Recently, I’ve been reading about “doing your part”. I heard something similar on a podcast. I’ve even come across it while reading about stoicism. Do your part is a pretty common saying that is often said, heard, or read. Do your part.
What stoicism teaches is that you can’t always control the outcome, but you can control your attitude and what you do. Do the things you can do, but don’t fret on the overall outcome. You did your part in whatever process, thing, or endeavor you participated in with your time. So be proud and content that the part you can control, you controlled.
An example of this was in our recent mid-term elections. Several ads were about doing your part to get out and vote. So, a lot of people got out and voted. Some may have voted for the candidate who was actually elected. Some may have voted for the candidate who wasn’t elected. However it played out for your candidate(s), you did your part and should be proud of that. You can control whether you voted or not. But you alone couldn’t control who won the election.
Another example is my nephew’s recent retirement from the Air Force Reserves. He did his part. He showed up every time he was called. He answered with a job well done. But I’m sure everything didn’t go as he planned. (I know my military career didn’t. I wanted different jobs, other promotions, and many other things.) So, I’m sure there were things in my nephew’s military career that didn’t go as planned either. But he did his part each and every time he was called. Whatever didn’t go as planned didn’t affect his attitude or cause him to quit. Subsequently, he was honored with a well-earned retirement ceremony after 20 years of service. He couldn’t control every step along the way, but he did his part and was rewarded.
Of course I was thinking about how this applies to personal finances and, believe me, it applies to personal finances very soundly. Personal finances can be controlled. I know, there’s a million reasons, excuses, explanations, or whatever that easily surface. But you must do your part. Perhaps you had hoped to contribute more to your 401K, IRA, Roth or savings account. Maybe you didn’t exactly reach a certain financial goal. Maybe your interest, dividend, or return didn’t meet your expectations.
The only thing that can really be controlled is what you contributed. Returns, interest, etc. can’t be controlled. Contribute what you can, when you can, and as much as you can towards your personal financial goals. Progress will never go exactly as planned. You can’t control exactly how all the other factors work out, but you can control what you contribute. Without contributions you’ll never meet your goal. Goals may be met far beyond your expectations or, they may be less than expected. That part can’t be controlled. If outcomes of investing could be controlled, there would be a heck of a lot more rich people in the world. So, do your part and contribute to your financial future.
What else can be done? Due diligence is what. Proper research and an education in financial matters can be controlled. A choice is made to either learn more about personal finances or watch TV, play video games, surf FB, or whatever other mind numbing tasks occupies your time. Do what you have to do and become well-educated on personal finances. Controlling your education can help you minimize your losses over time.
Whenever possible, do your part. Things won’t always work out exactly as planned but if you do your part you at least have a shot! If you don’t do your part, failure is guaranteed. Just DO YOUR PART.