A great mentor taught me, “Be careful of your environment because humans adapt to survive.” This lesson was driven home years ago on a family vacation. When we arrived at our destination we realized the motel we had booked was far less than hoped for, a true roach motel you might say. My first response was to find another location, but due to the circumstances, no other options existed. I remember that creepy first night avoiding touching anything and walking around only with my shoes on.
The next morning, I couldn’t wait to get outside and begin our visits to the tourist sites in the area. As it turned out, the vacation ended up being quite a memorable trip. Oddly though, despite our wonderful activities, what still stands out most in my mind was the moment I was getting ready for bed on the last night. I stood at the sink brushing my teeth, in my bare feet, completely oblivious to all the horrible thoughts I had about that motel just a few days earlier. The cracks, the stains, the smells, even the bugs, had disappeared to me. All of my disgust just a couple days prior for this “roach motel” had been forgotten as I had truly “adapted” to my environment.
I discussed this experience with Launa many times since. I have used it in parenting moments with my kids, teaching them to avoid unsavory people, or improper situations, lest they quickly adapt and begin to accept the once unacceptable.
The ability to adapt allows humans to make the best of their situation and survive. It is a valuable trait, but one that also presents danger. How many have gone down a dark path in life, slowly accepting and then embracing what was once unthinkable? The same trait has cost the fortunes of many investors. Years ago a lady who had been a victim of investment fraud said to me, “I don’t know how I allowed this to happen. It should have been so obvious.”
She had gotten involved in an investment that she felt uncomfortable with from the start, but she allowed herself to justify investing a mere $5,000. As time passed she quickly adapted to her new financial surroundings, becoming more comfortable with individuals and situations that once caused her concern. Uneasy feelings faded into acceptance of the new norm. As she adapted, her small investment grew to include her entire portfolio, nearly a million dollars. She had allowed herself to spend a few nights in that financial roach motel, to which she quickly adapted. In the end, she lost everything.
Like a bad motel, bad investments are often most apparent when we first confront them. If you find yourself in such a situation, the best and easiest time to get out is right now. If you stick around for just a bit, you may one day find yourself living in your own financial roach motel, and feeling eerily comfortable with it.
Hi, I'm Dan. I'm a CFP® Professional.
Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network®.
Member www.finra.org / www.sipc.org , a Registered Investment Advisor. Wyson Financial, 375 E Riverside Dr, St. George, UT 84790
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