“In times of change learners inherit the earth; while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists” – Eric Hoffer, American writer.
That was the quote of the day in MarcusToday a little over a year ago. I always enjoy the quote of the day. Some I have seen before, but it’s still good to be reminded of them. Others like the one above are new to me. Hoffer’s comment appealed to me so I kept it on file.
There’s no doubt investing in the stock market demands constant learning. How often have I said ‘I will never do that again’, ‘next time I will know how to respond’ or ‘why did I let that happen’? There are of course the times when I think ‘great, I got that one spot on’ or perhaps more often, I nailed that one thanks to Marcus’s advice. I see the experts making similar comments but they tend to have more complicated ways of saying ‘I got it wrong and will do better next time’. Next time is never quite the same so there’s yet another experience to add to our fund of knowledge. Forget the idea that we can ever achieve perfection we just have to go on learning and trying to do better.
It’s not just the stock market, as Hoffer’s comment applies to every aspect of life. We have the notion that we can choose whether to learn new things as we age but life is no longer like that. Maybe it never was. We constantly need to learn new tricks just to keep our independence. Learning to use a computer to access web sites and to communicate by email is a big step for many, but no sooner have we done that than we need to learn to use Twitter, if only to keep up with Donald Trump, then there’s SnapChat, Zoom, Netflix, the list is endless. It’s almost impossible to communicate with the various levels of government and fulfill your role as a responsible citizen without a reasonable command of the computer. The Covid 19 pandemic has taught us that we must keep up to date if we are to keep informed. I had never heard of epidemiologists, or contact tracing, it’s even given me new insights into our constitution.
Every day brings a new challenge and new opportunities. Jumping through the hoops of the online signing system adopted by our SMSF accountant. Very convenient if it works but stressful when it gets stuck and we can’t hand sign and deliver it because he is more than 5K away. There are always problems to solve; thinking about the next subject for Retirement Today, reading MarcusToday and understanding the charts and arguments. Is there an opportunity I want to take? Do I want to take the risk or keep the money in the bank for no return? It’s great brain exercise and there’s a nice benefit if we get it right.
The quotes about learning from mistakes are numerous and have often appeared as quote of the day. My favourite is Eleanor Roosevelt who said “learn from the mistakes of others, you can’t live long enough to make them all yourself’. That really sums up the situation. We need to learn and learn fast. We will make mistakes. We just have to make sure we learn fast enough so as not to run out of time.
Learning gets harder as we age or at least it gets slower. As I have written before my grandchildren once saw me as the great fount of knowledge and now they wonder why I ask them how to manage my smart phone. We learn, but slowly.
Having to work hard to learn is not all bad. One thing the medical world discovered some time ago, and is continually emphasising, is that older people need to keep their brains active. It doesn’t matter what we do though some things seem to be better than others. Exercising the brain has been proved to stave off the effects of Dementia and Alzheimer’s and anything which will do that has to be worthwhile. Fortunately for me one of the recommended forms of mental exercise is sailing. Playing a musical instrument, learning a new language or playing board games with the grandkids are also recommended along with many others. My wife particularly enjoys competing with the competitors whilst watching ‘Letters and Numbers’ on SBS. I watch too over a beer or a glass of red and we feel good when we outscore the competitors. It’s also very reassuring that we still have a brain and can still use it effectively.
As oldies we often like to look back. So many memories, so many good times so many achievements, so much to re live and enjoy but it’s the future that matters. It matters to us and it matters to our families. We have to keep learning to be part of it and to continue to enjoy our lives.
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