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4 min read

Be Warned: Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself!

Be Warned: Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself!

Money Energy Law #40:

Check yourself before you wreck yourself. Seek independent input before deciding.

This happens to be one of my favorite sayings…and it’s why it is the final Money Energy law.

Sound judgment is our ability to make wise and rational decisions based on careful evaluation of available information, considering both short-term and long-term consequences, and taking into account relevant factors and perspectives. There’s a direct quote I’d like to share from a whitepaper entitled Judgment and Decision-making Under Stress:1

“There is an assumption that the best decisions are rationally based on logic and factual information. As a result, researchers have tended to look at reason and emotion separately. A value has been placed on decisions made with reason: "it is careless but common to suggest that when we make bad decisions, they are based on emotion, but when we arrive at good decisions, they are based solely on reason" (Lazarus and Lazarus, 1994). Hammond posited that different situations demand different forms of cognitive activity, some calling for increased analytical cognition, and others calling for increased reliance on intuition.” 

I find this statement strikes a chord in terms of our independent aptitude to make sound decisions. We at DNA Behavior have seen many great futures taken off track because they rushed into a decision, took unwise advice, or failed to assess the facts appropriately.

Making good decisions depends on the “right” advice.

I’ve encountered clients throughout my career who argued that they did seek advice and claim to have spent hours researching a problem or a select number of choices before making a big decision in their lives. And, despite all the information and guidance received, they experienced a negative outcome. That can happen—but despite all the information and guidance they sought, individuals can still fall victim to cognitive biases, and they may include one or more of the following:

  • Confirmation Bias: That’s when you only focus on seeking out information that confirms a pre-existing belief or preference, while downplaying contradictory evidence.

  • Anchoring Bias: This is when you rely too heavily on the first piece of information or advice you come across. Any guidance you receive thereafter will be compared to that first tidbit that was revealed to you. It could also be a result of your tendency to rely solely on your past experiences (which cannot always predict future results even if you make the same decisions).

  • Overconfidence Bias: When seeking information or advice, especially from others, keep in mind that individuals may overestimate their understanding of the situation or the reliability of the quality of the research provided.

  • Sunk cost Fallacy: Maybe you did encounter contradictory information or advice, but perhaps you struggled to give up on the decision that you favored instinctually or that you already invested time and money exploring.

  • The Framing Effect: Perhaps you were influenced by the way information was presented to you and were thereby unable to evaluate your choices objectively.

You need to become aware of these behavioral risks and challenge assumptions, because life-changing decisions have a domino effect and can influence all your life energies—that includes your Money Energy and your ability to generate wealth. 

Caution: You might not only wreck yourself in the process.

David de Palma is a subscriber to DNA Behavior. He is 55 and his wife, Gloria, is 51. They have three children together. David's DNA Natural Behavior Discovery reveals he is an Initiator, which means he likes to take bold, aggressive actions and create rules. He prefers to lead decision-making and wants to set the agenda. David is goal-driven and makes decisions in a typically fast-paced and rational way, which also reflects his risk-seeking behavior.

David and Gloria were having that ever-challenging retirement discussion. David is keen to return to his Spanish roots in Spain. Although Gloria was born in the United States, she would welcome a retirement oversees and is envisioning the two of them living in a villa on the mountainside facing the ocean. To make their dream come true, they wanted to take their life savings and invest today so that they would be guaranteed their beautiful home tomorrow. The question is, do they have the money to make the retirement envisioned into a reality?

After reviewing their financial situation, David and Gloria came to the realization that money will be tight if they wish to live their retirement dream. In fact, based on a lifestyle-sustaining income, it would be unreasonable. However, David did not want to give up on their aspirations. So, he did some research online and asked for advice from close friends.

Many online articles reflected the infeasibility at this point and time. Several acquaintances expressed caution. However, after looking through countless articles, David found one that mentioned it was a worthwhile gamble and to not miss the opportunity. In addition, one of their friends framed the opportunity in a way that ignored the downside of such a decision. After reading this one article and hearing one of his close friends paint a rosy picture, that’s all it took to tempt David with his risk-seeking behavior to act, ignoring the other independent input.

While it would have been easy for him to take action at that point, David paused. Fortunately, from his revelations of his own behavioral style (thanks to the DNA Natural Behavior Discovery process), he knew it would be unwise to overlook the opposing facts. 

The couple chose to consult a certified financial advisor for assistance. Instead of taking all they had today and invest in real estate overseas, they diversified a portion of their portfolio into aggressive investments within acceptable risk tolerance, increased their contributions to 529 funds for their kids to reduce the future financial burden, and downsized their home when they moved out. In addition, they made a small investment into a profitable rental property in the U.S. and focused on other income-generating opportunities. David used his bi-lingual skills to teach Spanish on the side while Gloria, who happened to be musically talented, taught music lessons.

Fast-forward 15 years, and, if the couple had succumbed to confirmation bias, overconfidence bias, and the framing effect, we might envision David and Gloria having to sell the villa they once owned because of debt management issues and the expense of putting three children through college—especially if during that timeframe either one experienced a job loss or were impacted by a significant market downturn. Thankfully, he had acknowledged to himself and Gloria that depleting their savings and investments would impact their Money Energy potential.

Ultimately, David and his wife retired to Spain, and both enjoy part-time jobs at a local resort to supplement their income. Life is good, and they are happy and healthy. Good thing he checked himself before he wrecked himself!

What comes next after learning the 40 Laws of Money Energy? Stay tuned!

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1Kowalski, PhD., Kathleen M., and Vaught, PhD., Charles. Judgment and decision-making under stress: An overview for emergency managers. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2009.

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