I am not sure if you’ve followed the stock market this year, but it has been a wild ride. In January and early February, we were approaching record highs in the major indexes. Then COVID-19 happened, and everything plummeted in March and April before an incredible recovery since the middle of 2020 (with some minor corrections along the way).
I have a huge interest in technology trends, startups, IPOs, and the like – and during the last six months, growth stocks in the technology sector have gone gangbusters. Specifically, cloud services, electric vehicle (and battery) companies, edge computing, solar, cybersecurity, and WFH (work from home) stocks have doubled, tripled, and even quintupled in the last eight months. Playing the market in these volatile conditions is not for the faint of heart, and many would admit it’s as addictive as gambling. But when FOMO is running high and everyone seems to be making money hand over fist, it’s hard to stay on the sidelines.
Playing the market in these volatile conditions is not for the faint of heart, and many would admit it’s as addictive as gambling. But when FOMO is running high and everyone seems to be making money hand over fist, it’s hard to stay on the sidelines.
At some point during this explosive growth, I felt strongly and repeatedly that I needed to take a break from following the stock market. While I hadn’t done anything wrong or stupid, I was feeling so much FOMO every day and like I was losing stability in my thinking and my emotions. And I felt like it was changing me, and not for the better. Heck, while running on the treadmill I was choosing to watch CNBC (where during the day they constantly discuss the stock market) instead of ESPN (you all know how much I love sports!) Who was I becoming???
For a while, I didn’t listen to God’s promptings, and stayed continually updated on new developments across different growth stocks, the potential for gains, the likelihood for drops, and all of the pundit pontifications as to what the future held. But I was spending time with Him early one morning before the kids woke up, and I felt Him gently but clearly say: “Delete the Stocks app from your phone, and do it now.” And I knew I couldn’t put it off any longer if I wanted to stay in close relationship with Him, if I wanted His continued guidance and wisdom and involvement in my life.
You know how many of us take a break from the stress and responsibility of life by looking at our phones? Perhaps a quick Instagram or TikTok scroll, or perhaps whatever people are talking about on Twitter? Well, I used my Stocks app in the same way. I was checking it all of the time, just to make sure I didn’t miss anything. Because if I did miss something, I may not be able to BTD (buy the dip – or purchase a security at a low point) or STR (sell the rips – when a stock is raging higher). To be honest, it didn’t feel right, because I knew I didn’t want to spend my life watching stock tickers trying to “time the market.” But I didn’t really have any “skin in the game” so I rationalized it as a harmless distraction.
I realized, though, that it was a distraction no matter what. After deleting my Stocks app I had an immediate peace. Within a day, I was no longer emotionally tethered to the ebbs and flows the (stock) news. I was able to be much more present with my family and other responsibilities, and that felt nice and right and honoring to everything else in my life. Oh, and my weekly screentime report from Apple iOS plummeted! Plus, if any stock-related topic came up in conversation with my friends or neighbors, it gave me an opportunity to tell them I had deleted my Stocks app and was taking a long break because I found myself too caught up in the frenzy, always looking for an edge. I would like to think that spoke to them in some way.
The best outcome of this decision was really remembering that God is my source. I have always kept in the back of my mind the reminder from Deuteronomy, which states:
“But remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth.”
And my clearer head also allowed me to remember the verse from Psalms which states that “unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.”
I have found these promises so true not only in my life, but in the lives around me. I’m pretty sure I was not created to spend hours and hours each week obsessing over the daily changes in the price of stocks, worrying about when the right time is to buy or sell, and feeling anxious that this actually matters for my future and my family’s well-being. God will take care of me and can do exceedingly and abundantly above all that I ask or imagine. This may or may not look like a quintupled return on an investment in six months, but if He wanted to do that in some way, shape, or form, He could do that. I already know He has saved me and my family from spending the equivalent of those gains on medical costs simply by protecting us and keeping us safe over the years. So there’s that, which is pretty dang awesome!
I’m pretty sure I was not created to spend hours and hours each week obsessing over the daily changes in the price of stocks, worrying about when the right time is to buy or sell, and feeling anxious that this actually matters for my future and my family’s well-being.
I don’t know who needs to hear this, but we’re not meant to be rushing ahead of God nor making (any) decisions because of FOMO. At some point, I’m going to re-install my Stocks app, have conversations again about the companies I think are cool and promising, and make some trades. I feel like I’ve regained control over my perspective, values, and priorities of where I want to spend my time and emotional energy, but am still going to wait a bit until I get the green light from Him. And if I start losing control again, I will be quick to pull out. God is my source, not my fretful efforts to find an edge. I do not want that life, because it is void of faith and trust in Him.
Image source: https://bit.ly/3hCn5Xb – FTI Consulting