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Analysis paralysis, dieting, and dollars

Losing WeightI have set out this summer to lose the extra “baby” weight that I gained during my wife’s pregnancy.  Yes, of course she is mostly at fault, she brought the ice cream home and made me eat it with her!  She also knows that I am a loving husband and a social eater, so I had to participate. But so far, with diet and exercise, I am down 9 pounds from then and much more comfortable in my dad bod.

But one thing I’ve noticed through this is how much people talk about their diets. It’s a lot, and if they are on keto it’s easily 10 times that of any other dieter. I have heard more about intermittent fasting, reducing carbs, portion control, gluten-free, meat-only, and vegetarian than I ever cared to. (As a side note, a vegetarian meal is considered an appetizer in my opinion, but I digress.)

Too much information = paralysis by analysis

What really got me thinking is how confusing the amount of information surrounding dieting can be; the various theories, studies, and opinions that both confirm and disprove each belief. Specifically, plans with the same end goal that literally contradict each other in every way. I almost started to change my whole fitness plan at the beginning – before I could even measure any progress – based on all the mixed information. This could be referred to as “analysis paralysis.”

Measuring Weight Loss and DietingRemember not all information is even accurate or trustworthy

The same can be true for retirement planning and investing, delaying our ability to start a plan. Yes, there are certain definitive “truths” in investing — but also a wide variety of situations, and each person is different in their needs and goals. Plus, think of all the news, Facebook articles, the water cooler talk at work, and the vastness of the Internet swirling around us feeding us with information. We all want to do the right thing, but who can you trust?

This doesn’t mean that I am a proponent of putting blinders on to completely ignore all advice; in fact, we should always seek knowledge. But there are some tips to sift through the noise:

Avoid Analysis Paralysis3 ways to avoid financial “analysis paralysis”

  1. Consider the source. This is the “where, when, what, why, and how” questions.  Who is giving the advice and why? Say that Bill at your office indicated (or bragged) that his return in his 401k was better than yours. Ask him — whatwas the period of measurement? How did Bill measure it? Where is Bill allocating his risk? Why is Bill telling me about this? Or, frankly, who is Bill anyway and does he even know what he’s talking about?
  2. Stay focused. Keep your eyes on the goal and streamline. Not every story of whimsy or untold riches deserves a look. Start a financial plan or budget and stick to it while making small adjustments along the way. The more unchecked information that you allow in, the closer you become to “analysis paralysis.”
  3. Talk to a financial coach. This is where I, your local financial advisor, come in! Even if it’s not me, there is a benefit of having a finance professional to coach you in things such as investment risks and how to allocate your investments. The perspective of someone in your life, but not in your immediate situation, can be enlightening.

July 2018

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