Focusing on what you Can Control

Contributed by: Nick Defenthaler, CFP® Nick Defenthaler

“Don’t stress about the stuff you can’t control, doing so will ruin the present.” Simple but powerful advice my dad gave me nearly a decade ago which has always stuck with me. Personally, I’ve always been a bit of a “worry wart.” Those words of wisdom, however, provided by my dad—that I probably already knew, but needed to hear from someone I loved and respected—have proven to dramatically reduce the things I lose sleep over because that I know deep down that I have virtually no control over them. As I had to remind myself of this recently, it made me think of a graphic J.P. Morgan put together that we often times share with clients:

Often times, the major area that we as investors become fixated on (and rightfully so!) are market returns. Ironically, this is an area, as the chart shows, we have no control over. The same goes for policies surrounding taxation, savings and benefits. As you can see, employment and longevity are things we do have some control over, by investing in our own human capital and our health. The areas that we have total control over—saving vs. spending, and asset allocation and location—are what we need to focus on, in my opinion. Consistent and prudent saving, living within (or ideally, below) your means, and maintaining a proper mix of stocks and bonds within your portfolio are what we try to have clients be laser focused on. Over the course of 31 years of helping clients achieve their financial goals, The Center has come to realize that those two areas are the largest contributors of a successful financial plan. 

With so many uncertainties in the world we live in today that can impact the market, it’s always a timely reminder to focus on the areas that we have control over and make sure we get those things right.  Chances are, if we do, the other things that we might be stressing over today, will potentially fall into place. If you need help focusing on the areas of your financial wellbeing in which you CAN control, give us a call! We’re always happy to help.

Nick Defenthaler, CFP® is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ at Center for Financial Planning, Inc.® Nick is a member of The Center’s financial planning department and also works closely with Center clients. In addition, Nick is a frequent contributor to the firm’s blogs.

Opinions expressed are those of Nick Defenthaler, and are not necessarily those of Raymond James. Investing involves risk and investors may incur a profit or a loss regardless of the strategy or strategies employed. Asset allocation does not ensure a profit or guarantee against loss.