I posted a comment on my Facebook page and Twitter feed that “Hiring a financial planner is a lot like buying an avocado; you don’t know if you have a good one until you open it up.”
When you’re so looking forward to guacamole… to that fresh, smooth, green cumulus wonderfulness, and then you cut the avocado open and it’s brown already…boy, that’s a bad day. I know, first world problems, but still.
I don’t know how people develop trust in financial planners or other advisors, it seems a risky proposition to me, and I’m a financial planner. Even celebrities and famous athletes have trusted financial people with their money, only to be scammed. How is the average Joe or Jane supposed to manage? Hmmm.
And yet, the right (read: credentialed, compassionate, communicative) financial guide can mean the difference between success and something that is not success. It’s the difference between guacamole and compost.
My daughter and I had our 6 month dental cleaning and check-up the other day. For the first time in forever, the hygienist DID NOT ask if I floss regularly.
It seems you can never floss enough to please these people.
I do floss, as regularly as I deem “regular,” which is highly subjective. Don’t judge me.
I came to dread these check-ups – even if my teeth were fine – because I felt like the hygienist was always chiding me for not doing a good enough job …and it made me feel bad.
Some people believe you can change behavior through fear and exerting authority. I have not found this to be an effective means for behavioral change.
I have found it to be quite the opposite.
I almost cancelled my check-up to avoid this conversation, but then I’d really not be taking care of my teeth.
I think the financial media has beaten people over the head about saving for retirement the same way my hygienist beats me over the head about flossing. Has all of this improved people’s retirement savings? No.
Do you want to know WHY this hasn’t improved retirement savings? Because, to make a change for the “better,” people must acknowledge that what they chose to do before was for the “worse,” and we all want to believe that we’re good people who make good decisions. Changing means that we were wrong. That is a tough thing to admit.
Ever meet a former drug addict who has “found Jesus?” For some strange reason we diminish his or her spiritual direction to something smaller than someone who has always been a Christian.
We prefer leopards who DON’T change their spots because it makes it much easier to stereotype them, which allows us to confirm our thoughts about someone continually and feel quite self-righteous.
Part of scientist Steven Hawking’s brilliance is that he is willing to change his theories; and enjoy both the old theory as well as the new. It’s all part of the journey of life.
If regret tags along with our prior actions, then we’re really in a tizzy. I wonder how many older people have said, “I wish I would’ve taken better care of my teeth,” probably most. Regret is an expensive way to spend your precious life energy and it neither changes the past nor the present. Choosing different choices is the only thing that will change your future.
Furthermore, you must have a clear explanation of why you want things to change and create a time and place to do so. Don’t be fooled thinking that you can rely on willpower; it’s not the faithful friend we’d like to think it is.
In order to move forward, it is crucial that you accept that what you’ve done (aka not flossed, saved, exercised, etc.) has not served you well and choose to be merciful with yourself and make a different choice going forward.
Most importantly, you must believe that change is possible.
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