What Pain Can Do for Us

I had hip surgery last week. Man, did that ever hurt!

Beforehand, I researched the procedure, the surgeon, the health facility, and the outcomes of others who’d had the same surgery. 

What I didn’t focus on is the grueling rehab patients have to do after surgery. I didn’t think to ask, “How much pain will I experience?”

Whew! Let me tell you—it’s a lot!

But even with this greater-than-expected pain, I know I made the right decision. If I had it to do all over again, I would do it all over again.

That’s because I know that getting to a better place often involves enduring some pain. 

Sometimes good things come our way without any distress or effort on our part. But usually, the outcomes we want in life require us to take a risk or experience some measure of sacrifice or brief discomfort. 

The character qualities that we so admire in our heroes—discipline, endurance, perseverance, and persistence—are typically forged in the fire of life’s pain. 

It’s counterintuitive, but pain can actually lead to progress.

Every day I see this truth played out in the financial realm. Here are three examples: 

1. Entrepreneurial pain. Can a business risk lead to personal satisfaction and financial wealth? Yes.

In fact, hundreds of “experts” are on YouTube right now, sharing their “secrets” for your entrepreneurial success. “No money down. Passive income. Sit back and sip piña coladas while you watch your bank account grow.” (Spoiler alert: Most of these self-proclaimed “experts” are full of bologna.)

Do you want to be a successful entrepreneur? Awesome! Just know it will likely be a bumpy ride. Be prepared to endure some pain along that path.

2. Investing pain. If you don’t become an entrepreneur, but you do want to experience financial freedom, you’ll need to participate in the financial markets. And in recent weeks the U.S. markets have plunged into so-called “bear” territory—usually defined as falling 20% off their previous high. 

I don’t have to tell anyone that watching your $500,000 401(k) drop to $400,000 in value over a two-month period is painful. Really painful.

But the pain of a bear market is similar to the pain a lush garden endures on a regular basis. The process is called pruning. The master gardener cuts back her garden now, so it will grow more in the next season. Bear markets are the markets’ way of pruning themselves.

While it isn’t fun, enduring the pain of an occasional bear market is the cost of enjoying all the upside of the market. 

3. Discipline pain. If you want to be financially free tomorrow, you have to exercise self-denial today. Here’s what such discipline looks like:  A man says “no!” to spending all his earnings in order to save at least 10% of each paycheck. A woman refuses to take on more debt today so she can be debt-free tomorrow. 

Do you see how the temporary pain of self-denial can be the pathway to long-term financial freedom?

As I type these words, I am looking at my crutches. I actually have less mobility now than I had immediately before the surgery. And I am still solidly in the pain phase of my hip journey. 

But I trust my doctors. I believe in this procedure. And I have faith in the wonderful way God designed the human body to heal over time. 

I had hip surgery because I was no longer able to walk, run, play, and exercise as I wanted. I remain hopeful that this procedure will help me get there in a few months.

Meanwhile, I need to remember “this pain is helping me get me to the life I want.”

If you’re at a place where you’re willing to endure a little pain for a lot of progress, I’ve got a book for you. I wrote an e-book a while back called “Why a ‘Nest Egg’ Isn’t Enough.” It’s free if you’d like a copy. Email me at bmoore@argentadvisors.com, and I’ll send it to you right away.

Argent Advisors, Inc. is an SEC-registered investment adviser. A copy of our current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees is available upon request. Please See Important Disclosure Information here.

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