The Psychology of Behavior: Knowing How-To Doesn’t Mean Much

By Jessica Searcy Kmetty

I KNOW how to work out. I KNOW how to play tennis and lift weights. I KNOW how to run a business.

Knowing isn’t enough.

Ask the millions of people who are struggling with any number of issues and chances are they could rattle off 5-10 things they KNOW would change their situation for the better. And if you ask them how many of those 5-10 things they’re doing, the answer might be ZERO.

Knowing isn’t enough.

Knowing how to do anything doesn’t mean you’re going to take action to do it. That’s why I have a trainer who helps me with weightlifting. That’s why I’ve had several instructors/coaches/professionals throughout my life who encourage me to learn, grow and get better at any given activity. That’s why I have a business coach who keeps me accountable for bringing ideas to fruition.

Our dreams and ideas of doing something, even when we know how, can sometimes be too overwhelming to achieve. Here’s what I see often as an advisor: You want to save a million dollars for retirement? Sounds great. You can use tools such as your employer-sponsored retirement plan, automatic savings deferrals, the compounding interest growth of your investment accounts and…WOAH! That’s too many tools. Too many situations to handle at once. So you tell yourself, “I’ll transfer $1,000 into my bank savings account, feel good for a while and save the million dollar goal for another day…

…When I have more time. You won’t.

…When I have more clarity. You won’t.

…When there’s less to do. There won’t be.

…When I have someone keeping me accountable… You can!

I talk with so many people each week who know they need to be budgeting, who know they need to be saving, who know they need to be investing and who know they need to have their insurance and estate in order. And they haven’t done a single thing in any category. So we meet together, discover what their needs and goals are and WHY these needs and goals exist, and then we start. We start with the most important piece of their financial plan (to them) and we start eating that elephant one bite at a time.

Do I need an accounting of what they’re currently spending? It’d be helpful. But instead, I ask, “Can you send me your credit statement report from 2022?” CHECK! Do I need a family tree view of their dependents and relatives to understand their commitments and future inheritance? It’d be helpful. But instead, I bring a family tree printout to our meetings and fill in the gaps as they share. CHECK! Do I need a copy of their Will, Trust documents, Power of Attorney statement, Advance Care Directive, and list of beneficiaries on all entities? It’d be helpful. But instead I say, “Can we call your estate planning attorney together tomorrow so I can start requesting documents directly?” CHECK!

Most people I talk with know a lot about healthy financial practices, but their behavior doesn’t match their knowledge. It takes accountability to make things happen and that’s what we hope to offer each person we work with. Because we understand the importance of coaches in life and want our clients to succeed.

Please remember that different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product made reference to directly or indirectly in this content, will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), or be suitable for you or your portfolio. Due to various factors, including changing market conditions, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions. Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this newsletter (article) serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from Searcy Financial Services, Inc.

The content of this letter does not constitute a tax or legal opinion. Always consult with a competent professional service provider for advice on tax or legal matters specific to your situation. To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue discussed in this content, he/she is encouraged to consult with the professional advisor of his/her choosing.  

Published for the blog on January 31, 2023 by Searcy Financial Services, your Overland Park, Kansas Fee-Only Financial Planner and Investment Manager.