What does it take to improve your health, wellness, and overall physique? The answer is to have a consistent exercise program and eat well. Diet and exercise, when used collectively, provide the greatest chance for you to see results. So what then will improve your financial health, wellness, and portfolio physique? Let’s discuss!
I’m going to reference a lot from The Power of Habit, which has an excellent chapter on Starbucks and their use of willpower in educational programs.
In the book, researchers at Case Western Reserve University tested the willpower of students by having them sit at a desk between two bowls. One bowl contained freshly baked cookies, while the other contained radishes. The test was to see if they forced one group to eat only cookies and the other group to eat only radishes, who would perform better at completing various puzzles.
Which group would you rather be?
What happened after the study (not shocking) was that the kids who ate cookies were relaxed, took their time to work on the puzzles, and seemed to be happy. While the kids forced to eat radishes were upset, frustrated, and stressed out.
By making people use a bit of their willpower to ignore cookies, we had put them into a state where they were willing to quit much faster
Just as it’s hard to avoid freshly baked cookies, it’s also hard holding onto your investment strategy during volatile markets. And like it’s hard to skip happy hour with your friends, it’s also hard to avoid the temptation to overspend. When we are constantly bombarded by things attacking our attention, it’s very hard to focus on making the best decisions for either our health or money.
As I write this piece, the internet is peppered with Amazon Prime Day ads, incentivizing customers to blow their entire paycheck on some new Alexa product. If you read my earlier article, Information Overload, I explained how the major technology firms attack your heart, brain, gut, and desire, and Prime Day is a perfect example.
Now, more than ever, the battle over consumers time and attention have never been greater. Marketing departments in every industry are working day and night to find the best way to steal your time. Finding time to stick to a workout routine or investment plan has never been more difficult.
So here are a few tips to hopefully keep you somewhat focused on the future:
FOCUS ON THE LONG GAME
You will not wake up tomorrow with six-pack abs, nor will you wake up with market-crushing investment returns. You can’t plan to win the lottery this weekend, just as you probably won’t correct a spending habit overnight.
It takes time and dedication for both your fitness and finances to see best results. Working out for only a few weeks seems useless but once your body begins to transform all the results are clear. This is exactly the same as allowing your portfolio an extended time period to grow. Extend your investment holding period out another 5+ years and watch the results.
PLATEAU’S ARE NORMAL
Personally, plateauing in fitness is way more painful than in your finances. When you have been diligently eating and hitting the gym each morning, seeing no results or improvement can be tough. This is where your mental state comes in and your willingness to work through it is key. Understanding how to navigate through a plateau is crucial towards your physical development.
The same thing is true with investing. THE STOCK MARKET DOESN’T ALWAYS GO UP!
Aswath Damadorian does a great job tracking annual stock market returns. If you double back on my expectations article you will see that it is very common to see a year with flat market returns. This is the equivalent of your workout plateau. Just chill out, hold your strategy and keep your contributions going. Your focus should be on your personal finances (debt & savings) anyways so don’t worry too much about yearly market returns.
MAKE IT A LIFESTYLE
Fitness and finances are lifestyle decisions. None of anything I have written will be useful if you don’t care about applying it.
If your plan is to go through life mindlessly, expecting your future to be taken care of for you, your an idiot. There are so many issues with entitlements, savings rates, 401k participation rates, and debt loads that people really have to make lifestyle decisions to correct their finances.
E-Trade does an amazing job with their marketing campaigns and this slogan of “don’t get mad, get E-Trade.” The thought here is to stop hoping your lottery winnings arrive soon and instead start building something yourself.
You have to make lifestyle changes for best results in any exercise program. A lot of these same changes will fall over into your personal finances as well.
In The Power of Habit, radish/cookie test was expanded into a personal finance and exercise program. These programs eventually created almost a trickle-down improvement into each other category. You start working out, you make better meal decisions and avoid cheat meals/drinks. This reduction in cheat meals, fast food, and alcohol consumption actually improved the monthly savings rates of individuals studied.
AVOID THE GET RICH/FIT QUICK SCHEMES
Every time I step onto the tee box at a golf course, I mentally picture myself piping a drive down the center of the fairway. What happens next, is almost never a drive down the center of the fairway. This is part of the reason golf is such a mental game, you have to get out of your head if you want to be any good.
It doesn’t matter which diet you found, what investment strategy you discover, or investment vehicle you want to buy. Nothing is going to get you fit or rich quick. They all require the same two things: persistence and patience.
Millions of cognitive biases (our brain playing tricks on us) end up convincing us that we need to go ahead and do something.
- Let’s buy a stock after its run up 1000% because ABC News did a headline on it!
- FOX just did a survey on a new diet with excellent results!
- Joe, my barber, is making a killing off cryptocurrencies!
Nobody ever sells the downside of these schemes which is what you need to be paying attention to!
- 1000% stock gain has dropped over 50% on 20+ occasions
- FOX new diet was a sample size of 4 people
- Joe, the cryptocurrency trader, was just lying to your face