Monitor Your Progress Less Often

phelps


When we set any type of goal in life, financial or otherwise, we have a tendency to over-monitor our progress towards our goal. 

When we first start investing, we check stock prices once, twice, sometimes three times per day.

When we first start working out, we weigh ourselves every day and diligently keep track of our progress towards our ideal weight. 

When we first start a blog, we check our site stats several times per day, constantly checking to see how many page views and subscribers we have.

And while all of this constant monitoring might seem helpful, it often has the adverse effect of making us place too much importance on the short-term. We become obsessed with the tiny changes, the slight fluctuations, the random short-term gyrations. 

One bad earnings report by a company stock we hold and the price may drop severely in one day, causing us to lose our cool and sell at a loss.

One bad day of eating and our weight may creep back up slightly, causing us to quit our new workout regimen.

One slow week of blog traffic causes us to quit blogging entirely.

It happens.

This constant monitoring of our short-term progress clouds our long-term vision. We place too much importance on the short-term and forget why we even set the goal in the first place.

We become so entrenched with analyzing the tiny changes in the day-to-day that we lose sight of our end goal. We make the devastating mistake of focusing on short-term outcomes instead of the long-term process.

But there is a remedy to this over-monitoring problem that plagues us. And it’s almost too good to be true:

Monitor less.

Instead of tracking our net worth several times per week, track it only once per month. This lets us take a step back from the constant short-term, often meaningless market movements. It lets us stay focused on our end goal: increase our net worth over time. It gives us permission to not stress about our financial progress on a daily basis.

By monitoring our progress less, we are forced to focus on the actions we need to take to achieve our goals. We know that if we are only going to check our net worth once per month, we better do the work required over the course of the month to ensure that our net worth increases.

Less monitoring gives us time for more meaningful action. It lets us dig our heels in the ground and do the dirty work. It loosens us from the addiction of constantly checking our progress so we can actually make progress.

Less monitoring, more action. Less stress, more peace of mind. Less short-term focus, more long-term focus.

When we deliberately decide to monitor our progress less, we instantly become more resistant to short-term setbacks. Why? Because we aren’t aware of these short-term setbacks. If our portfolio drops today, then increases tomorrow, we don’t even notice because we aren’t obsessing over it. We’re too busy doing important work to ensure our portfolio value increases over the long-term instead.

We’re less likely to time the market, sell off our stocks in a panic, attempt to buy hot stocks to make short term gains.

We give ourselves permission to let go of what we can’t control in the short term, and focus all our energy on what we can control in the long term.

In order for us to make more progress, we need to monitor our progress less often.

Feature photo credit: Michael Phelps

I strongly suggest using free financial tools like Personal Capital to track your net worth, spending habits, and cash flow to help keep an eye on your money. The more you track your finances, the better you get at growing your wealth!

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4 Replies to “Monitor Your Progress Less Often”

  1. I needed to read this. I’m a big culprit of over-monitoring. I read somewhere else that there are only so many ways to save. Apart from random days when the market is so high or so low, we’re sort of wasting our time. Instead we should be focusing on developing new income streams OR a non-financial thing – spending more time with family and enjoying life.

    1. Yes, yes, yes. I agree with everything you just mentioned. Focusing on what we can control and letting the market and all other external factors do what they may is a great recipe for less stress and more productivity. Thanks for the feedback 🙂

  2. Personally I think monitoring my progress works better for me. I like to break down large goals into smaller milestones. That way I don’t get discouraged when I realize that I still have so much less to do.

    1. Monitoring progress is definitely helpful, I’m just making the argument that monitoring it less frequently can help us pace ourselves on our way to our goals and not get discouraged by short-term setbacks.

      But I agree, breaking down large goals into smaller milestones is a good idea 🙂

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