interest.
My last tip is simple: go with your gut.
To show this in action, I can draw from my own experience. Recently we met with a family that was considering our firm to manage their investments. They were comparing us against a national firm and basically framing it in their minds as Firm A (us) vs Firm B (the national option). We prepared our normal reports to show how we could make a difference. The other firm did the same, and both choices seemed to weigh evenly in what the clients would be getting. In the end, the gentleman selected our firm to move his investments to. When I questioned him out of curiosity as to what led him to his choice, he said that he “felt it in his gut”. There’s no logic or reasoning behind some of the things we do in life—but sometimes an initial twinge of a feeling ultimately leads us to a life-changing decision. Be willing to listen to your first instinct and trust yourself to act in your own best interest.
In the end, you’ve got to make a choice at the end of the day you can live with. Choose something, and once you’ve chosen, stick with it. You don’t always have to agonize over every life choice, because it’s not about perfection—it’s about progress.