Simple Is Hard Enough

We are all busy people

People deal with busy by reducing the workload and by completing tasks. Toronto psychologist Jordan Peterson has pointed out that stress is often the result of an accumulation of small undone tasks.

The key to stress reduction then becomes reducing the undone task list.

Pushing the task forward fails

It may get it off your desk for now, but it is in your mind and it is certainly on the undone task list. The key to solving the problem is to determine why it is undone and why you cannot finish it and put it away forever.

Or maybe decide it need not be done at all. 

Decisions and risk

Some people hate making decisions and doing things when

  1. They don’t know what to do
  2. They might be wrong. Fear of error
  3. There might be a better answer yet to be found. Fear of missing out.

Overcoming fear

Items 2) and 3) are straightforward to think about, but the cure is harder to implement. People overcome fear by doing things and learning from the outcomes. If you never make a decision you will learn very little. 

The first is the hardest. 

Designed in obstacles

Item 1) above is a problem when the situation has become more complex than is required. Some people think complexity is sophisticated. Others like a somewhat more costly, but simpler answer.

I know you think simple should be less expensive, but it seldom is. Simplicity is a great value and must be compensated. For example, you could run your own investment account.  Maintain proper diversification and hold appropriate liquidity. Be steely-eyed and disciplined about what you do and don’t do. Spend some time reporting for taxes and calculating the deposits that will become the accumulation needed for future use.

Probably the cost of the Prozac needed to keep you calm in volatile times is covered under your group benefits so is not really a cost at all.

Simple says pay an advisor and go play golf.

Complex is a trap

It begins when you pay more attention to tactics than to strategy. All tactics are complicated. Tactics keep changing. New laws, new products, new techniques.

Worse yet, complexity has more variables. More variables means more ways to analyze. More illusory patterns to see. More ore for data mining. 

Strategy is simpler.

Find who you are. Find what you want and when. Allocate resources. Find ways. Choose and implement. 

Strategy is effective because it shows you about tactics. Ideally provided by others. You just make the decision as to what and when.

Strategy is general and easily understood. Almost everyone has the same general goals. I want to be safe. I want to independent. I want to enjoy my lifestyle. I want my children to do well.

On the other hand, tactics are complicated, ever changing, and require monitoring.

The biggest planning mistake.

Start with a perfectly good tactic and bend your strategy to make it work for you. No tactic is trustworthy until it attaches to a well formed strategy. 

Reducing costs, like paying less for investment Fees, saves money tactically and has a strategic cost. Usually, you must do more yourself. It is not a rational hope to get something for nothing.

Do it yourself is complex. When you look at adding complexity to save cost, you are ignoring all of the solution’s other inputs. Money is only one element. Try to value time, skill, worry, flexibility, and ability to understand what you are doing. Understand that what you are doing should tie tightly to your simple strategy. Know how to find and assess the whole range of tactics. 

The simplest planning advantage.

Hire a guide.

Don Shaughnessy arranges life insurance for people who understand the value of a life insured estate. He can be reached at The Protectors Group, a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency in Peterborough, Ontario.  In previous careers, he has been a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business.

Please be in touch if I can help you.  866-285-7772

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One Response to Simple Is Hard Enough

  1. Tim Kim @ Tub of Cash says:

    Thanks for sharing! Great points. Half the battle is getting started. On most stuff, when there’s a ton in the not-yet-done list. It pays to just grit one’s teeth and plow through it. It also helps to get into a flow state where everything is just on point, but it’s tough to always be in this state. In today’s day, with all the interruptions from email, IM, phones, etc.

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