Could you benefit from a guardrail?

Updated: Aug 2, 2018

I love Seth Godin. He’s a New York marketing guru but above all that he’s a thinker and he tends to describe things in a way that makes you pause and contemplate. You may not agree with everything he says but if he causes you to consolidate your thinking, question what you’re doing or change your behaviour then he’s done a remarkable job.

Last week he wrote a post called: Demand Guardrails and I’ve pasted it in full below. That’s because many of us need guardrails but we rally against them because we believe as fully functional adults we shouldn’t need them. They make us feel like children at times and we feel that demeans us because we should be able to ‘adult.’ The thing is, sometimes, if we just relax against the guardrail, we can enjoy the view without needing to be so conscious of the risk. The guardrail allows us to be fully present without constantly needing to scan or take unnecessary risks.

How do you place a guardrail? Easy. You become accountable, you put in place rules and boundaries. Not because you’re forced to but because you’ve discovered your values and priorities and suddenly the guardrails are necessary to help keep you on the path that you’ve determined. You learn to love the guardrails because they allow you to concentrate on speed, skill and getting to where you want to go.

What guardrails do you need to put in place when it comes to your finances? Firstly you work out what your values & priorities are and then make a plan for how your finances can help you live them. You work out great spending patterns, you use cloud based solutions, you set up direct debits, make smart invesments and engage professionals to hold you accountable. You set up a strong and robust guardrail to help you achieve your goals in life – not to restrict you. That’s because you’ve finally realise the guardrail is all about perception.

If you don’t know how to set up a guardrail for your finances or suspect we might be part of your solution then make sure you contact us today at

Demand guardrails by Seth Godin

It’s tempting to believe that left to our own devices, we’ll all maximize our health, make smart investment decisions and generally follow our instincts on the road to happiness.

But it turns out that cigarettes are addictive, that financial distress causes people to make short-term decisions that are damaging, and that we even have trouble doing smart and easy things with a 401(k).

Culture is powerful. Marketing is makes it more powerful. Financial interests are powerful, too.

If peer pressure and short-term urgencies set us up to do things we regret, we come out ahead when we support cultural changes that remove that peer pressure and lessen those short-term urgencies.

We know that wearing a bicycle helmet can save us from years in the hospital, but some people feel awkward being the only one in a group to do so. A helmet law, then, takes away that problem and we come out ahead. Same for seat belts. One less decision to make.

One of the biggest contributors to decreased cigarette usage is a tax. A tax on sugary drinks has a huge impact on people’s health. Is this the encroachment of the dreaded nanny state? It’s better than being sick, or dead. It’s hard to imagine being a parent and being opposed to these boundaries and disincentives.

Banks have a ton of policies designed to remove the temptation of their officers to engage in any sort of graft or corruption. The policies reduce the cognitive load, eliminate temptation and let people get back to work.

Guard rails always seem like an unwanted intrusion on personal freedom. Until we get used to them. Then we wonder how we lived without them.

Economics was built on a flawed assumption: That we are rational, profit-seeking, long-term players, with access to information and the time and inclination to process it. If all that were true, we’d be living in a very different world.

Instead, the humans among us can benefit from realizing that in fact, we’re deeply incompetent at making certain kinds of decisions, that well-funded marketers are working overtime to confuse and deceive us, and that cultural guardrails not only help us avoid pitfalls, but give us the reinforcements we need to get back to productive work and healthy lives.

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