Does the challenge of making informed decisions about your life seem far more complex today than it did even a short time ago? Does the future—yours, and that of the world—feel highly uncertain, perhaps even precarious?
I can sense you there, nodding in agreement. Social inequities, environmental degradation, stock market volatility, economic uncertainty, and technological innovations are combining to make the near- to mid-term future more uncertain than ever—amazing breakthroughs, disruptive breakdowns, and muddling along much as we have been are all realistic possibilities. In the face of this uncertainty, you need a resilient approach that is poised and ready to adapt as needed to a range of possible social trajectories.
Fortunately, Resilient Investing offers a way forward, guiding you to make choices that help you to thrive in your own life, while at the same time contributing toward larger, shared goals for our community and society as a whole. The framework that my colleagues and I developed and I’ll share with you below will help you take advantage of a simple fact: every day, you are making investments in yourself, your money, and your stuff. By making all of these a conscious part of your “resilient investing plan,” you can leverage each of them to better move you towards your most cherished goals.
Resiliency also reminds us that personal well being is intimately tied to the well being of our society and our shared natural environment, expanding “me” to also encompass “we.” As you use this framework to grow all of your assets—personal, financial, and tangible—you’ll be able to make an increasingly larger beneficial impact on the lives of those around you, and on the life of our region and the planet as a whole.
This radical re-visioning offers a more complete accounting of your life’s full “net worth”:
YOU (Personal/Social Assets)
Working with yourself and others:
- Embrace lifelong personal growth (counseling, introspection, support groups, spiritual/religious practice, and community)
- Continue your education (college, professional development, workshops)
- Nurture your relationships (family, community, professional)
- Choose a vocation that has meaning for you and/or work that leaves you with time, energy, and money to pursue your passions
YOUR MONEY (Financial Assets)
Working with money:
- Seek out a bank or credit union that reinvests in your community
- Only choose financial investments that align with your values
- Look into community investments in your area (e.g., loan funds, crowdfunding/Kickstarter, etc.) as a way to let your savings pay social returns
- Explore micro-lending platforms or international loan funds that put some of your savings to work in developing nations around the world
- Consider options for annual donations targeted to projects and issues that are important to you and not otherwise addressed by your volunteer and investment choices
YOUR STUFF (Tangible Assets)
Working with nature and things:
- Pursue a long-term plan for increasing the resiliency and personal/tangible returns available in your home and land (renewable energy systems, gardens, energy/comfort retrofits)
- Consider the social and environmental impact of your shopping choices (eco-footprint of purchases, reducing consumption of optional “stuff”)
- Participate in caring for your shared community infrastructure (volunteer or serve on boards of local non-profits, water/electricity coops, etc.)
- Make food choices that support your health and the growth of your regional food system
- Spend time both enjoying and helping to protect and regenerate natural areas in your town and region
As you can see, your personal quality-of-life, as well as your ability to meet future opportunities and challenges, can be measured by how well you balance and grow each of these three essential assets—you, your money, and your stuff. Resilient Investing provides three distinct ways, or strategies, that guide you towards effective planning: close to home in your family and community, positive engagement with the global economy, and evolutionary tactics that can transform society in fundamental ways. Personal and social resiliency are both fostered as we spread our individual and shared wealth across the entire Resilient Investing Map.
The Resilient Investor offers a fresh road map that can help us navigate the turbulent times in which we live, while at the same time fostering a healthy planet and the well being of global society. Becoming resilient means that we’re personally prepared for a wide range of possible futures, able to survive—even to thrive—in a world that confronts us with unprecedented shocks, and presents us with unimaginable opportunities. It also means stepping up to become active players in making our world more resilient, strengthening the human and natural systems upon which all life depends.
You could think of each of the Map’s nine investment zones as baskets in which you can distribute the eggs (time and money) that you have to invest. By doing this, you’ll achieve far more diversification than could be imagined from the limited perspective that most people are accustomed to using. Working with the Resilient Investing Map helps you become aware of the ways you’ve been choosing to invest in and with each of the nine zones on a daily basis and to start aligning all these investments with your desired goals.
As always, things get most interesting where the rubber meets the road. What does it mean to invest in, say, personal assets within the sustainable global economy? Or to grow your tangible assets as part of an evolutionary strategy? This map fleshes out the answers to these questions so individuals can begin seeing that all of their choices, about how they use their time, spend their money, and target their future directions, can work together and create a foundation for responding nimbly to any changes that may come in their lives or in the world around them.
As a resilient investor, reflect on the various risks and opportunities ahead, and shape your life in meaningful ways to protect and nourish personal, social, and financial well being. For example, if climate change looms large in your concerns (and it should!), seek out innovative ways to invest in renewable energy, both for your home (personal/tangible) and via emerging crowdfunding or impact investing channels (financial/evolutionary). Fear of another financial system meltdown stressing you out? Move your money into community financial institutions (financial/close to home), loan money to regenerative agricultural initiatives (tangible/evolutionary), or get involved in a locally-focused investment club (which involves some personal assets of time, and some financial assets, directed close to home).
I invite you to embark on this journey of exploration in service of a most concrete purpose: preparing your life and our shared community for whatever may come. The Resilient Investor and the Map can help you cultivate a deeper clarity about how to work toward your hopes and dreams for the future while also accounting for the uncertainties inherent in looking beyond our visible horizons. The way forward is likely to be dangerous, exhilarating, and challenging; it can also be rewarding, nourishing, and joyful. We may not know which future awaits us up around the bend—but the way there is clear: we’ll just need to bend!
Visit www.resilientinvestor.com for tons more details, additional maps, and comprehensive resources and commentary.
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Christopher is a co-author with Hal Brill and Michael Kramer of The Resilient Investor: A Plan for Your Life Not Just Your Money, published in 2015 by Berrett Koehler Publishers. The three authors are also co-owners of Natural Investments, a sustainable and socially responsible impact investing firm with nine offices in eight states around the country. Christopher, a Leadership Institute 2011 fellow, lives in Windsor with his wife Genevieve Taylor (2010 fellow) and their son on a developing permaculture homestead.
This blog was produced as informational material for the Leadership for a Sustainable Future course. It has been provided to the public to promote community wide education on issues of sustainability. You can support the education efforts of the Leadership Institute, 501 (c)3 non-profit, by donating here.