Don’t give in to relentless pessimism!

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I’m not sure if you’ve noticed this as well, but right now sentiment is a little bleak. As I write this, The Bank of England is predicting a recession by August. Energy bills are skyrocketing and most social media feeds are somewhere between predicting chaos and armageddon.

Surely, even the most steadfast of views, the most optimistic, must be feeling a little bit doubtful?

I started a little experiment to see how much of my waking hours were made up by some form of ‘news consumption.’ Here were my stats:

20 minutes — morning while trying to wake up drinking a coffee 🥱
15 minutes — lunch 🍴typically I’d either be flicking through the news on my phone while eating or have the news on in the background depending on where I’m working
⏰25 minutes — at least through various points across the day, whether it’s going to meetings and getting radio updates in between music. Or, on public transport trying to be productive but not immune to the barrage of notifications and ‘urgent’ news events.

That takes me up to a nice, round and highly generalised hour a day which I think, intentionally done or not, is probably about accurate. Reframed, that is 6.25% of normal waking hours devoted entirely to taking in current events. Over 15 whole days of the year to the ritual.

How unusual am I?

Ask yourself, if you totalled the cumulation of notifications, doom scrolling, time in between meetings, waking up in the morning or relaxing at night with it on in the background. Are you that different?

The problem with this is, well…..:

(Source — Guardian)

I am not suggesting we embark on the new dark ages and hide from our reality. I am just asking the question…

How much is too much?

The challenge with life is that simple heuristics don’t explain a complex world. All the below can be true at the same time depending on your mindset and where you look. To borrow from ‘Our World in Data:”

I believe the next 6 months to a year are going to be tough on all normal metrics. It’s not for me to predict the trajectory of Russia’s actions or other events entirely outside of our control. However, I think it’s safe to be mindful that when October rolls around and energy prices spike, perhaps Russia threaten or cut off gas to Europe. The news will inevitably be a bit bleak.

The pragmatism of optimism

We must be stoic to the reality that you do not exist as an economic forecast. We can only control our own individual situations and do what we can for others. We cannot influence global events and we shouldn’t pretend we can try. We can however control our mindset when faced with this. It is important to recognise that human history is, after all, a story of overcoming impossible odds. If you want to see the odds of you existing, follow this link.

On a wider scale, we don’t have to look back far to see evidence of overcoming odds most would predict would cause catastrophe. Like perhaps, when we put pulled the entire global economy off the rails for a few months as we did in March 2020. History really is, one damn thing after another.

I have no doubt that the next 30/40 years are going to be littered with crises and events which feel like the end of the world.

I also believe that people are incredibly resilient and resourceful if they are required to be. After all, our times of greatest challenges often spur our greatest innovations. Invention and development of radar, computers and penicillin all were innovations born out of conflict.

Good financial management cannot stop life from being challenging but health and wealth are the 2 elements that nobody can ‘opt out’ of. So it is reasoned to think about making sure each element is as good as it can be.

What separates those who are financially successful from the failed investors — is their ability to stay in their seats when things get scary. The market has always ‘climbed a wall of worry.’

It may be controversial, it may be counter-cultural, but the big picture is things really are better than they have ever been.

Stick to the plan. Stay in your seat.

To your financial future

(Source — Our World in Data)