In the United States, the upcoming Labor Day weekend marks the unofficial end of summer. It’s been an amazing and memorable summer for me and my family. I hope the same is true for you. During the past few months, however, I’ve been reminded of a lesson I should know by heart, but it’s something that still trips me up from time to time.
If I’m not careful, I can get stuck on the idea of wanting things to be perfect. Whether it’s planning the perfect trip for my family or creating the perfect presentation for an event, there are moments when I let this idea of perfect get in the way. It seems like such a good goal, right? Who wouldn’t want to be perfect at something?
The reality is that chasing perfection rarely leads to satisfaction because there are so many things outside our control. In fact, I can assure you that’s it’s an all-but-guaranteed path to insanely high levels of frustration. I mention this chase because I get the impression that some of you have become preoccupied with the idea of finding the perfect investment.
Maybe you’ve got your eye on an upcoming IPO or you’re watching a particular stock that’s performed well. Whatever the criteria, you think that maybe, just maybe, you might be on to something. But investing decisions, if they could ever qualify as perfect, rarely stay perfect for long because we’re human.
The markets themselves are a reflection of our humanity and how we feel at any given moment. The latest jobs report gets released and unemployment goes down. Great! The market goes up. A few days later, the housing report shows a drop in sales over the previous year. Bummer. The market goes down.
When we make perfection our financial goal, it’s an incredibly difficult one to achieve. There are so many variables at play that it becomes a bit like a game of Whac-a-Mole. Where will the next problem pop up? It seems like one of the least productive things we can do is chase something that isn’t easily caught and rarely meets our expectations for long.
What if instead of chasing perfection, we went looking for something a little simpler? What if we focus on finding financial options that meet most of our wants and still leave us time and energy to do things we enjoy?
I think it comes down to making the most of any particular situation and not beating ourselves up over the things we can’t control. For instance, it would have been very easy this summer to let the lack of perfection get in the way of having a wonderful time on my family vacation or enjoying myself at a speaking event where I met many of you.
I can’t believe I was ever tempted to trade those memories for what I thought was perfect. So do yourself a favor this weekend and relearn a lesson that probably applies to all of us. Perfection is rarely the goal that really matters.
Stay safe this weekend, and I’ll see you next week.
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