Hello and welcome back to Mortgage Advisor on F.I.R.E. This week I will talk a little about process vs outcome, and look at my 2020 reading challenge. First, the quote of the week.
Quote of the Week
If you ask most people whether anger is a positive or negative emotion, I would suggest most people immediately think of it as a negative emotion. It can make people bitter and resentful, and if they are strong with The Force it can lead them to the Dark Side. I’m starting to think that labelling emotions as either positive or negative is as simplistic as saying certain words are good or bad. Words, like emotions, don’t have value; they are tools that a person can wield to achieve an outcome. Regular readers will remember that I have referred back to Viktor Frankl who argued, “between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our happiness.”
Anger does not always have to be destructive. It can be constructive. Anger can be a source of motivation and drive. It’s all about how the emotion is used and how it’s focused. The power of anger lies not in the emotion itself but in terms of our response. I read an interesting response to this quote on Reddit where a user stated that hate can be a powerful driving force because it’s easy to sustain. Acting out of love may not be fueled for long as love needs two people to maintain the feeling. Hate, however, requires only one person to feel the emotion and that feeling of hate can be the driving force for self-improvement. It might seem counterintuitive to argue that hate can be a positive thing, but again it’s not that hate itself is positive as it is all about the response to the feeling.
I’m not yet back at work. I’m finding it difficult to do much of anything right now, or to be more precise, anything that requires thought. I’m able to go for a daily walk and I’m still going to the gym. Anything that requires thought, such as studying or reading, and even writing this blog, is a real challenge for me right now. I’m not even close to being in the right mindset for a mentally demanding job. Sleep is difficult to achieve and maintain for me at the moment, which is making me feel drained a lot of the time. I’ve also had my dosage of antidepressants increased from 50mg to 100mg per day.
Due to the fact I’m not really doing much, there is not a great deal to say about my week. I’m walking. I’m working out where I can. I’m listening to audiobooks a lot because it’s less demanding than reading a physical book or ebook. I need to keep doing the right things, such as exercising and eating well, and then in time the meds should start helping.
I had an interesting conversation with a friend the other day about therapy, as they’ve had a really positive experience with it. Since I’ve become more open about my own mental health struggles, a lot of friends and acquaintances have contacted me privately to talk about their own experiences with therapy. From all those people, only two have found it useful and positive. I don’t just need someone to talk to; I have people I can talk to and vent to if needed. What I need is more practical, long-term tools and skills to help cope with my anxiety, stress, depression and anger. The thing is, I just don’t have the mental energy to look for a new therapist right now and to then go through my whole story and situation once more.
2020 Reading Challenge Update
I’m way behind on my reading challenge this year. 2020 has been an absolute clusterfuck for me in terms of my personal life, and my physical and mental health. As a result, I’ve not read anything like as much as I did in 2019 where I finished 104 books. To date, I’ve finished 43 books in 2020. In July, August and September I have finished nine books;
35. Rejoice: A Knife To The Heart by Steven Erikson ****
36. The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu *****
37. The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu *****
38. Death’s End by Cixin Liu *****
39. Recursion by Blake Crouch **
40. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury ***
41. The State of Affairs by Esther Perel *****
42. The Wandering Earth by Cixin Liu *****
43. Neurotribes by Steven Silberman *****
The highlight of this last quarter was the Three Body Trilogy by Cixin Liu. One positive to come from 2020 is the amount of excellent science-fiction I’ve read. Those who know me well are probably sick of me banging on about how great The Expanse is but the Three Body trilogy of books blew me away. It’s China-centric, which is refreshing as a Western reader, but it’s also just a brilliant story with well-developed, complex characters. The trilogy deals with humanity’s first contact with an alien race, but I can’t say much more than that without spoiling the story. A few weeks ago, news broke that the trilogy is being adapted for television by David Benioff and DB Weiss, who brought Game of Thrones to the small screen. Although I’m a huge fan of the trilogy, the author is the focus of some criticism for being a supporter of the Chinese government’s building of internment camps in the Xinjiang region. I don’t claim to know much about this as I don’t follow Chinese internal politics. However, it does raise the old argument about whether art can be enjoyed if the artist has questionable beliefs.
Another week where I’ve gained weight, despite lots of walking and visits to the gym. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, it all comes down to diet. Weight loss is overwhelmingly down to diet. Exercise is great for general health, but you can’t exercise away a bad diet. For example, an hour of lifting weights (depending on your body composition and intensity of workout) will burn anywhere from 100-300 calories. However, a grande latte from Starbucks contains 190 calories. If you add a muffin to that, you’re looking at a total of approximately 600 calories. It’s so much easier to consume calories than to burn calories. The vast majority of your calorie consumption comes from your basal metabolic rate (BMR), which is the amount of calories your body burns at rest. My BMR, depending on which calculator I use, is anywhere from 2,100 to 2,200 calories per day. So, as I mentioned before, it’s difficult to exercise away a bad diet when a couple of chocolate digestives provide the calorie content to fuel an intense gym session.
Premium Bonds: £20,700 (no change from last update).
Stocks and Shares ISA: £12,994.57 (up £595.57 from last update).
Fuck It Fund: £0.00 (no change from last update).
Property Value: £187,554 (no change from last update).
Total Assets: £221,248.57 (up £595.57 from last update).
Credit Card: £513.61 (down £21.39 from last update).
Residential Mortgage: £142,456.43 (no change from last update).
Total Debts: £142,970.04 (down £21.39 from last update).
Total Wealth Figure: £78,278.53 (up £616.96 from last update).
Investment Income in 2020: £161.36 (no change from last update) (target £2,000).
The stock market has shown more improvement in the past week, which has helped take my total wealth figure to the highest it has been since I started this blog. The £80,000 mark is looming closer and I would love to pass that figure by the end of the year. I doubt I will though, as when my BTL purchase completes some of my funds will disappear on legal fees and stamp duty. If we see a sustained period of stock market growth, it could make up for the funds lost to the BTL but I’m not counting on it. If we enter another general lockdown I can see the market declining again.
Process vs Outcome
Although I talk a lot about outcomes, like hitting certain wealth milestones, it’s important to take a step back from time to time and remember that the process of investing is more important than the outcome. I can’t control the outcome, in that I can’t control what the movement of stocks will be from one day to the next. However, if I control the process of investing regularly and let pound-cost-averaging work its magic then I know that over the long-term, I will make money. It can be difficult to separate the emotion from this though, as when you see the stock market tumble it can feel like you are losing money. It’s important to remember that losses and gains are only realised when you sell. Some of my stocks have dropped in value by 40%, but I’m still snapping those shares up because over time I believe they will recover and pound-cost-averaging means I’m getting more units for my money.
If you concentrate on investing primarily as an outcome, then it’s too easy to get sucked in to checking stock values daily and stressing over market fluctuations. It took me a long time to distance myself emotionally from my investments. So, whilst I check my stock value weekly it is purely for tracking my wealth figure for this blog. I find that checking the value, and writing this blog, is helping me stick to the process. It keeps me on track.
Focusing on designing and implementing an investment process means that the outcome will come about organically. If you focus on the outcome it’s too easy to get drawn into bad practice such as speculative investments and gambling. Then, once you are in that mindset it can lead to further destructive actions like chasing losses and “churning”, which is trading stocks too frequently, in the hope of catching a winner, which results in much of your investment being lost to fees and taxes.
Investing should be regular, and largely automatic, once you have created a process that is appropriate for your strategy and risk profile.
Thank you for reading, and if you have enjoyed this blog please share it on social media. My Instagram is @david_scothern and my Twitter is @nowwelive01. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below.