For centuries, people have studied Shakespeare for his wit and his wisdom. For the past few months, I’ve been sharing some of that wisdom in a new series of letters called:
Shakespeare on Finance
Shakespeare never actually wrote about finance, of course. But I’ve found many of his lines contain important financial lessons. This month, let’s look at one such line from one his most famous plays:
“How poor are they that have not patience! What wound did ever heal but by degrees?”
The virtue of patience is one of the most underrated aspects of working toward your financial goals. To illustrate what I mean, imagine you’re recovering from a broken leg. While recuperating, you dream of the day your body will be healed and you can walk normally again.
How would you go about trying to make that day happen? Pop a couple aspirin and start playing hopscotch? Of course not. You’d get a cast on your leg. You’d take it easy for several weeks. Then, little by little, you’d gradually increase your activity level, giving your leg time to heal properly. You’d be patient. Antsy, maybe, but patient.
The same attitude is required when it comes to finances. After all, there’s a reason why the term “get rich quick” arouses so much suspicion. Building wealth and reaching your goals takes time. It takes planning. It takes meticulous attention to detail.
For example, here are three important steps to reaching your financial goals, all of which require patience.
1. Avoid impulsive investment decisions
Some investors, anxious to accumulate as much wealth as possible, will throw a lot of money at a “hot stock” or hop on board the latest trend. Others, fearful of even the idea of losing money, may sell investments too quickly at the first sign of trouble.
Both types of investors can be their own worst enemy.
Investing absolutely requires patience. That’s because successful investing is all about the long- term, not the short. Making rash decisions can often lead to losing your hard-earned wealth – or never being in a position to accumulate wealth at all.
2. Focus on What You Can Control
As you travel down the road that leads to your financial goals, there are a number of things you simply can’t control. Sickness, accidents, the economy – life can throw many imposing obstacles in your way.
Fortunately, there are many things you can control. How you react to obstacles, for instance. What kind of career you have. How hard you work. How much you save, how much you invest, how much you spend.
In other words, you’re in charge of the seeds you plant in life’s garden. Show some patience by giving them a chance to grow.
This often gets overlooked, but saving money isn’t just for kids hoping to buy a new bike. Saving money is about paying your future self. Think of all your future wants, needs, or goals, like buying a new car, going on a dream vacation, or helping your child pay for college. Saving money specifically for those purposes is a must. People who don’t save usually end up borrowing, which is as useful for building wealth as a leaky bucket is for collecting rainwater.
Saving, of course, takes time and patience. More than that, it takes discipline. The discipline to set money aside before you spend it.
But it’s one of the surest ways to reach your goals.
As you work to build wealth and reach your goals, always remember to exhibit patience. Patience in your financial plan. Patience in your investment strategy. Patience in yourself.
After all, “How poor are they that have not patience? What wound did ever heal but by degrees?”
In a future blog, I’ll conclude my Shakespeare on Finance series by examining a quote from the Bard’s most highly-regarded work of all: Hamlet.