I have spent most of my career in the finance industry. And through all the stock market highs and lows I’ve witnessed, one thing has remained unchanged: whenever there is uncertainty or volatility in the capital markets, the media must choose a villain.
In 2009, writing in Rolling Stone, journalist Matt Taibbi famously described Goldman Sachs as a “great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money”. Wow. What a lovely image.
But not entirely accurate in my opinion.
Banishing the Ghosts of Investment Mythology
The villain of the investing world for most normal people is not who you think it is. It is not the colorful cast of characters typically portrayed in the news.
- Not Wall Street
- Not the Fed
- Not politicians
- Not Bernie Madoff
- Not broker-dealers
- Not bankers (aka “banksters”)
- Not hedge fund managers
How to Spot the True Villain
So who or what is the number one financial vampire in America? Fear. And its blood-sucking cousin, Drift.
- Fear of losing the freedom to spend your time the way you want
- Fear of not having enough, whatever ‘enough’ means to you
- Fear of making financial mistakes
- Fear of being a target, because of your money
- Fear of being insignificant because you don’t have money
- Fear of having money and being alone
- Fear of slowly losing your health and, by extension, your wealth
- Fear of losing savings you’ve worked your entire life to build
- Fear of being unable to support your family’s needs
- Fear of disappointing your loved ones because you can’t afford their wants
Why Drift? Because these fears paralyze you. And instead of taking positive action, you do what any deer in the headlights would do. Nothing.
Harness the Right Demons
Wall Street financiers, greedy salespeople, and pyramid scheme architects aren’t innocent. There are real monsters out there you need to avoid. But they aren’t the only villains. And they are not the ones YOU have the power to control.
Just like Darth Vader, there is good in Fear. Fear alerts us to the presence of danger or the threat of harm. It is a natural, powerful, and primitive human emotion. We just need to learn to harness this demon.
How to Overcome Your Investment Fears
How do you overcome fear when it comes to your personal finances? Here are three simple steps you can take to get you started:
#1: Start by Identifying Your Biggest Pain Point
Focus on solving ONE important financial concern for your family instead of 10 of them at the same time. Sometimes the greatest fear is just getting organized and getting started.
#2: Reflect on the Ways You React When Markets Get Spooky
Do you let fear cloud your financial decision making? Do you get caught up in a frenzy when times are good? Reflect on your behavior when you encounter both the fear of loss and the fear of missing out. Research ways or talk to an advisor to help ‘trick’ yourself out of bad behavior.
#3: Create Automated Systems to Save and Invest
Make this the ‘default’ for your financial decisions instead of requiring you to act on your finances. Systemization is how you slay the ugly werewolf known as Drift.
Build Your Ghost-Busting Team
If you’d like any additional help overcoming your fear of investing, I’d love to chat with you. Book a complimentary 30-minute discovery call and let’s sweep those cobwebs away and help you start enjoying all the treats the financial markets have to offer.
Have a boo-tiful Halloween!