The man told me he wanted to begin investing. He realized if he never invested his money, it could never grow. And if his money never grew, he’d never get to retire…at least not to the lifestyle to which he was accustomed. Ideally, the man said, he wanted the long-term growth available only in the financial markets.
The problem? The incoming president was a liberal, he said. And a liberal president meant more government spending, larger government debt, greater government regulation and increasing government involvement in his life. None of that could be good for the financial markets, he explained to me.
“It’s just not the right time,” he concluded. “I’m going to let the market settle down.”
So, like any rational person, the man waited. And waited. And waited.
I lost track of that fellow a long time ago. The incoming president that gave him so much pause was Bill Clinton. On the first day of Clinton’s presidency, the Dow Jones Industrial Average stood at about 3,200. By the end of Clinton’s two terms the Dow was hovering around 16,000. As of this writing, it is somewhere north of 30,000.
People wait a long time for perfect.
But there is a cost to waiting. That’s a truth many people miss.
Some of us are waiting for “things to get better” before we fully engage at our place of employment. We tell ourselves we’re waiting for COVID to end, for a certain position to open up, a bad boss to retire, a raise to be given or an opportunity to emerge. Until then we’re just going to play it safe. Avoid taking chances. Coast.
How about those career dreams that call for taking a risk and stepping out? Sure thing. One day. But not today. The time isn’t quite right.
And financially speaking? Many are like my skittish friend from the Clinton years, waiting on a “more stable” stock market, a political climate more to our liking or an economic outlook with fewer clouds on the horizon.
Those who wait for perfection usually wait a long time. And rarely do they get what they waited for.
To be sure, some things really do require perfection…Surgery. Manned space flight. Rachmaninoff’s third piano concerto.
But to play Rachmaninoff that concert pianist had to begin with Chop Sticks. That brave astronaut had to take her first flying lesson. That brilliant neurosurgeon endured the first day of medical school.
Perfection is like the horizon…always before us, But always out of reach. Put in the right perspective, perfection offers a wonderful destination to shoot for. But as a starting point, it’s paralyzing.
What are you putting off because you can’t do it perfectly now? Initiating a new relationship? Investing? Exploring a new career? Taking up a new hobby, skill or avocation? Getting out of debt? Starting your own business? Making a financial plan?
Perfect is the enemy of progress.
Perfect never comes, but progress can start now.
I’m sure a strong challenge like this one raises all sorts of questions for you. If so, I’d love to help by sending you my new, free e-book. It’s titled The Three Financial Questions You Should Be Asking for 2021, and if you email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, I’ll send you a free copy.
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