You know that “life admin” sh*t you’re currently ignoring?
…that health kick you’ve mean to start? …the medical checkup and difficult conversation you’ve been putting off? …the financial junk you need to get a handle on? …what the actual hell is going on with your superannuation?
Yep, that stuff.
It’s okay… you can be honest. We’re all friends here.
We all ignore important sh!t from time to time.
No one needs to tell us these things are important — in fact, they gnaw away at us a bit whenever they pop into your mind. Whether it’s our health, finances, relationship problems — these “life admin” issues will never magically sort themselves out. More likely, they tend to fester and over time and actually get worse.
For most Australians, superannuation is the most powerful asset we have. It defines the life we will live with loved ones when we’re older, AND it’s invested in things that are dramatically shaping the type of world we’re living in. We can use our super to back causes we want to support like renewable energy, or unknowingly have it invested in industries that oppose us like tobacco. In 90 seconds, we have the power to sort this whole “super task” out — but most of us don’t.
So why aren’t we sorting it?
Well, because human nature has a way of working against us.
When it comes to ignoring our subconscious to-do list, behavioural psychology (aka behavioural economics) shows us that there are several key principles preventing us from getting things done. Familiarizing yourself with these principles can help you recognise them and push past the procrastination — so settle on in and get familiar with these concepts:
1) First up, we discount the future.
Is “YOLO” still a thing? For educational purposes, let’s pretend it is.
Human beings naturally struggle to relate their current actions to the abstract, distant future. While a handful of people may plan for the decades to come, the natural tendency of the rest of us is to focus on the more immediate priorities of NOW. We’re more concerned with who’s dating who and which events we’ll be attending this weekend than how well we’ll be doing in our twilight years. Psychologically speaking, most of us naturally YOLO without thinking about it.
2) Rather than make choices, we accept defaults.
Aka, we really enjoy “going with the flow.”
Whether it’s our bank accounts, telco or superannuation funds — our “choices” are often really a non-choice. Choices require thinking - and thinking is hard. Because we only have so much bandwidth for critical thought, we’ve evolved to take the path of least resistance.
In superannuation, our defaults are typically the super funds chosen for us by our employers. Unfortunately, these are rarely the most suitable choices for each of us individually.
Alas — once a choice has been made for us (in life or super) we rarely reconsider or revisit what’s already been done. Australia is lucky to have a default superannuation system, but default funds can create a bigger problem of disengagement. This has led many Aussies to unwittingly stick with an underperforming fund, or hold multiple unnecessary accounts.
3) We stick with the status quo.
If it ain’t broke, don’t — well, maybe it is a little broke, after all.
It always feels easier to keep things as they are — even when something is “off” or wrong in our current situation.
The truth is, risking the potential loss of something we currently have or destabilising something in our lives that feels solid is scary — even when that something is bad for us or likely to cause us more harm than good in the long run.
Sometimes things truly are broke, and we still don’t fix it.
4) We look at life through rose-colored glasses.
Nah mate, it won’t all “come out in the wash.”
When we fear there is no “easy” solution, we often fall back on blind optimism. Even when we suspect problems in our daily lives, we tend to rely on coping mechanisms rather than take action.
Research shows that humans tend to be overly optimistic about the future — even when the evidence points otherwise. When our relationships are rocky, we hope that our partner might magically change. When we have no solid financial plan, we think of things like winning the lottery. This tendency toward optimism is useful in keeping us appeased in day-to-day life — but unfortunately, it can also cause us to stand still when what we need to do is take action.
So, what’s the good news?
Well, the good news is — now that we’ve identified all of the elements holding you back, we know that the only thing stopping you from taking action, is yourself. In life and with your super, the power to act is in your hands.
Wanna start by sorting your super? Cool, we’d like that.
It takes 90 seconds to give Zena your details, and start sorting your sht out (by sht we mean super). So make this the day you reclaim the power of your superannuation and take the first step to clearing those gnawing subconscious to-do’s out of your life.
This article is general in nature, and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider if the information is appropriate and whether you need to speak to an accredited professional.
Kris White is the Chief Behavioural Officer at Zuper. Using behavioural science and evolutionary psychology his goal is to help the Zuper community increase their wealth and wellbeing.