As Suze Orman Says, “It’s Part of the Deal”
The financial guru girlfriend we love best recently responded to a question about pulling money out of an IRA that had lost money in the downturn. After exhorting the reader not to touch the fund, Orman (author of Women & Money: Owning the Power to Control Your Destiny) explained why:
I do not want you to change one thing because you are, in fact, doing everything right. How can losing money be right? Because it is part of the deal you make when you invest for growth over the long term.
My point here is not the financial advice. I was taken by how Suze reframed the investment as a deal that has its inherent features. She’s saying, in essence: you invested in the stock market. The stock market goes down as well as up, even on its way to long-term growth. That’s the nature of the beast. You voluntarily bought into the stock market, so why are you surprised, and panicking?
Let’s translate this from money into life.
When you make a “deal,” whether it’s for a certain job or a particular profession, whether it’s marriage or parenthood, whether it’s a dinner engagement or a volunteer position, you agree to terms. For every deal, you are making investments and taking risks. It’s up to you to conduct your due diligence before signing the deal. It’s up to you to understand the investment required and the possible risks. It’s up to you to make the terms explicit. It’s up to you to negotiate. It’s up to you to make sure that you can handle the downsides as well as the benefits. It’s up to you to decide if this is the deal you want and will honor, come what may.
Because if things turn sour, or get tough, or don’t go your way, you can’t just throw up your hands like a four-year-old and scream, “No fair!” That’s not power. That’s a temper tantrum.
In order to get into the habit of clarifying, owning, and optimizing your life choices, try this exercise: I want you think about your life as a series of deals, from the most major to the most minor. Write down the three deals that are preoccupying you the most these days. Then, in subsequent columns, write the investment required, the possible benefits, and the possible risks for each one. If you had considered all of these elements of the deal, would you have made it in the first place? How can you better handle the deal now? And how can you make better deals in the future?