Why comparison is the thief of joy when it comes to your finances (and everything else!)
Written by Trevor Keidan on May 08, 2018.
It was Theodore Roosevelt who first said ‘comparison is the thief of joy’ and it is a phrase which I often return to because it resonates in so many situations. I often see how comparing any aspect of life –job, home, family – with anyone else’s is a futile exercise and often a huge source of discontent.
A Jay Shetty video that has been doing the rounds on Facebook has made me reflect anew on this. If you are not familiar with Jay he is a former monk turned lifestyle guru and motivational speaker who describes himself as ‘one of the most viewed people on the internet internationally.’ You may well have seen his video which begins with a headmaster outlining to a group of 15 year olds how their lives will pan out. He tells them that they will sit their A levels, study at university, start their careers in five years time, get married, buy a house and that by the time they are 30 the course of their lives will be fixed. Jay then interrupts to contradict the speaker. He tells the kids that we all have our own personal clock and our own paths to follow pointing out that ‘Everything in life happens according to our time, our clock.’
I couldn’t agree more. There are many different ways to find success in life which is why comparing yourself to anyone else is not constructive. You may not have a degree and feel a failure next to your PHD qualified best friend. You may be happily single and childless in your thirties but feel pressure to ‘settle down’ and start a family as all your friends have done so. In truty, for both these scenarios neither option is more valid than the other, it is a question of what is right for each individual at any given time.
And so it is for financial planning. You may look at your neighbour who owns their own home outright while you are just about managing to pay the rent each month and wonder where you went wrong. The problem is that you are concentrating on the positive fact of their situation without any knowledge of the difficulties your neighbour faced to get there. Perhaps the hours worked to pay off the mortgage were the reason why your neighbour’s marriage broke down. Or perhaps your neighbour detests his job and struggles through every hour spent doing it. Is that something to envy?
When it comes to financial planning, comparison will get you nowhere. There will always be plenty of people better off with you, and also many many worse off. So quit the comparison and focus on what YOU need to achieve. You may be at the beginning of your financial planning journey and concentrating on paying off unsecured debts and establishing an emergency fund. Or you may be further along and already have savings plans in place for your retirement and your children’s education fund with the next step to determine how to best manage your estate to pass it on to your loved ones. The key is to focus on what you are trying to achieve and take concrete steps towards achieving it.
Financial planning is an intensely individual journey and that is why here at Infinity our financial planners take a highly personal approach. They start by taking new clients through an extremely detailed questionnaire in order to work out their financial planning priorities. They will also take time to work out a client’s attitude risk so that they can tailor a plan to it. There is no-size-fits-all solution – it will depend entirely on many different factors and Infinity prides itself on finding bespoke solutions for each and every client. Wherever you are at with your financial planning, we would be delighted to help you clarify your goals and the most effective way to achieve them. Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can work together to build your financial future.