Working Wealthy – Time Passing, Fast and Slow

November 24, 2020

I’m guessing Daniel Kahneman will never read this blog, so he won’t be offended by my riff on his Thinking, Slow and Fast book title.

Pardon the term, but in these days of COVID-19, time seems to have taken on a very different meaning and reality. And, being a relatively new parent, I’m acutely aware of the paradox of time and how it can pass both slowly and quickly all at once.

Most of us have heard the advice given to new parents—the days last forever and the years pass too quickly.

2020 sort of feels the same way. The year is nearly over and has seemingly flown by. However, certain days in 2020 seemed to be never-ending. So, what can we learn from all that 2020 has given us?

Short-term is just that—short

The panic and market upheaval of March and April 2020 impacted us all in some way.

Depending on which “market” you track, March 16 brought one of the worst market days in over thirty years. Some indices were down nearly thirteen percent that day.

And if you recall, it was a Monday. We still had four more market days to go!

Just like sitting on an airplane with my two children, age 1 and 3, flying from Chicago to San Francisco years ago, my wife and I joke that we weren’t counting minutes, we counted seconds.

Investors did just that during that Monday in March. Sticking to their conviction and reminding themselves it’s only short-term, it’s only one day, they turned the week, the month and then the season, and ended up back in the black.

The election is finally over?

Whatever your political beliefs, it’s hard to argue that this year’s election was tumultuous at best. No one enjoys the uncertainty of not knowing who will be president and if a new president will impact their life.

Presidencies tend to have permanence in our memories, but they only last so long. While four years is a good stretch of time, it’s also marked halfway through by mid-term elections. Four years is also the amount of time most of us spent in high school.

While high school most likely made a big difference in your life, it was a very short period of time in the grand scheme of things and relatively short.

While we wind down 2020, it’s important to remember the next four years may seem like a long time but they will also pass. How we manage through those four years is what will matter.

Whether waiting out a bad market, agonizing over who will be president, or hoping your three-year-old stops sucking his thumb, it all eventually passes and time marches on.

Being in the fray and managing the stress or anxiety of the moment is the real challenge. Reminding ourselves about time and how it moves forward without regard for humans, is the key to making it through.