Overcoming inertia

Objects at rest tend to stay at rest and objects in motion continue in motion, unless acted on by outside forces.  In other words, inertia.  This physics principle also impacts on people in the psychological sphere.  We all have the momentum of our lives, the routines that keep us grounded and prevent us from being overwhelmed. Some are more rigid and structured while others are more spontaneous and unconventional.  Our rhythms also serve to reduce our stress as we push aside the extra elements that would complicate or overtax us when we can’t cope with new elements (i.e., decision fatigue). We are moving, following our routines, and possibly even accomplishing a lot, but at a constant state of motion, with no major changes.

However, as with most elements of our lives, there are times when we need to move out of our financial comfort zone. There are junctures where we need to make critical financial decisions to move forward rather than remain in the same place. Most of us will choose the path of least resistance, the current path, as we tend to assume that our present reality will remain the same in the future, but history has proven that that’s not always the case.

The past few highly traumatic months in Israel have definitely not encouraged people to go outside their comfort zones and make changes, and rightly so. But as the war continues and we have to adjust to a new reality that may continue much longer than a few more months, now might just be a good time to make a plan for your future as the current environment and your specific elements (your job prospects, housing needs, travel requirements etc.) may look different in the future.

How to move forward

There are a few simple steps involved in moving forward.

Ironically, the first one is to take a step back. Taking a step back will give you a new perspective which will help you evaluate your core values. Spend time thinking about what you want to accomplish financially and what is holding you back.

Write it down! Create concrete financial goals that can help focus your activity.  When we write/type things, they go into our subconscious. So even if we don’t refer to the actual note, the goal is there waiting to be achieved.

A couple of decades ago, one of my long-term goals was to write a book to help olim. Despite being very excited by the idea at the time, it got left by the wayside as I continued the rhythm of my life. A few years later I remembered that goal. But the difference was that I picked it up from that wayside and the result was my acclaimed bible for olim ‘A Financial Guide to Aliyah and Life in Israel’. And the rest, as they say, is history.

After drafting some goals or at least rough ideas of what is important to you financially, talk it out with anyone – a friend, spouse or even a professional or implementor.

You are not alone, most people have a hard time making decisions to move forward, but it can and must be done.

The momentum of financial markets

The same way that we need to understand that our personal situation is constantly changing (sometimes faster and sometimes slower), so too we need to view economic conditions and the financial markets. By definition, markets are unpredictable and volatile. Whereas they usually go up in the long-term, they do not go up in a straight line, even though the predictions are linear.

When the economy is thriving and growth is the order of the day, we assume that the good times will continue. People conveniently forget that recessions happen every 5-7 years, consistently.  We must factor in the blips, the busts that accompany the booms – all of which happen on a macro and micro level with countries’ economies and our individual financial plans.

The past few years, Israel has experienced a challenging market environment. Covid, the lack of unity, political uncertainty and the war have led to mediocre results in recent years in the local market, which hasn’t shown the same growth exhibited by the US market, for example. However, the situation that we are in will not necessarily stay the same. Economies go in cycles and we have to look ahead and tailor our financial plan to our short-, medium- and long-term goals. As Wayne Gretzky, the famous Canadian hockey player is quoted as saying, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been”.

Let us approach Purim and the Spring with new energy and foresight, and take the time now to align our priorities with our daily activities and habits.

With continued prayers for the safe return of our hostages, the safety of our soldiers in all their missions, and the security of our nation.