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Our first reaction to the assertion that the global financial system is increasingly unstable and likely to fail is either: 1) denial, or 2) panic. Neither is an appropriate response.

Let me assure you that the sun will come up in the morning and you will be called once again to do the best you can with what you have. That won't change. The sky is not falling. Panic is not an appropriate course of action. Denying that anything will change is just closing our mind prior to investigation – a sure recipe for everlasting ignorance and failure.

A reasonable person will conclude that change is probably the only constant in life on this earth. Change is not just a possibility, it is a certainty. We as individuals, communities and nations are in a constant transition from what was to what will be. Sometimes the transition is rapid, or even instantaneous; at other times it is glacial, spanning generations and centuries.

Adding to our anxiety is a change that has occurred in the past 20 years that is so ubiquitous and pervasive we may fail to recognize its' paramount importance: Information flows are near instantaneous. Being instantaneous, news comes to us unfiltered, with no clue as to its importance or unimportance. This destabilizing, but miraculous and potentially beneficial, change is discussed further in the article, “Info Shock”.

So the first thing we must develop is an efficient filter that separates the important from the unimportant and Sense from Nonsense. Otherwise, information overload will keep us frozen in confusion, unable to act.

Actually, it is not that difficult because the rudiments of such a filter are part of the primal human survival kit - our eyes are drawn to movement and our ears are attuned to unusual sounds. Over the centuries, survival has depended on being aware of things that move and make noise. It is just a matter of consciously adding to the list of parameters for the existing filter until they become reflex habit while expanding the list of things that attract our attention in the first place.

The natural tendency here would be for me to be drawn off-subject and start listing screening parameters for everything from personal safety to weather prediction – from lurkers to caterpillar fuzz. It isn't a bad idea but the topic here is an increasingly unstable financial system and our personal risk of being harmed by possible instability.

Lets think about the thousands of financial headlines that we see and hear every day. The events behind them seemed important enough to someone that they wrote about them. The question is, are they important to me personally? The answer is mostly “no”, many “maybe”, and a very, very few “yes”. Don't waste any time with the “no” stories, skim the “maybes” and bore in on the “yes”. You will be surprised at how quickly this becomes habit and how much time it saves.

The next hurdle to overcome is that the financial news industry has priorities that are different from mine. They make every effort to make their causes mine and try to enlist my support (usually for their ideology or product). If I allow this, I harm myself and it is my fault for letting it happen. All I have to do is decide whether it is important to me or not. If “no”, then I must just refuse to let them occupy my mind. This can be difficult, but it is possible.

The point is that the first step to “making haste slowly” in a changing financial world is to develop a good bullshit filter and use it all the time. Yours will be different from mine.

The next step is to honestly determine vulnerabilities. That is the subject of a previous article entitled “Prepare for … What?”. Financially, I am harmed by low interest rates because I have no debt and they diminish the return on my savings. Inflation will erode the purchasing power of my savings while deflation will enhance it. Those who owe money and have no savings have very different vulnerability and self interest from me. In fact, our best interests are diametrically opposed.

The point is that the second step to “making haste slowly” is to define my own best self interest and vulnerability. One size does not fit all so the task is impossible to delegate. Once defined, it is a fairly simple matter to reduce vulnerability and work in my own best self interest.

These two steps will lay the foundation for surviving and prospering no matter what happens around us. Foundations are never very exciting. Sorry 'bout that.

Sense and Nonsense Is dedicated to providing the information, ideas and interaction necessary to build a community of people who can be trusted and who trust each other.