Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, I attended 40 yoga classes. Having a class almost every other day made it a regular part of my routine. As a new entrant into my routine, it gave me some things to think about.
I am terrible at yoga. Not all of it, just the most important part. The very thing I struggle with in yoga is the very thing I spend all week counselling clients to be wary of! Let me explain.
Yoga, in my understanding, blends strength and flexibility of your body and your mind. A primary element of this is breathing, and it is usually the central challenge. Building strength and flexibility physically is obvious, but how you go about doing it with your mind is an entirely different challenge. The technique of breathing correctly allows you to take your mind from a state of anxiety to a state of calm. When we are anxious, we shorten our perspective, are confused by noise, and allow our state of events to control us. When we calm down, we lengthen our perspective, shut out the noise, and allow our state of being to center in on what is important.
It is this very challenge that people have when it comes to financial decisions. Too often, they act with an anxious mind, allowing short-term events to control their long-term decisions. What people need to do is get themselves to a calm mind, taking into account a broader perspective. You may feel that right now there is a lot in the news and around you that is making you anxious about your financial planning and investing decisions. Acting based on this anxiety rarely leads to the best decisions, and it is times like these you need to find your calm mind.
There are three ideas that I keep hearing from my yoga instructor.
First, the concept of impermanence. Second, is to “focus on YOUR mat.” Third, be happy meeting your objective, not someone else’s.
I believe that each of these ideas applies not only to physical exercise, but finances, relationships, and life in general.
Why do I think I am bad at yoga? Because I treat it like a sport. I go in looking to conquer the hour and every pose that is thrown at me. If I can’t get the pose now, I’m not happy. I am like the investor looking for short-term rewards all the time. My instructors tell me not to; someday, I’ll get it figured out. You, too?
Author: David Jeter, CFP® | Partner and Financial Advisor | Allegheny Financial Group | August 2018
Allegheny Financial Group is a Registered Investment Advisor. Securities offered through Allegheny Investments, LTD, a registered Broker/Dealer. Member FINRA/SIPC.