Define Your Mission

by Jeff C. Johnson

In my previous post I stated that maintaining your investment positions through the inevitable ups and downs of the stock market is the best way to be in “the right place at the right time.”

Everyone has heard this, most people know it, but some people just cannot do it!

Leading up to the recent election, I had more than a few clients ask, “What’s going to happen to the market if my candidate wins or loses? Maybe I should get out and put my investments in cash just in case. What do you think?”

Legendary investor George Soros has said, “The future is unknown and unknowable.” Over the last nearly 40 years, I have found this to be true, especially regarding the short-term market fluctuations. Rather than try to guess, speculate, or time the ups and downs, it’s almost always better to stay with a solid portfolio built based on long-term evidence.

Still, there is an overwhelming desire on the part of many to sell, raise cash when it’s uncertain (and prices low or soft), and then attempt to get invested again when things look more predictable (when prices are higher). Selling low, buying higher is not the way to enhance returns!

To prevent emotional decisions (i.e,. selling during uncertain times), define your mission and consider how your money will support your lifetime vision.

Here’s your assignment:

 Take some quiet time, when you’re rested and relaxed and do some thinking and note taking. A hot coffee or icy cold cocktail might aid you in your thinking:

  1. Make a list of at least five things that you really want to do and haven’t done.
  2. Make a list of at least five things that you should do.
  3. Make a list of at least five things that you are very good at doing.
  4. Make a list of at least five things that you have done, that you enjoy and that you would like to do again.

Each of these lists can be more than five items.

If you need help developing your lists, consider the following areas of your life:

  • Your physical life and health.
  • Your family and other relationships.
  • Your financial life.
  • Your career or profession.
  • Your leisure pursuits.
  • Your spiritual or religious life.

What’s important about these parts of your life that could find its way onto one or more of your four life lists?

Connect the dots between the lists. What themes are common in your life vision? Now write a statement or just a simple action list of the most important areas. Don’t worry about grammar, punctuation, or spelling—it’s your list and you don’t need to share it with anyone!

Early in my working career a wise client told me, “Money isn’t important. It’s what money can do for you and the people you love that is important.”

It takes thinking and effort to focus your life, on what’s most important, and not on the daily fluctuation of your investments or the news flash of the moment.

And, of course, involving a fiduciary wealth adviser is a good idea if you’ve had less than solid results due to random decisions and emotion-driven actions.