Our 8 year old runs across the room in a manner akin to someone with their hair on fire. He’s screaming like he is being tortured. Why? We changed the layout of his 3 year old sister’s room. Many parent’s can probably identify with this scene. We have a genetic predisposition to prefer stability. But when you really sit down and think about it, change is usually good. It’s all about having the right change mindset. The view that change is opportunity.
Change Tends to be Beneficial
I am not going to lie to you, change can definitely be a bad thing. From the major health change, Covid event, or even the loss of a job. But statistically at least, most change does not come in the form of a catestrophic event. No, most change just sort of happens. And ultimately given standards of livings march ever upward, most of that change is beneficial.
Natural Change Mindset is Avoidance
And yet our first tendency is to resist it. You see this in adults as well as my 9 year old. The person who can’t adapt to changes in their work environment, the addition of new tools someone struggles to use, and even the change in environment/rules brought on by Covid. Some people literally run away screaming from those changes.
Embracing Change Leads to Better Outcomes
But here is the thing. That change may cause our lizard brain to freak. However, for the most part calmly approaching that change is the better approach. Often times embracing that change can lead to better outcomes, even outcomes exceeding the stable state. And yet so few of us embrace the change and dive into adapting.
Take our current situation with Covid. It’s obvious that change is here and has sped up. Ultimately certain areas of the workforce are going to thrive, and other professions are going to fall by the way side. I know it, you know it. In addition the way we all work in our given profession is going to change. Zoom and teleconferences are here to stay. We can either run scared from that notion of these changes. Or we can begin to attempt to figure out how to benefit from the change.
Taking Advantage of Change and a Positive Change Mindset
Most truly successful people, organizations, etc get ahead by taking advantage of some change as opportunity where others do not. You see it all over the place. From the real estate investor who bought after the Great Financial crisis, to the online entrepreneur who rode the migration to online, and even to the politicians who let no good crisis go to waste to push their position. So why can’t you do it?
Now don’t get me wrong. There is no way you can guarantee your adaption will make you a Billionaire. In fact you can’t even judge your adaption against those of someone else. But you can judge how much your adaption has improved your position versus where you would be if you made no change. Not making a change is after all a decision in of itself. If you embrace change and adaption, your odds of long term success are increased. That doesn’t mean every change is a good one. But it does mean that trying to take advantage of them is the best approach.
How I am Embracing a Positive Change Mindset
So what am I doing about our current environment in Covid where there is massive change, and yes, opportunity. Well first, I have been forthright that Covid is burning me out rapidly. I have also noted that I hit my financial independence number. No that doesn’t mean I am retiring. But it does mean I have decided I need to reassess my retire at 55 plan sometime in the near future. (I am not in the position to retire currently due to some regulations related to Foster care).
So the first change I am making is to begin to de risk some of my portfolio. For a long time I have stuck at 20% bonds. <link> I have begun to shift myself to 25% bonds in preparation for potentially nearing the end of the accumulation phase. Not a massive change, but enough that I could last about 9 years without selling stocks in the event of pulling the plug.
Watching Out for Inflation
A note, given the poor return of Bonds I am doing the above with an eye toward yields. I am leveraging both a stable value fund I have access to through work and I-Bonds to keep the yield higher then normal (the lowest yield is 1.6%) and to keep liquidity in case of inflation or financial need. I-Bonds allow sale after 1 year with only a 3 month penalty. I can cash out of my stable value fund at any time. Again adapting to the potential change in inflation everyone is predicting that may or may not happen. In this case I don’t even have to be sure on the future direction to benefit over something like a savings account.
Change Mindset Does Not Equal Market Timing
It’s important to note this change has nothing to do with riskiness of the market. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I do not believe one can predict when the market will next crash or if the crash will be below today’s price. As such from a market situation perspective I am doing nothing. But from a, I could decide in the next two years to pull the plug, or do something a bit more risky like work for a startup, I want to position my portfolio appropriately as a less risky backstop to enable those future choices.
What about on the career front? Well I worked from home long before Covid. My coworkers previously joked they see me about every 3 months. That is with the exception of business travel that I do a week or so a month during normal times. I expect post Covid my situation to return to high business travel and remote. So around the start of Covid I bought a travel trailer. Almost a year later it has arrived. I have taken steps to leverage remote work while I am in my current position. I also bought a niche trailer space, fiberglass, that is likely to hold it’s value better. Thus if I adapt wrong, I can always sell.
Finally on the skill set front, I am spending my time learning about some of the technology changes coming down the pike and how to adapt to them. From crypto currency to automation. Why? I realize if I don’t in the long run I will lose a job opportunity or be less optimal somewhere in my life because I failed to adapt to ease big industrial trends. I am doing so through digital learning and reading at the moment.
No that does not mean I am investing in Bitcoin. I stand by my thesis that there is no way to know which crypto coin is the future. But it does mean that I am paying close attention to the long term investing and business opportunities brought by these changes to society.
Are you preparing to adapt to change? Do you see the opportunity in change?
I liked the word you used to describe change: “opportunity”. Every time something at work changes (new boss, new role, new project) I always treat it as an opportunity. It’s uncomfortable at times but so far it has worked out for me. I started a new expanded role at work recently that brings with it all of the emotions related to change but I know it is a great opportunity that will allow me to learn and will open some doors for me down the road.
P.S. I have young kids too so I can 100% relate to your opening paragraph!
we’re in a similar change position especially regarding what we need from our portfolio. our asset number is probably big enough right now but i’ll keep working while it’s still pretty easy. we now have a combined 23-24% between fixed income (preferred stock etf’s) and cash. like you i have a large chunk in a stable value fund at work. that thing will yield close to 2% this year so much better than a savings account.
i’ve been considering moving even more towards fixed income when the next growth stock rally comes. i struggle deciding whether i want a target percentage of stocks or a target absolute number with the rest going to cash/fixed. anyhow, they’re pretty good problems to have for both of us. i think we’ve done ok.
Definitely first world questions. But I’m not surprised others are evaluating the same choices.
Change is almost always good otherwise you are stagnating.