Nice guys finish first. If you don’t know that, then you don’t know where the finish line is.
- Garry Shandling
I can’t say I understand more than the bare minimum about retirement savings accounts, but there’s one thing I do with my 403(b)—a non-profit’s version of a 401(k)—that can be applied to staying positive. And that’s rebalancing.
With your retirement account, that means adjusting your allocations periodically so they stay in line with your target. Say your ideal investment mix, based on your savings goal and time until retirement, is 50% stocks, 40% bonds and 10% money market. Without rebalancing, over time that mix will shift due to market fluctuations and you could end up with more risk than you intended.
Same goes for a positive attitude. It needs rebalancing periodically. We each have our own ideal mix of activities—physical, social, mental, spiritual—that we need to maintain a positive attitude. That balance can get thrown out of whack, especially this time of year, and you end up grumpy and stressed out and full of negative thoughts instead of holiday joy.
So how do you go about rebalancing your attitude? Don’t worry, it’s much simpler than managing your retirement investments. Just reallocate some time and energy to the types of activities that have been neglected in the holiday hubbub. The particular activity is up to you (I’ll give some examples in parentheses, but do whatever makes you feel refreshed and positive).
If holiday parties three days in a row leave you drained, have a quiet night at home on day four (read a book, try a new cookie recipe, go to bed early). If you have end-of-the-year deadlines and are putting in long hours at your computer, take a break and do something that uses your body instead of your brain (hit the gym, go for a walk and look at your neighbors’ Christmas decorations, play in the snow with your kids or dog). If gift buying feels dizzyingly materialistic, set aside time to renew your spirit (volunteer, sing your favorite carols, write in your prayer/gratitude journal).
See what I mean? A lot easier than investment management. And way more fun, too!
Amy Wong is the executive editor of Guideposts and was a founding editor of Positive Thinking. She lives in New York City with her adopted dog, Winky, a natural-born positive thinker who believes that everyone has a treat for her and every day is the best day of her life. Amy hopes to be that optimistic someday (she’s working on it!).