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All Change Begins With You

Updated: Sep 16, 2021

Have you ever listened to people complain about various things; not having time to exercise, not having the will power to avoid junk food, their poor investment performance, their jobs or crappy bosses, climate change, the government, bla-bla-bla. It’s like a broken record sometimes. The media keeps reminding you how crappy the world really is, and it’s real easy to fall trap to this kind of victim thinking that just enables ones’ self to continue doing nothing because it’s all someone else’s fault or problem? Victimitus can drag you down and make positive change a steep hill to climb.

I feel like Michael Jackson’s song “Man in the Mirror” is a relatively accurate song describing the world today. If you want to be an agent of positive change, the first place you should look is in the mirror. It all begins with you.

The first step to any change is education. Pick up a book, search the internet, take a course, or talk to people. The wife and I decided in retirement to switch to a whole-food, no-oil, plant-based approach to eating. PS this is not a vegan rant or a preaching on how you should eat! We simply felt this was a healthier, more environmentally friendly, and more humane way of eating after researching it for many weeks. Our kids were strong influencers too. We wanted to make a difference in our health and the world and made this change two years ago. Since then we have become very comfortable and feel better eating this way. The world is slow catching up to consumer changes though, and we find it really tough to stick to our guns when dining out. Meat is easy enough to avoid, but restaurants inherently slip in dairy, oil, and the odd processed food in their menus so we really have to watch and ask questions.

The story in my taking over my investments in the later years of my career and managing them throughout my early retirement is very similar. I was unhappy with my returns, my fees, and my advisor. I studied, read up, joined financial BLOGS, and talked to people who were already doing it (EDUCATION!!). After a couple years of trial and error with an online brokerage, and comparing a low-fee, passive approach to a high-fee, active approach, I took everything over and fired my advisor. It was real scary at first, but it was also one of the best decisions we ever made. I have expedited our retirement, become more knowledgeable in our investments and finances, and I sleep very comfortably at night knowing the inner workings of our plan. I can predict with a high level of confidence and accuracy how my drawdown plan will play out over our life, and I don’t need any fancy analysis and vague charts from a high price advisor to do this for me. Not only that, I feel our plan has resilience and flexibility to all inflationary pressures, and all our expenses are well below our means.

If you don’t like your job, why do you stay? Or if you don’t like what you are doing, why do you keep doing it? Life is much too short to torture yourself, and all these things are changeable. But much like smoking (or any bad habit), I’ve found, the longer you do it the harder it is to quit or change. So when is the best time for change? Yesterday! And when is the second best time? Today!

People vote with their wallets in many cases. If you are an advocate for climate change, then drive an economical vehicle. Or better yet, walk and bike more. Move closer to your work, or work closer to where you live. There are lots of ways to change what you do, and the collective changes we make change the world. If you are complaining about jobs and money leaving your country, consciously spend your money on sovereign products and services? If you want to preserve agricultural land, eat more vegetables. The list goes on.

Micheal Jackson’s song “Man in the Mirror” goes much, much deeper than the changes I mention above, and is hugely relevent to the world and what is going on in it today.

Listen closely and watch the video. The song basically touches on the desensitization of the human race to world atrocities, both past and present; including marginalized and oppressed populations, racism, starvation, and senseless wars/conflicts. With the very recent and horrific discovery in Kamloops, BC of 215 indigenous children buried in unmarked graves at the residential school, this puts yet another spotlight on the need for cultural change. I’ve been reading, and my own ignorance of the colonization of Canada makes me feel ashamed, guilty, and sad.

This world has a lot of secrets and taboo topics and/or people who refuse to educate themselves, acknowledge, or speak about or against them. Those who fail to recognize past failures and history are destined for a repeat, or at very least... continue to advocate these wrongs through their lack of knowledge, silence, or desensitization.

Make the changes you want to see with yourself first!

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