Lessons from 2015

2015

I love learning new things and every year I pick up a few things that are key to success in work and in life. Here are 10 things that I learned in 2015.

  1. Delegation

I have always believed in the power of delegating tasks to better qualified people, which may be staff in the office or other service professionals.  While this has worked for me in business it has also worked for me in life. By paying a professional to paint my house, for example, it frees up my time to do more of the things that a) make me money and/or b) I enjoy more.  What I learned in 2015 is that you can and should delegate tasks but you can never delegate the ultimate responsibility.  That might mean that you need to invest a small amount of time gaining a greater understanding of what the professional is doing to enable you to verify that what they are doing is best for you and your needs.

  1. Procrastination

Everyone needs Financial Planning but that comes in different forms for different people. Financial Planning to me is a structured approach to achieving your goals, starting with a clear budget, set and measurable goals for the short, medium and long term, debt, savings and investments set up to facilitate the achievement of those goals and insurance to protect against the worst outcomes. Some people can and will do it themselves. Some people don’t know how to do it themselves and others would prefer not to do it themselves (see Delegation). So what is holding people back from either doing it themselves or hiring a professional to do it for them. The unknown factor breeds procrastination. I recently spoke to someone about the importance of planning for retirement and her response was “no thanks, it’s too hard”. The complex nature of retirement drove her to procrastinate and anything that we don’t know or don’t understand is complex so we tend to avoid it.

  1. Future planning

As a financial planner working with a range of different people over the years I have often felt that I care more about people’s futures than they do. I have subsequently done a lot of research on why people do the things they do in the context of money and spending. I have learned that most people have trouble seeing and planning further than a year in advance. We will often put off saving for something that we desperately want and can have in four years to buy something we kind of want but can have today.  That is why it is so important for people to set their short, medium and long term goals so that they know what they are sacrificing tomorrow for what they are buying today and/or work with a financial planner who can see your future and will help you stay on track to achieve it. People need to make a choice between living for today and saving for tomorrow and just like a balanced diet, a good financial plan will incorporate a combination of both.

  1. Some people just want something for nothing

As a general rule, people are willing to pay for something they cannot or do not want to do themselves. I have always believed, based on personal experience as a consumer, that people won’t question the fee if they see the value in what you are doing for them, however there is still that 1% of people that see the value but still don’t want to pay for it. I can certainly understand where they are coming from but unfortunately I probably can’t help them.

  1. One person’s home/life is another person’s oasis/holiday

I recently spent the weekend at the home of one of my family members. It is a largish property in a small town in country Victoria. It was like a resort holiday. I did my morning workout at the front of the house with no noise apart from the sound of the birds and the wind in the trees. I ate breakfast on the front patio and walked around the property enjoying the peace and quiet and wondering if the owners of the house knew how lucky they were.  The unfortunate reality is that they do know but they don’t have as much time as I did to just enjoy it because of the busyness of everyday life. I learned that it is important to stop and appreciate what is yours once in a while and stop thinking about all the things you don’t have.

  1. True friends

On a recent New Zealand holiday I met up with a friend that I hadn’t seen in 25 years and we chatted and connected again as if no time had passed. Whatever had connected us when we were 12 could still connect us today. I think that might just be the definition of a true friend.

  1. Best friends

One of the worst lessons that I have learned as an adult is that life is busy and there never seems to be enough time to spend with family, let alone friends.  I have always believed that true friends can go long periods of time without speaking or seeing each other and still pick up where they left off, like no time has passed.  I am lucky enough to have a few special people like this in my life, but my BEST friend never lets me go for too long without seeing her or speaking to her.  Everyone needs at least one BEST friend.

  1. Personality traits

I think I have finally reached an age where I can accept that everyone is different and that is ok. That realisation comes from certain personality traits of my own that I always thought were abnormal (I have been assured that they are not, but I will let you be the judge).  What I have realised is that with each personality trait there is good and bad attributes and that understanding what the bad attributes are and learning life skills to handle them better is the key to success in life.  I am very organised, I work well with lists and I am very efficient and very productive. This means that I am always on time and like to plan where I am going out for dinner in advance.  It also means that I am not good with people that are consistently late nor do I like it when plans change at the last minute, but I know those things about myself and having ways to cope with them if they happen. It also helps to recognise and work with other people’s good and bad personality traits as often different means complimentary.  I used to find it strange when I disliked a song and realised that one of my closest friend loved it.

  1. Lego

You are never too old to enjoy Lego.

  1. Focus

In order to get focus, you must have clear goals, strategic plans and live your passions. These are the cornerstone to good health, sound sleep, clear thinking and ultimate happiness.

What did you learn in 2015?