How Mindfulness helped me be a Better Investor
I grew up in a lower middle income family in a then developing country, Singapore. What that meant was as soon as I could understand what money meant and what it could do and how we needed it, I sensed the underlying theme that my family didn’t always have enough. I remember a very clear incident when my mom and I went shopping for a new blanket for me. She picked up two and I liked the blue one but the red one was like 30 cents cheaper. Just slightly cheaper and she bought it. I remember trying to convince her to buy the blue one and this was purely because the blue one was more pretty in my then 8 year old eyes. She said it was more costly and that was that. I went home and cried and cried and my mother bless her heart, went back to the shop and exchanged the red blanket for the blue one. The lesson was etched into my brain; however that we cannot afford pretty things. Even now, I second-guess any purchase to the 50 cents and I realize that while this may make me a great saver it does not make me a good investor and ironically holds me back as an entrepreneur.
Understanding Return on Investment is key to understanding that for a certain price what you plan to get is a return on that investment that is as large as you can (this includes peace of mind and values-centric returns). My mother in a way knew that when she returned with the blue blanket, for 30 cents more she bought my happiness for a long time to come. For me, it means I have to take the objective view that for every extra $100 or $1000 or $10 000 what is the return I want to get and can I get that? Playing small may be the wrong way to go in this game as the ROI for a smaller amount might be a much smaller or even a percentage that is not worth the effort and time. This means putting less money does not mean you are a better investor, you could lose more in the future by being stingy now.
How does Mindfulness come in?
Each time I hesitate to spend more money, I need to breathe and learn to take a neutral stance. Rather than go with my overwhelming feelings of fear and lack I grew up with around money, I have to stay in the moment and look at the situation again. I have a lot of childhood neural wiring vis-à-vis money and the lack of it that I prevent myself from using it even though now I have enough to use, in fact, I have to invest in order to reach my long term plans.
I am a late investor no one in my family of origin spoke to me about it. I have asked them before and all of them were uncomfortable teaching or advising me because they were taking risks on their own money and did not have the confidence to let me learn from them. However this is another poor excuse because in the end that meant that I did little or nothing with my money when I could have earlier, I missed opportunities for compounding and early stock options. I cannot fault them as we all came from that lack and scarcity and fear models around money because we had so little of it growing up.
My parents barely did any money management because there was little money to manage. I am blessed. I have money to manage and now I have the mindfulness to manage it with the investment learning I have undertaken. Rather than leave my money in the hands of people who may have less to lose when it’s gone, I have chosen to use my wisdom and gut and learning to seek out my personal investment advisors and fund managers and also do my own retail investing and property investments.
This happened when?
Only in the last 2 years can I say I have my money mindfully managed and it was not the lack of resources or money or knowledge, it was simply my psychological fears that kept me back before.
I had invested before through financial advisors and insurance. But now I know my own money matters more because I look at them through objective calm and self aware eyes. I used to avoid my money issues and budgeting and keeping track of my funds. I still do that sometimes even now. However I breathe into that discomfort and plough on. I am planning for my future, Eyes Wide Open and Brain learning always, mindfully.
I pray you do too.