A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” – English Proverb

Working with what we have now is more important than what we might have in the future.

Life is too short to be lived in conversations that are filled with ‘if only’, ‘should’ve’, ‘could’ve’ and ‘would have’. In financial or investing terms, as one of the most influential economists of the 20th century, Paul Samuelson said: “Investing should be more like watching paint dry or watching grass grow. If you want excitement, take $800 and go to Las Vegas.” 

It’s dangerous for our financial future when we start to speculate when we should be planning, and begin to second-guess when we should be sticking to our plan. When we focus on the birds in the bush, we speculate about what could be, and it may cost us the enjoyment and fulfilment of what is currently in our hand.

The world is full of bushes and birds – the distractions are everywhere, and they’ll keep us running around the meadow, sending birds flying and creating even more confusion. If we want to thrive and find a space where we can relax and enjoy what we have, we have to take our eyes off missed opportunities behind us, and the endless possibilities ahead of us, and focus on how far we’ve already come and all the successes that we’ve already achieved.

If we only think of investing as being like gambling, we’re thinking too small. What we gain over time is indeed exciting, but the work it takes requires patience and planning, and some more patience. It’s this patience that builds character. It’s this patience that helps us slow down to look at the bird in the hand, and not the two in the bush.

It also helps us remember that no investment is a sure thing. Howard Marks, tells the story of a gambler who bet all he had on a race with only one horse in it. A guaranteed win, surely? “Halfway around the track, the horse jumped over the fence and ran away. Invariably things can get worse than people expect.”  

We should aim to see the value of being content with what we have in order to find happiness. After all, happiness is not something we work towards in the future, it’s something we need to cultivate today.

People who work with financial advisers are more likely to feel happy and financially secure. At WellsFaber we believe that having a sound financial plan built on professional, personal advice will help you to thrive; to relax and enjoy every moment – right from day one.