The Dichotomy of Financial Decisions

In the new book, The Dichotomy of Leadership, authors Jocko Willink and Leif Babin explore the nuances of leadership and how guiding principals taken to the extreme can be counterproductive. Babin notes, “There is a time to stand firm and enforce rules and there is a time to give ground and allow the rules to bend.” The key is understanding when.

For an example in leadership, they explain that if you don’t vigilantly oversee subordinates, your team will lack guidance. However, if you micromanage your team, no one will take ownership of the project. Hence, the dichotomy: too much or too little oversight will damage your team’s effectiveness.

The same holds true for financial decisions. You should have a financial plan that guides you toward your goals, but you should always weigh that plan against other opportunities as they arise. Does the opportunity change your long-term goals? Or is the opportunity just a short-term distraction? These two questions form the dichotomy of financial decision-making.

For example, you may have a good-paying job that provides you the lifestyle and savings level you desire. However, a headhunter could call you with an offer from a start-up where your compensation would be less but the work would be more fulfilling. What do you do?

A lower-paying job is not part of your financial plan, but it could be a great opportunity. Ultimately, the utility of money is to improve your life, so which decision would make you happier: staying on track financially or pursuing more fulfilling work? There is no universal right answer, only what’s right for you personally.

You have to find the balance. You need a financial plan to give you guidance on day-to-day decision-making, but you need to allow yourself room to take advantage of opportunities as they arise.

Josh Norris is an Investment Advisory Representative of LeFleur Financial. Josh can be reached at