Over the past couple of weeks, I have spent a lot of time researching the ins and outs of personal finance and investing. Given my academic background in economics, it should come as no surprise that I enter this topic not only with interest, but with a stronger foundation of knowledge than the average person.
That being said, I still have had to be quite meticulous in preparing my and Morgan’s finances for the investment scenario that fits us best because there is so much misleading and veil-covered information out there.
Given the current state of affairs with the average American carrying an absurd amount of debt while holding next to no savings for retirement, the topic of investing clearly isn’t all too popular. And for those that do take interest, they tend to throw their money at the wall and hope something sticks without a clear strategy.
All of this gets wrapped up into a story that is repeated over and over again on the news cycle, but nothing ever changes. Case and point, we aren’t far removed from the Great Recession, yet we continue to spend money we don’t have as if it’s all just play money anyway. It’s the American way, right?
The average knowledge on personal finance and investing remains low, and the profits of the big name financial institutions continue to skyrocket. Institutions you would hope are there to lend you support, instead have little regard for your financial security.
All of this is to get at a broader topic of discussion about our natural tendency to avoid things that are uncomfortable. There are few things less interesting than using our free time to take care of tasks that will have a positive effect on our future, but will cost us in the present. This cost-benefit paradox we face is summed up in one trendy word: procrastination.
We have a love affair with seeking out immediate pleasure, while allowing a knot in our stomachs to grow bigger and bigger until we can no longer ignore it. The task that could have been completed hours, days, weeks, or years earlier can no longer wait and we flood our bodies with unnecessary stress and anxiety. We don’t need science to tell us we like feeling “good,” but we do need it to tell us we like feeling this way too much.
When taking care of a small task that makes us feel “bad” can lead to making us feel great for much longer periods of time, we fail to believe this reality. We have an asymmetric response to bad things versus good (with the bad things dominating our memory) that constantly causes us to make less than favorable choices.
People that are able to buck this trend discover a new level of happiness that was once a dream. They don’t have to have an inordinate amount of money or have a sense of superiority among their peers. They simply find that enduring the cost before receiving the benefit allows them to enjoy more tomorrows by grinding it out today.
This new way of thinking puts them in the driver seat of their own life, and it would behoove them to hand the wheel back over to someone else. So, if others can do it, why can’t you?
The time for excuses and self-pity is over. Over here at Your Pen Paul, we live and breathe the mantra “let life in and level up.” If you continue watching life go by without actively participating in it, making the most of every day you have the privilege of breathing, then you’ll wake up one day on your death bed and wonder where the time went.
This is not your destiny. You are meant to take advantage of every second you are alive and in doing so will spend each day invigorated and ready to commit to action.
You will unlock the door to your curiosity and learn how to conquer the things you once thought were impossible.
You’ll turn the anxiety of money into a playful game that continuously works in your favor. You’ll take pride in tidying up your home because the dopamine rush of having a clean living space is too good not to feel, not to mention the increase in efficiency you will lend yourself by not having to search endlessly for that “one thing” you always lose.
You’ll skip the reruns and go find greater joy in actually running. You’ll finally read that book that’s been taunting you for years and gain invaluable insights about the world around you. You’ll discover interests you never knew you had interest in.
Ultimately, you’ll turn the drudgery of life into the fulfilling adventure you always knew it could be. You’ll be able to reflect back on the day you finally decided enough was enough and that you deserved better. So, why not let that day be today? Go do that one thing you have been putting off for an eternity, then do it again and again and again. Remember, “vision without action is just a dream.”