Diana Nyad

I’m pictured here, joking with Diana Nyad, a few years ago and I’m watching attentively today as Diana, America’s historic endurance swimmer, makes her 2nd attempt in as many months after initially attempting at age 28 to swim 103 miles from Havana, Cuba to Florida.  She states that she’s in the best shape of her life, and while age has slowed her swim stroke pace a bit, it will not prevail to thwart her current attempt.

She was stung repeatedly last night by Portuguese Man O’War on her face, side and both legs, and also battles asthma, yet she is still swimming strongly and with a dogged determination. Completing this record swim has been a lifelong dream of Diana’s which she explained to a few select lucky friends, when we met in the Carribean several years ago.  She gave me a couple of swimming pointers, and deemed me her best student, as I implemented her suggestions immediately and have swum more efficiently and effortlessly ever since.  She is a real pro, in so many respects, and certainly is the swimmer to watch in these open waters off the coast of Florida.

How is it possible to maintain focus for what is likely to be 60 consecutive hours, when your body is so tired?  No surprise here, when Diana shares her secrets.  She says, “the mental approach has to be to parcel it out.  No one could swim the whole thing while thinking about the whole thing.”  “Till I get a glimpse of the final shore I can’t start obsessing on it–it’s too far away, too nebulous–I don’t know where it is.”  So, she ‘chunks it down’, getting/swimming through the nighttime, then swimming through the daytime, and then repeating that routine until the finish line.  Much like women and money and our need to ‘chunk it down’ when we are attempting to understand our retirement planning, isn’t it?  We must focus on what’s at hand presently, and then look at and prepare for the next step.  Only after the next step is taken will we focus on the following step, and then the following step until we have achieved our goal. 

Just as Diana focuses on one partial goal after another, we must achieve one partial goal after another.  Diana shares that she likes to sing songs inside her head to pass the hours.  I advise that we, too, shield ourselves from the media and those who would tempt us to act/sell in the face of volatility, and instead distract ourselves from that noise by singing songs inside our heads, or knitting, or baking or shopping or reading a novel.

Did last night’s repeated  man-of-war stings hurt Diana?  You bet!  She’s clearly swollen and plenty uncomfortable.  Have the recent market drops been frightening and hurtful to us and our psyches?  You bet!  We’re down (on paper) and plenty uncomfortable.  Yet like Diana who is focused on her long term goal, we’ll maintain our focus, and allow our investments to stay invested and as such, to respond to the market stimulus as they will, despite the fact that it may seem dire and hopeless if we focus only on the recent downturns. 

Particularly as women investors who will “actuarily” outlive our male counterparts, we need to stay the course, and endure with our investment plan, and invest more into our investments if we are able, exactly NOW, exactly when their price is depressed.  The stock market is on sale, so we should buy low, if we have any extra money.  We surely will not SELL LOW!  We will allow the mixture of our different assets to cycle through this current turbulence and come out on the other side, however quickly or however elongated that emergence will be.  History shows us various market cycles and we KNOW that investments are long term in nature.   Those very investments will provide much needed income in retirement. 

Let’s cheer Diana on, and cheer ourselves on for staying the course, especially as mature women, so we can rejoice in achieving our various goals, not the least of which is a choice-filled retirement.