Consistency is Better than Speed

One day I decided to walk home from work. My office was about 3 miles from home with much of the journey along a beautiful city trail with the remaining mile following a busy roadway. As I walked that last stretch, I had several good neighbors who were driving by, slow down and offer me a lift home. I thanked them but mentioned that my walk home was intentional. They seemed a bit surprised, perhaps because Americans don’t really do a whole lot of walking. Maybe we have become too lazy, or more likely too impatient to enjoy a nice walk.

When I lived in Italy for two years in my youth, we walked all the time. We might drive or catch a bus if we were leaving town but within the city, walking was the norm. On a recent return visit with Launa, we found ourselves four miles out of town, having initially taken a taxi due to poor weather. When it came time to return the sun had come out, so we decided to walk. We love walking and had done quite a bit of it during this trip. In the distance we could see the dome of the Florence cathedral, so we walked towards it. It turned out to be a lovely walk and though it was a little far by American walking standards, in seemingly no time at all we were back home.

Whenever I go on a walk farther than to the mailbox there are two things I notice. First, initially I worry the distance is too far and the time required will be too much. Second, once on my way I find that both the time and distance shorten, and the walk goes by much faster and more pleasantly than anticipated. The neat thing about walking is that though you are moving slowly, you are moving continually. And it always amazes me how much ground you can cover when you just keep going forward, even if at a slower pace.

For me, investing for retirement is much like taking a good walk. Initially, the distance to where you want to be can seem overwhelming, like our walk home in Florence that day. The Cathedral domes can seem a very long way off. But if you just start moving and keep moving, while enjoying the sights along the way, the trip may go by quicker than anticipated. Americans are a great group, but we are very impatient, which is not a good quality for investors. Impatience, a partner of greed, has led many investors, while attempting to hasten their journey towards retirement, to actually make it longer.

Sometimes it is ok to be in a hurry. With investing I recommend more of a “walking” attitude. Get a view of that distant cathedral dome, (your retirement goal), and then patiently and consistently start walking towards it. You will be surprised at how quickly you will actually get there when you just keep moving.

Dan Wyson, CFP® is author of “The Gold Egg," and “21 Financial Myths” and owner of Wyson Financial/Wealth Management 375 E. Riverside Dr. St. George, UT 84790 - 435-986-9525 – Securities and Advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network, member FINRA/SIPC, a registered investment advisor