Success is in the eyes of the beholder

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Quite often, society defines success strictly in terms of the accumulation of material items. We are defined by how we dress, what kind of houses we live in, what cars we drive, and how much money we make.
It is unfortunate that we idolize the wealthy with shows like “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” and “Housewives of Beverly Hills.” No wonder the holidays that just passed can be a stressful time for many as a sense of inadequacy comes to the fore. It is time for us to stop all of this nonsense and begin to focus on what each of us defines as success. With nearly 35 years of providing advice, we find that the clients who are content with their financial situation tend to focus on the following:
• They concentrate on their own definition of success. Perhaps success to you is having your evenings free to spend time with your family, to go fishing, kayaking or for a bike ride in the park. Many see success as having flexibility in their job such as telecommuting or flexible work hours. Such items are valuable as they add to the quality of your life.
• They recognize that their economic standing is represented by more than just the value of their portfolio. It also may include the value of a defined benefit pension plan, security in their employment, satisfaction in having co-workers’ respect and in a job well done. Other overlooked assets are having little debt, money in the bank and support from family and friends during times of economic or emotional need.
• Creating a positive financial well-being entails worry about those issues that you can control and not concern about those that are out of your control. For that which you are unable to control, you are able to control your response. This includes focusing on allocating your assets appropriately for your objectives and not on the day-to-day fluctuations in the financial markets.
• Successful investors recognize that discipline is the key. It removes the emotion from the decision-making process. Many spend way too much time determining what stock to buy rather than when to sell. Have a plan for both potential outcomes—successes and failures.
• In addition, successful investors recognize that failures come with the territory. It is not important to be correct all the time but, rather, over time. This starts with allocating your investment assets according to your objectives and not making material changes to this equation unless something materially changes in your life. Successful investors know that well-laid plans are your best shot at success. They rest comfortably in this knowledge.
• Successful investors also recognize that this is a journey, not unlike marriage. There are some good times and some bad, but for many, the long-term experience is very rewarding. In fact, despite the bear market of 2008, stocks as represented by the S&P 500 have risen by an average of more than seven percent per year over the past decade, when including dividends (as of market close 13-Dec 2017).
• Successful investors embrace change, continually learn, take calculated changes but accept and are at peace with failure. Successful investors also have a positive, glass half-full attitude.
For 2018, we wish peace, good health, happiness and contentment in your lives and hope that you recognize that abundance is in the eyes of the beholder.
Please note that all data is for general information purposes only and not meant as specific recommendations. The opinions of the authors are not a recommendation to buy or sell the stock, bond market or any security contained therein. Securities contain risks, and fluctuations in principal will occur. Please research any investment thoroughly prior to committing money or consult with your financial advisor. Please note that Fagan Associates, Inc. or related persons buy or sell for itself securities that it also recommends to clients. Consult with your financial advisor prior to making any changes to your portfolio. To contact Fagan Associates, call 518.279.1044.
— By Dennis & Christopher Fagan

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