Time, Health and Money

I wanted to reflect on making choices in your life. I once asked a person who lives their life very consciously about their decision-making framework. He said something quite simple. So long as it fits his ethics, he does what he wants unless he can’t. What he found that limited people was time, money and health. 

Time, money and health are the great resources you have. 

Time is your first great resource. I spoke a little about this in my second blog – managing yourself. I was a young CEO and was simultaneously chairing the national board of super funds. During this time, I had our second baby so had a laptop in my maternity room. I got good at prioritising time because I was running a business where the rules kept changing and we also wanted innovation. So I had to focus on making sure the 'important' was achieved, as well as the urgent. Over time, you’ll find your 'important' changes. For example, I made my recent career change because having more personal time rose in importance for me.
Money is your second great resource. I had great opportunities to learn from some of the best people in the world over the years, as we built the investments at QSuper. However while the total investments came to a huge number, I always translated our work into its effect on people. One of my financial planners showed me his box of tissues for those clients who would cry from relief when told they could retire with enough money. I was acutely aware of the joy of 'enough'. 

About 15 years ago, I became interested in behavioural finance, the crossover of finance and psychology. You see whilst money is numbers, it’s the humans who make the decisions. Often, we are not rational economic beings, we are human beings. For a couple of decades, I had the privilege of watching lay and finance people react to investment markets. I learned from the GFC that many thought they could handle investment risk until it came. The GFC caused me to think long and hard about 'enough' as well as complexity and risk. There is much to be gained from simplicity and resilience in your finances. All too often we shoot for more than 'enough', without thinking whether it makes us happy or considering the downside. 

Interestingly there’s now research into how to spend money to make yourself happy. For instance, experiences matter more than stuff. Experiences are what you’re going to treasure in your twilight years. Spending on others, even buying someone a coffee in a day, also adds to your happiness.
So when thinking about how your money can empower you, think about it making you happy. Understand what you’re invested in and take enough risk to live a good life, but consider the downside also. Have a bit of perspective around a good life. If you get to make a choice between a flat white and a latte, by global wealth standards, you are living an incredibly prosperous life!

Health is your third great resource. QSuper is one of the biggest life and disability insurers in the country as well as a large employer. I lived through many sad stories of accidents and illnesses and peoples long retirement not arriving. Many health outcomes are just a fluke and not fair. I keep a touchstone list of people who passed away too early to remind myself that life is precious. I have always been profoundly grateful for being healthy and intelligent. Of being given opportunities. I think this is why I try to use my time and gifts well. I know on average, I should expect to live a long life in Australia, but averages are just that. Half go either side. 

Whilst I spent nearly all my working life encouraging people to save for retirement, my own mother died age 61 when I was 27. 

So know that time, money and health are your greatest resources in living the life you want. If life has chosen you to be here, why not choose your life?