Last week I was walking through the store and noticed a display of old-school Duncan Yo-Yos, the kind every young boy should own. So I bought one and took it home for my 9-year-old son to learn on.
He took it with him on our camping trip last weekend and both he and his sister walked all around camp displaying their newly acquired yo-yo-ing skills. We took it with us on a hike one morning and the kids passed it back and forth while walking down the trail.
When we encountered a hill, I challenged the kids to walk up the hill while focusing only on the yo-yo; no looking at the path in front of them up the hill, only the yo-yo. Of course, they both accepted the challenge. Both failed. They tripped, stumbled, and generally looked punch-drunk trying to walk up the incline focusing only on the up-and-down movements of the yo-yo.
I tried and failed just as miserably. Walking up the hill while looking at only the yo-yo is very difficult (go on, you know you want to go try it now…).
However, if I ignored the yo-yo and focused on the hiking path instead, neither hiking – or yo-yo-ing – were difficult at all. I had my kids try it again, this time looking only at the path. Both did great.
Saving and investing over a lifetime is a long hike uphill. Focusing on the constant yo-yo of political elections, world events, and 24/7 cable news networks will be no different than my kids’ first attempt up the hill.
Focus on the uphill; ignore the yo-yo. Slow, steady, and disciplined has a pretty reliable track-record of getting us where we want to go.