Each year, Veterans Day allows us to show our respect for the sacrifices that military veterans have made for our country. But have you ever stopped to think about what lessons our veterans can teach us about how we conduct various aspects of our lives? For example, consider the following traits and how they might apply to your actions as an investor:
- Perseverance. Even veterans who have not served in armed combat have had to persevere in challenging situations. The military life is not an easy one, as it often involves frequent moves, living in foreign countries, time away from loved ones, and so on. As an investor, in what ways do you need to show perseverance? For one thing, you’ll need to stick it out even in the face of volatile markets and short-term losses. And you’ll need the discipline to make investing a top priority throughout your life, even with all the other financial demands you face.
- Willingness to learn and adapt. During the course of their service, military veterans frequently need to learn new skills for their deployments. Furthermore, living as they often do in foreign countries, they must adapt to new cultures and customs. When you invest, you’re learning new things, not only about changes in the economic environment and new investment opportunities, but also about yourself—your risk tolerance, your investment preferences, and your views about your ideal retirement lifestyle. Your ability to learn new investment behaviors and to adapt to changing circumstances can help determine your long-term success.
- Awareness of the “big picture”. All members of the military know that their individual duties, while perhaps highly specific, are nonetheless part of a much bigger picture— the security of their country. When you make an investment decision, it might seem relatively minor, but each move you make should contribute to your larger goals—college for your children (or grandchildren), a comfortable retirement, a legacy for your family or any other objective. And if you can keep in mind that your actions are all designed to help you meet these types of goals, you will find it easier to stay focused on your long-term investment strategy and not overreact to negative events, such as market downturns.
- Sense of duty. It goes without saying that veterans and military personnel have felt, and still feel, a sense of duty. As an investor, you are trying to meet some personal goals, such as an enjoyable retirement lifestyle, but you, too, are acting with a sense of duty in some ways, because you’re also investing to help your family. There are the obvious goals, like sending children to college or helping them start a business, but you’re also making their lives easier by maintaining your financial independence throughout your life, freeing them of potential financial burdens. This can be seen quite clearly when you take steps, such as purchasing long-term care insurance, to protect yourself from the potentially catastrophic costs of an extended nursing home stay.
Military veterans have a lot to teach us in many activities of life—and investing is one of them. So, on Veterans Day, do what you can to honor our veterans and follow their behaviors as you chart your own financial future.