Friday, August 13, 2021

Short Takes: In Praise of Small Steps

I’m not against having grand plans, but I’ve often seen them get in the way of real progress.  I recall a family member telling me about grand plans to organize his many piles of papers strewn throughout his house and eventually write a book.  I asked “would you like me to help sort this one pile of out-of-order papers right here?”  The answer was “No, no, not right now.”  A friend and I were looking in one of his closets one time, and he told me about plans to sort through everything in his overstuffed house.  As he reached to set down an item he had already declared to be garbage, I asked if he wanted me to throw it out.  The answer: “No, that’s fine.  I’m going to do it all together one day.”  

Waiting for a magical day in the future when you’ll want to do what you don’t want to do today isn’t a great formula for success.  I do better completing tasks in small steps.  My wife and I just got rid of some old paint cans.  We could have just talked about grand plans to clean up every part of the house, but instead we just cleaned up a small part and went back to lazing around.  It’s true that big projects like writing a book require spending some time thinking about the whole project, but it still has to be completed in many small steps.  It’s better to just do one of the small steps than procrastinate by convincing yourself you’ll do a lot of work some other day.

Here are some short takes and some weekend reading:

Morgan Housel makes some excellent points about how when we see others appear to make mistakes, it’s often our own lack of information that leads us to make this judgement.  In my experience, the missing information is often the other person’s motives.  If you have the wrong idea about another person’s goals, it’s easy to decide that their actions are mistakes.

John Robertson reflects on his decision a decade ago to rent instead of buy a home in Toronto.  One result of his analysis that would surprise many people is that someone who paid cash for a house in Toronto 10 years ago would have been better off renting and investing the cash in stocks.  It’s only when we consider a leveraged house purchase (i.e., with a mortgage) to an unleveraged stock investment that buying a home would have beat renting.

Robb Engen at Boomer and Echo reviews The Boomers Retire, written by David Field and Alexandra Macqueen.  The authors describe their book as a retirement resource rather than a novel, and they sought to make it as broadly useful as possible.

Big Cajun Man says that when it comes to speculation, never is better than being late.

1 comment:

  1. Being late to the party when it comes to the latest financial thing, is just a bad idea. Sometimes being early isn't that hot either. Thanks for the mention