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Comparison Is the Thief of Joy

Photo of author, Drew Tardy, CLU®, ChFC®.
Drew Tardy, CLU®, ChFC®
Regional Manager and Financial Strategist

A couple weeks ago one Saturday afternoon, I was sitting in our living room watching TV. My 6-year-old daughter entered the room and announced that she was hungry and would like a snack. The two of us walked to the kitchen and we discussed what snacks might be appropriate.

She decided that a banana was the perfect choice, and she came back to the living room to eat her banana and watch TV with me. She could not have been more pleased with her banana. It was tasty and just what she needed for her snack.

As she was finishing her snack, my 9-year-old daughter then walked in eating a stack of Pringles potato chips that she had grabbed out of the pantry. Upon seeing this, my 6-year-old was no longer happy with her banana and was suddenly hungry again. She wanted her own stack of Pringles. The contentment or joy she felt with her banana was long gone as it didn’t compare to what her older sister was getting to eat.

How many times has that happened to each of us, but in other ways? You buy a new car, only to have a friend of yours drive up to meet you in a new, more expensive car. You go on a dream vacation, only to run into your neighbor who just returned from an even more luxurious trip. Or you set — and achieve — a new goal at the gym, only to see the people around you performing at a much higher level. For each of these scenarios, the joy or sense of accomplishment you felt initially is negatively impacted when you compare yourself to others.

Or how about this: Your investment portfolio had a great year, only to have your sibling tell you how much better his return was. Comparing your own financial plan to others can greatly diminish your own joy or satisfaction in your achievements.

Mastering your wealth isn’t about beating someone else’s returns. It’s important to recognize that no two financial strategies are alike. Another person’s financial plan is likely (and should be) built around completely different goals and objectives, and completely different risk tolerances and acceptance of volatility. Your financial plan should focus on whether you are able to achieve your needs, wants, and wishes. Bottom-line: Focus on those things that you can control —looking ahead as much as looking back.

“Are you managing your money in a way that is improving your life?” Mitch Anthony

In Mitch Anthony and Paul Armson’s book, “Life Centered Financial
Planning,” they discuss the importance of focusing on a return on life,
not your portfolio returns compared to a benchmark. The main question
they say they help people answer is, “Are you managing your money in a
way that is improving your life?”

Recently, McKinley Carter’s Director of Wealth Management Ty Phillipi, CFP® and Director of Advisory Services Brian Gongaware, CFP® hosted a webinar that focused on one’s return on life. I encourage you to click the link below to access the on-demand version of the webinar – it’s well worth your time.

On Demand Webinar Graphic
Click above to access the On Demand webinar.

As you think about your own situation, ask yourself if you are focusing on the right things. Take time to think about what matters to you, and if your money is being managed in a way that improves your life. Speak with a financial professional who can help you think through what you would like to accomplish and then help you navigate the best course of “smart actions” to do it. In the end, you may discover, just like my 6-year-old, that the banana was the right choice all along.

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