In America, we are raised on short-term thinking. All our lives, we’ve been told to buy now, satisfy our cravings, or to take advantage of a “limited time offer.” We have been taught that instant gratification is the norm—if you’re bored, you find entertainment. If you’re hungry, you eat.
Think about it—what do we really have to wait for anymore? With Amazon Prime, we can get packages delivered to our doorsteps in a couple days, or even a couple hours! We can stream movies on demand. We can utilize a service like Bite Squad to get meals delivered to our doors. Want to go out? Just summon an Uber or a Lyft.
With so much action and instant gratification in our worlds, is it any wonder that people are impatient when it comes to finances?
This short-term thinking isn’t necessarily a new phenomenon, but it does seem to be getting worse. For a long time, I’ve noticed that people use a relatively short frame of reference when they’re thinking about finances. They think about how the stock market is doing now. They think about how the real estate market is doing now. Rarely do people consider the long-term hills and valleys of financial markets. But that’s exactly what we should consider when it comes to finance.
It pays to think in the long-term. Literally. Take the stock market. Most successful investors are not twitchy—they don’t jump in and out of the market when they have a hunch or when they see a news story that tells them to buy now. Instead, they ride the ups and downs of the market, knowing that the long-term trend is sustained growth.
The same example can be applied to housing. When you think of your home as a several decades-long investment, it’s easier to muddle through housing market downturns or inflated prices. You’re not in a hurry to buy or sell—you simply recognize that the current state of affairs is only part of a long-term upward trend.
How do you step into this long-term state of mind?
1. Set goals for yourself
Set five, ten, and twenty year financial goals. Think big-picture, instead of worrying about the moment.
2. When you’re about to make a financial decision, step away
Give yourself some breathing room when you’re about to make a big financial decision. Spend some time thinking about your decision and consult a financial advisor before you do anything major.
3. Practice patience
Just like anything—cooking, baseball, painting—patience is an acquired skill. Try putting your patience to the test: Only watch ONE episode of a show on Netflix; attend a sports game and do NOT look at your phone; take a long hike in the woods or go camping WITHOUT checking your email or turning to technology for entertainment.
4. Consult an expert
Sometimes, you simply need to hear about long-term saving from a trusted expert. Sure, there are times when your financial advisor will urge you to move money around or sell some stocks, but many professionals are well aware of the long-term power of the market to steadily grow.
Good luck with developing your long-term thinking mindset and please reach out and contact me if you have any questions about YOUR personal investments.