I recently started reading Adam Alter’s book Irresistible. This book is a kind of a shell shocker on how technologies, like our iPhones and social media, are morphing into the methamphetamines of the 21st century. A bold statement but the more you read the book, the more you start to think to yourself “I might actually have a problem.”
Today, more than ever, we are so completely overloaded with information that it’s near impossible to stay focused on the important aspects of our lives. I can attest for this myself, in just the few minutes it took to write this article, my Apple Watch has sent me 5 alerts, I checked my e-mail a dozen times, and I keep staring off to check the market on CNBC. I also went to Amazon to find a URL for Adam’s book so there’s another distraction.
“…In 2000, Microsoft Canada reported that the average human had an attention span of twelve seconds; by 2013 that number had fallen to eight seconds. (According to Microsoft, a goldfish, by comparison, has an average attention span of nine seconds.)…”
This makes perfect sense. Why does Google allow you to skip ads after 5 seconds? The answer, you don’t have the attention to listen much longer.
…Human attention is dwindlingMicrosoft Canada
And this trend of diminished attentiveness is not going away anytime soon. The more technology is absorbed into our daily routines, the more we are doomed to NEED it.
It’s kind of ironic that Google will show me 294,000,000 results for “Internet Addiction” articles but zero results for any trends showing the growth of internet addiction.
So this brings us back to your investments. With our brains only paying attention for maybe 7-8 seconds, how are we supposed to hold an investment strategy or plan a retirement for 20+ years? The world is becoming more and more complex for retirees and the reliance on the individual to provide for themselves is only growing.
As time passes, every bank, financial planner, investment firm or insurance agency is finding new digital ways to blast you to take action. You will never see an advertisement from any of these firms saying “just stick with your investments, you’re doing fine!” Instead, they tell you about making money quick, retiring early, avoiding losses and a mess of other nonsense.
And don’t think your financial advisor has immunity to this, honestly, they probably have it worse. I find myself having to step back from the ledge of stupid decision making all the time!
With that, I wanted to bring back a chart from my first post. This is a piece that JPMorgan put together that really helps break everything down.
I am perfectly fine with clients being hyper-attentive to their investments, and would never tell anyone to turn a blind eye to how they are invested. But WHERE we allocate the majority of our attention is where we are going to see the best results.
- We have TOTAL CONTROL over our spending and savings strategies.
- We have TOTAL CONTROL over our asset allocation.
- We have SOME CONTROL over our health and employment.
- We have NO CONTROL over stock market gyrations, politics, tax changes, or impacts to social benefits.
Spending time on budgeting and taking an appropriate level of risk will nullify most of the noise the media blasts our way.
Focusing on our health through diet and exercise can potentially increase your longevity (longer retirement).
Bettering your employment through personal development, certification, and continuing education can improving your earnings and savings potential.
What the market does on any given day, what any politician says, what CNBC just mentioned, or how your accounts performed relative to the S&P 500 are all useless. They have no direct bearing on your personal finances.