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Small Things

Are you constantly searching for the ‘next big thing?’ What if you concentrated on the ‘small things’ instead?

The power of ‘small things’ comes from compounding – one ‘small thing' along with another can have an outsized impact on your life.

While riding my Peloton before the holidays I noticed a series of rides aptly named” stocking stackers.” These small/short rides were designed to ‘stack’ with other rides. Now that the holidays have passed, “stocking” has disappeared but “stackers” continues – the concept must be working for Peloton riders.

Why ‘Small Things’ Hold the Key

Let’s look at a few ‘small things’ when done in combination with other ‘small things’ can make a big difference:

  • Tolerating reasonable risk while understanding you can’t totally circumvent it.
  • Adjusting your perspective as the world changes.
  • Valuing financial market history over forecasts.
  • Learning to think about probabilities including the concept that good decisions can sometimes deliver bad outcomes.
  • Accepting the fact that many things in life are unknowable. 
  • Recognizing the vital importance of your behavior.
  • Realizing there are limits on what you can control. 

Accomplishing what matters most to you rests with these ‘small things.’ Perhaps none of these inspire you standing alone but can be compelling when taken together. Seemingly ordinary habits, beliefs, and skills can be life changing.

All the items in the list above deal with change – how parts of your life can change and more importantly, how you might change in the future. 

How Changes Today Impact You Tomorrow 

Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert, author of the bestseller Stumbling on Happiness has researched how people predict the emotional consequences of future events – what he calls affective forecasting. Professor Gilbert says his work revolves around one central fact – “the world is not how it appears.”

All of the ‘small things’ outlined above revolve around how you make sense of today and how that impacts your future. If you accept Professor Gilbert’s teaching, the things important to you today may not be as important in the future.

You can easily find yourself overly focused on changes in your financial life. Changes, both positive and negative, are the circulating core of everything. 

Instead of looking for ‘big things’, consider how to embrace the 'small things.’ The list above starts with tolerating risk and ends with realizing the limits of your control. Both are behavioral skills that ground you in reality.

‘Small things' contribute to building wealth – growing your money faster than it's spent. Sometimes ‘big things’ with all their sparkle and grandeur actually subtract from your overall wealth. 

Everyone wants the quick fix, the best investment – the highest return. In reality, your financial life improves by honing small skills – the ‘small things.’ Start there. Ready for a real conversation?

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