Know Which Hat You’re Wearing

Good Morning Relaxing Retirement Member,

During periods of turmoil and above average volatility (liked we’ve experienced recently), I’ve noticed a very distinctive habit that all successful retirees have formed.

That habit is making a clear distinction between which “hat” they’re wearing, and properly managing their state to match it.

Let me give you an analogy first.

In life, we all wear many hats.  For example, a few of them for me are:

  • Father
  • Husband
  • Business
  • Advisor – Coach
  • Brother
  • Son
  • Friend
  • Youth Sports Coach

To be effective, each of these roles requires me to have a certain mindset.  However, the correct mindset for one is unlikely to be the correct mindset for another.

For example, if I’ve been intimately engaged at the office all day, I had to have my business and/or advisor-coach “hat” on in order to be effective.

And, that requires a certain state of mind.

However, when I’m home with Caroline and Michael on a Saturday, for example, in order for me to be the father I want to be, I need to have my “father” hat on.

If I still have my “business hat” on when I’m home with them, how effective am I going to be?

For reasons that I’m certain you can visualize, it’s going to be a disaster!

How Does This Apply to You?

Let’s now carry that same analogy forward to another example.

In life, due to our experiences, education, and interactions, we all develop our own unique set of belief systems.  And, over time, those belief systems morph into our own personal philosophies which, in turn, govern the way we feel about and the way we react to various situations.

As a current example, each of us has a belief system about justice and the way things “ought to be” when it comes to the role government and business in our lives.

Let’s label this your “justice consciousness” hat!

As such, when we sit back and witness the collapse of the financial markets in 2008 or the current debt ceiling crisis with our “justice consciousness” hat on, each of us has beliefs about what’s wrong, who’s to blame, and how it should be fixed.

Some more strongly than others.

At the same time, each of us has developed an “investor” hat.  Hopefully, that’s based on a very specific, rational, long term methodology like we use in our Relaxing Retirement Coaching Program™.

And, in order to be effective, you wear that “investor” hat, and the proper mindset that comes with it, when making investment decisions.

When Things Get Ugly

Now, here’s distinction…..

When things are good financially, i.e. no big crisis going on, cash flow is good, and markets are moving in a positive direction, it’s easier to make the distinction between which hat you should wear to be effective at which time.

It’s easy to be rational and look at the big, long term picture.

However, when things get ugly, i.e. a crisis brews, markets turn sideways, the media outlets pile it on thick, and our reptilian ‘fight or flight’ mechanism flares up,  it becomes much harder to draw the line as to which hat we should wear.

The result during times like this is an inability to distinguish between which hat we’re wearing, and with it, the inability to be effective in any area of our lives.

For example, if a crisis of some level ensues and you’re watching wall to wall coverage on television, it’s highly likely that your “justice consciousness” hat is on your head.

That’s normal and perfectly effective for the moment.

However, it becomes dangerously ineffective when all of the emotions and fight or flight triggers that come with it are carried over to your investment decisions.

And, that’s what happens to the overwhelming majority of retirees.

Everything’s fine while markets move in a positive direction.  However, when markets correct and move the other way (as they’ve always done and always will at points in the future), their rational, educated, long term “investor” hat gets thrown out the window.

In contrast, the retirees who achieve the best results are those who make a very clear distinction between the two and are very conscious as to which hat they’re wearing at all times.

This allows them to make consistent, disciplined, and effective decisions that are in line with their carefully drawn out plans.

The Strategy

So, the Strategy is to be very aware and conscious of which hat you’re wearing at all times.

There’s nothing wrong with wearing any of them.  The challenges come when you mix hats, or wear the wrong hat for the wrong situation.

Committed To Your Relaxing Retirement,

Jack Phelps

The Retirement Coach

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