By Scott Gallacher, Director, Moneyfarm
We live in a world of immediate gratification; online shopping brings us next-day delivery at the click of a button and we can watch anything on-demand whenever we want. We’re a nation devoted to living for the moment rather than planning for the future. What’s needed is a balance between enjoying life’s immediate pleasures whilst ensuring there’s an adequate nest-egg for a safe financial future.
Why is planning for our future so difficult?
It can be a struggle for anyone to keep motivated when trying to achieve long-term goals, particularly when more immediate priorities come into play. Short-term plans such as losing weight, going on holiday, enjoying a meal out with friends or indulging in the latest fashion give us a break from cultural and societal pressures and should be enjoyed.
But thinking about financial wellbeing needs to take more of a priority so you can be ready for key life moments rather than trying not to think about it and being totally unprepared.
Converting good intentions to behaviour isn’t so easy
Even when there is a plan in place, only one in five women across the UK* say that nothing stops them from reaching their goal whether family, health or finance related. Ultimately, old habits die hard, and it’s our short-termist mindset that often prevents us having the headspace to plan six months, a yea, or even five years ahead.
A nation out of control
Women feel less financially prepared than men (39% compared to 26%) when it comes to planning ahead and a quarter (26.7%) confirmed that they do not usually plan more than six months in advance. It’s no surprise then that people who find it hard to fight against impulsive decisions feel out of control. More than a quarter (27%) of us don’t feel we govern our own lives most of the time and only one in ten feel totally in control.
Fiona Buckland, Life Coach says, “One of the things that we respond to is the feeling of control. When we feel in control, we feel safe and that’s a basic, primary emotional need that we have at all ages. We have it as children and until the day we die - the need to feel safe.”
Creating a balance
Changing our mindset is not easy. Over two thirds of Brits have a desire to change but don’t feel able - or haven’t yet tried (69%). Over half (55%) of Britons are kept awake at night thinking about future plans, with 64% of women affected compared to just over one third of men. Creating a balance between settling our short-term desire and easing our anxiety about being prepared for the long-term is the key.
Fiona comments, “We've kind of got this kind of cognitive popcorn that goes on. The main thing is to sit and just observe it, don't attach yourself to it. It's a form of what popularly is now called mindfulness. That really helps to reprogram our minds a little bit, as well as looking at the elements of nature and culture that connect us to something a little bit deeper and little bit more long term than the last tweet from a certain president, or the latest headline that happens in the newspaper.”
To enjoy life in the future just as much as you do today, follow these five simple steps from Behavioural Scientist Ivo Vlaev:
- Identify a long-term goal that you need and want to achieve
- Try to imagine the most positive outcome from this behaviour change
- Think about the biggest obstacles in your way of achieving this
- Create specific plans to achieve your goals
- Galvanise the social support around you. Use friends and the family to help you change your behaviour. Make a public commitment to them that this is your long-term wish and make them keep a watchful eye on your progress
* Moneyfarm Decodes: Short-Termism study, 2017
Tagged in future