For many decades, the stock markets have had their ups and had their downs. However, when you look at trends, despite a number of “crashes” along the way, over the years, the stock market keeps making it’s way higher and higher. If a person has many years before she/he will need to touch that money, placing your 401K or other monies into the stock market, over the long term, will result in you seeing a higher return than more conservative investments such as money market funds and bonds. Many financial advisors tell their clients to not even look at the day-to-day fluctuations and the biggest mistake any person can make is to try to “time the market”…i.e. pull money out of stocks when the market starts tanking and conversely, start pouring money in when stocks seem to be going up. Just be patient, and over time, the stock market will be up.
As doctors are notoriously bad investors, why is Posner discussing the stock market? Here is the analogy for the long-term weight control arena. UNLIKE the stock market, where it is “smart” to park your money, not think about it, and then be very happy in 30 years that you did not impulsively sell, buy, sell, buy etc, it is NOT smart in the weight control arena to “not think about it”. The strategy of “not thinking about it” will result in weight gain over the long term. Keeping with the analogy “dieting” may result in the occasional “dip” in the numbers, but over time, the weight will keep an upward trend.
Long-term weight control requires constant awareness and action. Long-term positive stock market returns require no consistent monitoring and no action is needed. Invest in your own health…but unlike the stock market, check your “portfolio” (weight) frequently and also unlike the stock market, adjust your holdings (dietary intake and exercise) based on short term results.