Why would anybody pay someone to evaluate their financial situation and not be truthful with that person? It seems like a waste of time, money and effort.
Yet, we’re all guilty of doing this exact thing! We all go to various professionals for help several times a year and don’t do what they tell us to do. Financial planners develop strategies to help us reach our financial goals. Doctors provide care and prescriptions to treat our ailments. Dentists clean our teeth and tell us to brush/floss at least twice a day . Personal-trainers develop workout plans to help us achieve our fitness goals. Nutritionists develop diet plans to help us eat the right things. Not to mention, we can find the “right ways” to do just about anything on the internet. We have all the answers to our problems at our fingertips! So why do we still struggle with making these changes?
It’s easy to get distracted from what’s in OUR best interest because life seems to get increasingly more complicated with each day.
Emotions get the best of us and make us act out of line. Some of us can’t stand to see a disappointed face when we tell a loved one “no”. It’s difficult to reject social norms and break away from “the herd”. It’s hard work to determine what truly is in our best interest.
This brings me to a quote I read recently in “Ego is the Enemy” by Ryan Holiday.
I’ve been reading a lot from the Stoics recently via Ryan Holiday. The primary task in Stoicism is self-reflection. The caveat here is that we have to be 100% honest in these reflections. If we can’t be honest with ourselves, who can we be honest with?
Reflection creates awareness. It lets us identify areas of our lives that we would like to change. This is where the professionals mentioned above can help us. If we’d like to fix our finances, go see a financial planner. If we want to lose weight, go to a personal trainer and nutritionist. It’s that simple, right?! Not so fast.
While we can outsource “how to change”, we can’t outsource actually making the change. That still falls directly on us.
This is where we need to become a fiduciary to ourselves. A fiduciary is someone who is legally obligated to act in your best interest. The term fiduciary has been pushed to the forefront of the financial industry over the last few years. The investing public has started to realize that investment advisors should be held to this standard. While this is an important change in finance, it can and should be applied to our everyday relationship with ourselves.
It may seem selfish to be a self-fiduciary. A good analogy here is what they say before taking off on a flight; put your oxygen mask on first before trying to help others. Fix yourself before you try to fix the world.
Determine what is in your best interest through honest self-reflection. Figure out how to make the necessary changes. You’ll make the change if it truly is a priority to you. If you don’t, it never really was a priority in the first place. You stay focused throughout this process by acting in your own best interest, by being a self-fiduciary.