Have you ever wandered through a dense woods?
You generally follow the path of least resistance, but it doesn't always lead you to where you want to go. It's clearly the easiest path but it deadends at a clearing or a stream or someone's home. You end up backtracking to find the less traveled path to your destination. Your path may have more brambles and bushes and may not be as smooth or easy to follow as the other path, but at least you will get where you want to go. If you travel through life following the path of least resistance, you often end up at the wrong place and at the wrong time. You may lose time and effort backtracking and correcting your course, but it is necessary to do so if you want to reach your goal.
I thought that I had it all figured out. I studied the market and read all the right newsletters and columns written by all the “experts” and set out to conquer the market and accomplish great things with my retirement investments. You carefully analyze all available documents and once you arrive at a sane and logical conclusion, you concentrate your investments in that area and wait for the values to increase. You have no intention of gambling with your slowly acquired nest egg – you want to invest it wisely and safely. Then one day God stretches out his hand and smites thee. He hits you in the head with a 2x4 just to get your attention and then gently destroys your tower of logical investments. You realize once more that nothing is sure and definite in this world and you are definitely NOT in control. It turns out that the experts can be as wrong as you and that all the figuring in the world can't sway the market once a panic takes over the thundering herd. What once was a wonderful bargain worth all your praise is now just a house of cards and stock certificates worth little in the future.
So, I find myself backtracking trying to find the right path to reach my goal. I have less to burden me as I strike out on new trails. I carry a bit more wisdom with me and I am a bit more humble now. I realize that all your eggs in one basket can break more easily when you trip. I'll take it a bit more slowly now and watch each step more carefully.
A word from the once-smitten – be careful out there and don't believe everything you read.