The last two years of history have had meteoric impacts on the finances and lifestyles of Americans: from housing prices skyrocketing, to inflation similar to the ‘70s, the COVID pandemic and learning how to work from home, older workers choosing simply to retire early instead of going back to work, the Russia Ukraine conflict, etc.

It can become easy to let the news dictate the financial decisions of life, but there is a better way. Choosing to sell investments during a news-fueled downturn is obviously a mistake, but people still do it for fear of losing more.

The better alternative is to build a financial plan for your life that is independent of world events, other’s opinions, and the keeping up with the Joneses mentality. This starts with figuring out a safe withdrawal rate in retirement, having the proper insurance policies in place, living within your means, trying to avoid as many taxes as legally possible, crafting a robust estate plan, and building the life you want to live.

What investors are really after is not just good returns in the stock market, but freedom to live the lives they want. Good planning can help you build the lifestyle that you want, without being affected by geopolitical risk, wars, pandemics, and market downturns. Imagine a world where you don’t have to track specific stock tickers and have your emotions tied to certain market outcomes.

I’m reminded of something an older advisor once told me, “The best stocks to buy are the ones that help you sleep best at night.”

How is your investment “sleep score?” Maybe you’re younger like me and you suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out) so you buy more volatile stocks hoping to get in on the fun. Or maybe you’re older and don’t want to lose your life savings, so you’re investing more conservatively. There is no right or wrong portfolio, but the best investment portfolio you can have is the one that helps you sleep at night.