Addition by Subtraction

Back in the 90’s, there was a story, possibly apocryphal, about the the Philadelphia Phillies and their skilled but difficult outfielder, Lenny Dykstra.

On coming to the clubhouse one day, another player tells solid-citizen catcher Darren Dalton, “They traded Dykstra.”

His reply.  “Good trade, who did we get?”

Obviously addition by subtraction can work.  Make the whole better by eliminating some of the parts.

For most people life goals are pretty simple.

  • Establish a lifestyle and the means to maintain it.
  • Have predictability, certainty if you can get it.
  • Have a margin for error. (security)
  • Help others, especially family

They don’t always get those.  They get off track and do things and commit to things that delay or hurt achievement, or avoid things that would let it happen.  Misplaced resources.  Too many distractions.  No priorities.

Fix it by reducing the load.  If you hate your line of credit more than you love your condo in ski country, sell the condo and reduce the line of credit.

Not everything that hurts you is a big thing.  If you attach yourself to forty 5-pound anchors, you will drown at the same rate as if you attach yourself to one 200-pound anchor.

All planning is about allocating scarce resources.  Time and money usually.  Assess how you spend time and money.  Find all the 5-pound anchors and eliminate them.

You can make your life better by adding things you want to it or by subtracting things from it that you do not need.

But you must decide.  Failure to quit something is a decision to do nothing and it is just as much a decision as the decision to do something.  You should choose the one with the better cost / benefit ratio.

Addition by subtraction will solve more life plans easier and quicker than addition by addition.

Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international accounting firm and is presently with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario.

Follow on Twitter @DonShaughnessy

One Comment on “Addition by Subtraction

  1. Pingback: How To Catch A Monkey | moneyFYI

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