freedom from worry

If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it's not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.”

Dalai Lama XIV

Whilst we cannot realistically expect to escape worry altogether, it is worth taking the time to consider the things that are worth worrying about. There are some things we can do something about and some things we cannot. A very practical mental model for this was developed by the late Stephen R. Covey in his worldwide best seller "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" in which he introduced the concept of a Circle of Concern and a Circle of Influence.

Within the Circle of Concern are things over which we have little or no control: the sharemarket, the economy, terrorism, the weather.

And then there is the Circle of Influence in which there are things we can do something about such as our health, relationships, personal finances and career.

Covey makes the distinction in his book between "Proactive people" who focus their energy and efforts on their Circle of Influence and constantly work to expand it, as compared to "Reactive people" that tend to worry about and lament the problems of the world, wasting their mental energy and time pondering on matters in the Circle of Concern.

So, when the 2017 Live the Dream research report was published by the Financial Planning Association of Australia (FPA), it made for very interesting reading. Perhaps the most surprising insight revealed by the research was that, above all else, not saving enough was the number one biggest regret.


Some other key insights in this research were:

  • One in five Australians believe that poor financial planning is one of their biggest financial regrets in life so far (21%)
  • One in ten Australians (10%) regret investing in the wrong things.

The good news is that for most of us, these regrets sit directly in the circle of influence.

Retirement Planning done well can avoid the biggest regret of not saving enough, and even for those that have already retired from the workforce, the other regrets can often be appreciably counteracted or even overcome. The right Investment Advice combined with a proven approach to Wealth Management, considerably increases the odds of achieving good financial outcomes.

So, what does your version of Living the Dream look like?

This is the essential question at the heart of every good financial plan. Think about Maslow's hierarchy of needs and your dream life sitting at the top of the pyramid. When you have a clear vision of your desirable future, you will need the support of good financial foundations. This is an incredibly important moment in your life journey because it is all too easy to make a few wrong turns, or worse.

Fortunately, financial science has come a long way in the past 50 years to settle a number of the perplexing questions for us. The term commonly used to describe the real-world application of these scientific findings is Evidence-Based Investing.

Succinctly described, evidence-based investing is investing based on data rather than on a narrative or story. This is not a new concept - that good decision making is best supported by reference to the available empirical evidence. We all rely on advances in scientific understanding in medicine, law and engineering and so it is perhaps surprising that when it comes to investing, speculation and story-telling is still commonplace. Perhaps this is why financial regrets feature so prominently in the FPA Research report.

So while freedom from worry altogether is not realistic, there are certainly practical choices available to capably handle life's challenges. Proactive people all around Australia, intent on expanding their Circle of Influence, are taking evidence-based action and setting themselves up for a better financial future.

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Financial Life Planning is a holistic process
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