Bloodshot Eyes For Four Days

by Russ Thornton

Photo Credit: Robert Ingomar Baxter via Compfight

I’ll never know what people must have thought at the time, but my eyes were bloodshot for four days straight.

This was in 1993.

My best friend Joe and I piled all our camping, backpacking and rock climbing equipment into the back of my Jeep Wrangler and drove due west along I-40 on our way to Colorado.

For our initial push to the west, we slept in shifts and drove pretty much non-stop except to refuel the Jeep and ourselves along the way.

But this isn’t why my eyes were bloodshot for four days.

During our 2 week trip, we camped and hiked along the Gunnison River Gorge, went whitewater rafting on the Arkansas River (in Colorado), spent a few days rock climbing in El Dorado Canyon, and did some hiking and rock climbing on the Flatirons in Boulder.

While we were tempted more than once to succumb to the siren song of a hot shower and warm bed at a hotel, we camped out the whole time.

And as much as I enjoy camping and being outdoors, I’ve never slept well unless I’m in my own bed.

But this still isn’t the reason my eyes were bloodshot for four days.

Towards the end of our trip, after discussing it and waffling back and forth, we decided to do it.

We were going to bungee jump.

Photo Credit: edwardhurme via Compfight

Out of a hot air balloon.

Outside of Boulder, in the chilly air of dawn, we arrived at an open field as a few other bleary-eyed folks stumbled out of their cars with coffee in their hands.

We signed all the waivers and release forms and had to answer one question.

Waist or ankles?

Joe and I said ankles with little hesitation.

So one at a time, we got into the basket of the hot air balloon and went up about 300 feet or so. With a big rubber band secured at our ankles we didn’t simply jump out of the hot air balloon.

We dove out head first.

And as I learned just a few minutes later, when your bodyweight stretches the bungee cord as far as it’s going to stretch before bouncing you back up into the air, a lot — maybe all — of your blood is subject to gravity as well.

Since I was upside down, the blood rushed to my head all at once.

And that’s why my eyes were bloodshot for four days.

That was over 20 years ago.

I hadn’t yet started my career as a financial advisor.

I’d actually met my future wife at college, but we hadn’t started dating yet.

I owned the Jeep Wrangler we drove out west in, but not much else.

As a 22 year old with little to think about other than myself, my views on “risk” were much different than they are today.

Today, at age 44, I still enjoy being outdoors.

But would I strap a rubber band to my ankles and jump out of a hot air balloon again today?

Not likely.

You might have also experienced an evolving attitude toward risk over the years.

And while conventional wisdom often tells us we should take more financial risk while we’re young and less as we get older, I don’t think it’s that simple.

Bungee jumping aside, whether you’re 46 or 64, if you have important goals that you want to achieve, investment risk is one of several variables you can adjust to help you get there.

Regardless of your age, you may need to take more or less risk in order to comfortably and confidently pursue your goals.

But your personal risk decision should be reached in the context of your goals and your financial plan, not simply based on a multiple choice questionnaire or your desire to get the highest investment return.

Many of my clients have introduced me to their friends and family and described me as a “conservative” financial advisor.

While I appreciate their intent and certainly don’t consider myself aggressive, I’m not sure conservative is the right label either.

With all my clients, my goal is to determine and implement the least-risk investment portfolio that puts them on a path to achieve their goals with enough comfort and confidence, but not too much.

Often, this results in new clients discovering they can take a lot less risk than they’re currently exposed to.

And as your view of risk changes, we can easily model the impact of higher or lower risk relative to your overall financial plan your goals and your life.

Rest assured, I’m not encouraging any “bungee jumping” type risks in my clients’ lives or in their investments, but neither am I looking at risk as a constant.

Just like your retirement age, spending, saving, and other goals, risk is a variable and should be treated as such.

And thankfully, I can help you find the right level of risk without either of us having bloodshot eyes for four days.

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