We can see change everywhere around us. Friend and family ties change, our homes and buildings need constant repair and upkeep, even the towns that we live in change due to population growth. As I look around at all this change, it is always the older items that catch my eye. I happen to live in a part of Massachusetts where there are numerous historical artifacts some of which are in good use. There are homes over 400 years old that still have families living in them, my daughters high school also has a large bell, and it was made by Paul Revere over two centuries ago. There are some key factors that play into why certain things stay relevant over hundreds of years and I think these are factors also apply to most things in life including people and finances.
As we go through life things are constantly changing and many of those changes will challenge our current way of thinking. The important part is to figure out which changes would have an insignificant impact vs. help you obtain the future you really want. Building a filter to sort out the noise is important otherwise we can get into a trap of constantly putting out fires vs. being pro-active and planning for the inevitable change.
Here are a few parts to a good filter system
- Be open: Understanding and accepting things will change; health, goals, perhaps even values. Having an open mind will allow you to more objectively look at your options and assess things more clearly.
- Emotions: Keeping emotion in check and having impulse control will be valuable to good decision making. You shouldn’t change things for the sake of change, so having clarity about why you are going to make a particular financial decision is important. Also understand if you are just satisfying a deep-seated fear or if the change really is numerically sound.
- The Big Picture: Will the change help you toward your big picture? Some changes only affect our current state and not the long view. While satisfying the now can be fun, most often, short term decisions don’t enhance our happiness over the course of our life.
- Perspective: seek viewpoints different from your own. There are things due to our own biases that we will not be able to see as it relates to our future. The help of people who have “been there and done that” as well as professionals who have coached others through the different phases of life can be invaluable.
So, how do old buildings fit into this? Within some of these old homes it is obvious that numerous changes were done over the years. As you walk through the home, rooms don’t seem to connect or flow and you are often left with thoughts like “why did they do that?” On the other hand, the best of these homes have design aspects that ignored fads of the past yet they were updated to reflect the technological times we live in today. They are comfortable and everything just seems to fit well together. The High School and the bell have a different story. Our town has grown over the years and we needed to build a larger school to accommodate the population. A large change was needed as far as the building was concerned, but the bell was put on display to preserve the values of the past. The best of these decisions all have a system to filter out the good and poor choices. Thinking about the long-term amongst all the current noise and changes allow a plan to develop that will work best.