LESSONS FROM AN ANT
I was listening to the radio the other day to an insect expert and how they had paralleled the psychological behaviours of humans with those of insects. Some interesting points were made in regards to ants, and grasshoppers, which led me to thinking how we could learn a thing or two regarding our own financial freedom, by looking to the ant world.
How you ask?
Before we delve into our “finance from an ant” advice let’s consider what scientists have already discovered about these busy, little, hardworking creatures.
- Scientifically ants are future planners whereas grasshoppers are scientifically proven to “live in the moment”.
- Despite not having any leaders they accomplish fairly complex tasks such as food collection and storage, garbage collection, nest preparation, security and even war.
- When they begin a task they work tirelessly back and forth, with determination and little distraction – and they do this repeatedly.
- When presented with a question of collecting a smaller crumb of food closer to their nest or a larger crumb further away from the nest, studies show they opt for the harder option of navigating and carrying the larger crumb back to the colony. They can work hard for a greater result even though there is an easier option.
So, you say what does this have to do with money and in particular savings? Let me show you:
EMBRACING DELAYED GRATIFICATION – You will never see an ant carrying their snack who stops to take a bite, or eat it all. Chances are she has bypassed a smaller meal for the one she is carrying. She has a purpose for that crumb and she is going to make sure she carries it until her destination.
In other words ants have embraced the concept of delayed gratification. Many of us have all lived the life of a grasshopper at some point and frittered away our savings on instant gratification and not considered saving our extra money. We have recklessly nibbled on our crumb, convincing ourselves we need that item today and many of us are now finding ourselves with little to no savings or in debt above our heads, because we couldn’t wait or we were living in the moment.
Work with what you have now. Starting with a small amount and invest into something that will grow your wealth in the future. By adding your small “crumbs” to your savings or your investments and delaying your gratification for a bigger picture in the future you are also contributing to your own financial freedom.
In the fable “The Ant And The Grasshopper” by Aesop, the care free grasshopper who didn’t think ahead, went looking to the clever ant who had planned for the winter. Do you have enough savings for a “cold” season? What if you lost your income today? How long could you survive?
YOU ARE THE BOSS OF YOUR MONEY – Despite not having a “boss”, ants do their work diligently. There is no getting around it, hard work, initiative and patience are all key to your own success. There is no napping on the anthill and there is no reward for putting things off to start saving later.
Your employer is not going to create wealth for you. To create your wealth you need to take responsibility for your decisions, the timing of your actions and the result of these combined. When you take responsibility it empowers you. Understand what you are investing in. Seek professional advice. Be educated. Don’t wait for something drastic to happen or someone to tell you. Be the boss of your own savings.
WORKING FOR SURVIVAL ONLY KEEPS YOU SURVIVING – An ant carries a load 3x its size and will build an anthill much bigger than itself.
How? Most people who have accomplished great things have not known the answer to how they were going to do it. They started with an idea and they took the steps in working towards achieving it.
Assess the risks with the goal in mind. Set a goal that you really want but fear you might not achieve. What are the benefits if you do succeed through hard work, determination and building your small ideas into bigger ones, compared to doing nothing because the idea seemed too big?
To be future-orientated and a good saver, a “maximizer”, requires planning and being in control of your savings. “Maximizers are forward thinking, conscientious, optimistic and satisfied”, says leading researcher Susan Zhu, choosing the path of the ant “can be harder or more time consuming in the moment, but it appears to have the best outcome in the long run, even if it isn’t always fun”, explains Zhu.
Perhaps the best m-ant-ra to live by is work hard, seek professional advice to put you on the right track and stay focused on your goals. Instant gratification, and living for the moment, is best left to the grasshoppers. Look to the ant for success. If you need any advice on how to work towards your goals financially, Bishop Collins Wealth Management Services can put you on the right path.