Life is full of surprises and challenges. Sometimes these events can be overwhelming and our ability to think straight isn’t what we want or desire. When I have a big decision, I retreat to my safe space to clear my mind. I’m not talking about the place where college students and go when they hear something that is controversial. What I’m talking about is the place or activity that allows you to clear your mind, focus on the issue at hand and come up with ideas to tackle the challenge or opportunity of the day.

For me, my #1 safe space has always been my garage gym. It’s a no-frills environment with little temptation for distraction. I put on my headphones, get a short (or long) hard work out in. I keep a note pad next to me to write down ideas and thoughts. I almost always come out the other end with several options on how to tackle an issue or take advantage of an opportunity.

How do you identify your safe space? First and foremost, it needs to be a place that provides a calming or clarifying effect. The living room with your children running around playing tag is probably not the best place to focus. I know a lot of individuals where their best place to think is in the shower. Crazy, I know, but it’s usually quiet and the noise of the water can have a calming effect. The hard part is getting the thoughts and ideas down.

A safe space doesn’t even need to be a space per se. It could be an activity like yoga, meditation, walking the dog or prayer. Again, just have a way to get the notes and thoughts down in some sort of format.

How does this tie to finances and financial planning? Well it does and doesn’t. Unfortunately, a majority of financial decisions are made on the fly without thought or deliberation. They tend to be made on emotion – which tends to lead to bad decisions. I’ve written about the how investors get emotionally tied to investments (see here) but the same can be true for purchasing a home, making a career change or which college we should send our children to (see How to Come Back From a Financial Mistake).

So tell me, where do you find clarity to make decisions? Where is your safe space?

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