The magic certainty button…

Carl Richards is a Certified Financial Planner™ and creator of the Sketch Guy column, appearing weekly in The New York Times since 2010.  The following article is reproduced with permission from his weekly newsletter and his website can be found here.

Greetings, Carl here.

There’s no such thing as a Magic Certainty Button.

Sorry to burst your bubble.

There is no spreadsheet that can guarantee you will be fine. There is no amount of money that can guarantee you’ll always have enough. Uncertainty equals reality.

But that doesn’t mean we should live our lives petrified with fear.

Once we accept that the Magic Certainty Button doesn’t exist, we can stop looking or hoping for it. We can take all that wasted time and energy, and use it to do something more helpful—like repeating Reinhold Niebuhr’s Serenity Prayer over and over again.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Not into prayers or mantras? Try this:

1- Make a list of all the things that matter that you can control.

2- Look at that list and put a big, fat check mark next to everything you’ve addressed to the best of your ability.

3- Whatever you didn’t check off, take some time to work on it.

4- Any time you start craving that Magic Certainty Button, just go back to that list and remind yourself that you have done everything you can (or if you haven’t, then do whatever you can).

5- Let go of the rest.

If you can do that—specifically, if you can make it all the way to step 5—you’ve got a touchstone for what can help you feel just a little more comfortable in an uncertain world.


P.S. As always, if you want to use this week’s sketch, you can buy it here.