When Setting Goals, Always Trust the Process
Last week, we began to discuss goal-based investing as we wanted to address what was happening in the markets and our investment philosophy.
Let's take another step back and examine the actual process of setting goals.
The beginning of the year is often when many people set time aside to contemplate what they want to achieve or resolve over the next year.
We may find ourselves asking, “what are my goals”?
To make the progress that we want to make, we may need to reframe how we ask that question. Instead of asking what the goal is, should we be asking what the action is? What is the one thing you can do today to get you closer to where you want to be?
This question doesn't necessarily mean you don't have goals; it's just a way to shift the focus on the process, on the behavior, on the system that you've created to enable you to move closer to where you want to be.
The outcomes that you achieve are the results of the process. The correct processes, repeated over time, lead to good outcomes more often than lazy processes do.
Focusing solely on outcomes may force us to make choices that are short-term or selfish. It takes our focus away from the journey and encourages us to give up too early.
Let's not forget the topic from last month. Be mindful of your expectations and be kind to yourself if you don't see the results you hoped to see. Often, when we sit down to explore our goals for a specific period, we may get too aggressive on what we think we can accomplish. It's ok to start small, as those little things done with consistency can have a compound effect.
As Joel Embiid always says - Trust the Process.
Forming New Habits
Forming new habits - and breaking bad ones with technology and automation.
The best way to break a bad habit is to make it impossible to do. For example, you can always remove Social Media Apps from your phone. Studies show that the average person scrolls a football field a day of social media content.
In other words, the best way to create a good habit is to automate it. That way, you never have to think about it again.
Let's look at company retirement contributions as an example. Maybe you work for a company that offers a retirement plan to which you can contribute. You were either self-selected or auto-enrolled with the option to opt-out of the plan. This one-time behavior of enrolling in the plan makes it easier for you to create a good savings behavior. If the company is pitching in their own dollars to match some of your contributions, that could be even better for you too.
How else can you create good habits by taking these principles and using technology to your advantage?
You can automate a portion of your income to a savings account to build reserves that cover 3-6 months of your expenses. If you have already created these reserves to protect you in an emergency, automating that portion of income to an investment account could be an even better option.
If you can also create a buffer in your everyday spending account, we recommend setting up automatic payments for your regular fixed expenses such as the phone bill, utilities, insurance, internet/cable, and credit cards.