Can You Future-Proof Your Life?

Many people are motivated by the desire to be as prepared as possible for an uncertain future, but they recognize that this is no easy task. We encourage you to take a big picture view of the world and consider the many ways that the future could unfold. You’ll want to envision where you would like to be going in both the near-term and in years to come, and to keep abreast of the wide and growing range of investment choices available to you. By thinking in this broad, creative way, resilient investing gives you the tools to design a personalized plan. This will show you where you’re currently investing your time and money, highlight areas that you might be over or under emphasizing, and provide the guidance you’ll need to move forward in your chosen directions.

As you put your plan into action, you’ll notice a newfound sense of calm, one that rests on the knowledge that you’ve taken measured steps to future-proof your life and are ready to ride out the inevitable storms and surprises that come your way. You can’t eliminate risk, but you can dial down your stress levels and have more peace of mind by knowing that you’re prepared. Having a comprehensive and diverse set of investments will provide genuine benefits when one or another market you’ve invested in has a downturn (whether it be a sudden drop in the Dow, a dry spell that decreases yields in your garden or regional food network, or an unexpected health challenge). While it is always painful to suffer a hit in one area, investments in other Zones will likely be doing better and help carry you through.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that this broader approach to investing, one that elevates goals such as fulfillment and meaning, can also bring benefits to your financial bottom line. Yes, making money, and stewarding it well, is very much part of the picture. Resilience focuses your selection of financial instruments towards ones that are most relevant to these times, and it brings new investment opportunities onto your radar. In your daily life, it can also serve you in more fundamental ways; its big-picture lens helps you avert short-sighted mistakes, and it excels at pointing out ways to reduce expenses while increasing happiness.

Another key benefit to this framework is that it’s designed to keep you flexible and adaptable. Part of the process is to regularly revisit and revise your plan. If there is an unforeseen event, resilient investors find a way to learn from that experience and emerge smarter and stronger. Think of a redwood tree: after a fire, it grows even sturdier and releases its seeds into the rich soil left behind. But even if disaster never strikes, resilient investing is smart investing. Its forward-looking approach helps you identify and seize new opportunities that others may miss.

Finally and perhaps most important, as you move through this book and take steps to boost your personal resiliency, you’ll also be fostering resilience in our communities, our economy, and our environment. The beauty of this approach is that the strategies that best prepare you and your family for a range of future scenarios are inherently beneficial to the systems upon which civilization and all life depend. Resilient investors strive to stay abreast of the changing world and participate in constructive ways, wherever it goes: to be part of the breakthroughs to a sustainable future, to prosper in a world that’s muddling through, and to have foundations for sustenance and happiness in place if things start to crumble around us. While this resilient adaptability is central to effective personal decision-making, it also enhances our collective ability to successfully traverse these times.

What makes this so groundbreaking is that you, the investor, need not base your decisions upon any moral or ethical injunction to do the right thing. In many ways, what we’re proposing here can be seen as nothing more than a rational attempt to be prepared for multiple possible futures. Of course, we take it as a given that nearly everyone desires what’s best for the world—it’s this natural human tendency that in 1999 led us to call what we do “natural investing.” But we also know that many people make their investment choices, at least for financial assets, based strictly on their calculations of monetary risk and return. Resilient investing offers a big tent, one that welcomes anyone who wants to be proactive about their future.

For those who are motivated to intentionally weave personal values into their financial and life decisions, there are now many more ways to nudge the world forward than ever before: companies actively building an economy that thrives within the limits of our biosphere and the diversity of global cultures, community loan funds that foster opportunity and equality in societies worldwide, crowdfunding empowering innovation throughout the economy, and programs building local food systems and funding ecological regeneration. Your investment, banking, purchasing and charitable choices can be part of any or all of this—and in so doing, you’ll be aligning your financial decisions with your desire to make the best of whatever is yet to come.

Meanwhile, the heart of the resilient investor’s portfolio may well be in non-financial investments. We can all benefit from putting energy into our own well-being and personal growth. Your relationships, in family and community, will forever be the fertile soil from which your life grows. And the time and energy you invest in the place where you live will foster the tangible assets of the home, ecosystem, and community that you’ll be living in and relying on in the years to come. As you expand your investment horizons to include more than what you do with your money, you’ll stay connected with the real wealth in your life. And that’s always your best investment!