Planning ahead involves more than money. Planning is about outcomes. People can let things happen, or take some actions to help guide what happens as well.
Are you Happy?
I think you could be Happier if you stopped comparing yourself to “perfect others,” those who you imagine are like you but better off. “Keeping up with the Joneses” is the old saying … except the Jones were trying to keep up with their imagined “perfect other” too … and the ever increasing illusion keeps on escalating. No … it’s better if you benchmark yourself against yourself … by that I mean that you know what you are trying to accomplish and track your progress against that personal benchmark. Much easier I think than to use your imagined benchmarks of what you think others are doing.
These two TED talks below may be applied to personal finance.
Blending both presentations: Balancing out how you spend (present), with how you save (future), helps your remembering self experience accomplishment. How? By evaluating where you are trying to get to and where you presently are on the way there … daily ups and downs are simply noise.
Happier by Tal Ben-Shahar of Harvard, is one of his many components of his very popular class (you may google his name for more about him). (If you search “Happier” on Amazon, you will find his more recent works as well).
I found this book to be enlightening as to how to approach life with a different perspective and become happier in the process.
You may not feel happy if you continue to spend, even though spending might help you feel happy in the moment (experiencing self). How the pay-period ends may give you the feeling of not enough money (remembering self), even though there was enough during the pay period. Thus there’s no feeling of accomplishment.
What you focus on is what you remember. You have two selfs – an experiencing self in this moment and a remembering self of what you remember to be your experience. Your remembering self keeps “score” and how an experience ends influences your memory more than the experience itself.
“We don’t choose between experiences, we choose between memories of experiences. Even when we think about the future, we don’t think of our future normally as experiences. We think of our future as anticipated memories.” (Daniel Kahneman)
Your focus … is it Past, Present, or Future?
If you think about how you view time it will impact what you focus on. The takeaway: Balance your focuses and you’ll be happier. It is all a state of mind and how you choose to remember things.