A Summer Without Headlines: The 90-Day Challenge

Did you read, listen, or watch the news in the last year? If so, you probably came across one or more of these headlines:

  • Europe Stocks Close Down, Euro Hit as Greek Talks Stumble
  • Russia says it would match any U.S. military buildup in Eastern Europe
  • U.S. fast-track vote leaves Pacific trade pact talks in limbo
  • U.S. manufacturing sector said to be in a technical recession

Any one of these items, let alone all of them together, might keep you up at night

But they shouldn’t.


Because — repeat after me — you can’t do anything about any of them.

These events, and others like them, are completely out of our individual control.

However, that won’t stop the 24/7 news channels from trying to convince us otherwise.

That’s why I’m suggesting something sort of radical for the summer of 2015/16: Go on a media fast

Specifically, I want you to ignore the top headlines and the breaking news for the next 90 days.

If you want to read something interesting, I suggest you get started on this in-depth article about computer code.

If you want a lengthier read, go to your library and check out a few of these books.

If you’re feeling really crazy, go outside. Play with your kids. Go on a hike. Spend time with your significant other.

But whatever you do, avoid anything that’s “trending” for the next 90 days.

For some of you, I know this fast will be really difficult.

You soak in news like a sponge.

You probably can’t imagine going without it for more than an hour or two let alone 90 days.

If you fall in this camp, I want you to ask yourself one question: Does knowing what just happened make me any happier or does it just increase my stress?

If we’re being honest, I suspect it’s the latter 90 percent of the time.

We have zero control over these events, and yet we’re encouraged to devote attention and energy to things that make us feel bad.

Let’s hit the pause button for a short time and see how it feels.

How do we feel during a day when we focus on what’s right in front of us versus what’s happening halfway around the world?

To be clear, I believe there’s a huge different between being well informed about current events and staying glued to CNN 24/7.

I think we’ve gotten into the bad habit of confusing the one with the other.

This media fast will help us do a better job of separating the two and identifying the situations we really care about versus the steady stream of nonsense masquerading as “important news.”

See how long you can go.

If you feel like sharing, I’d love to hear about your experience.

What changed for you when you took a break?

Did you find more time to focus on other things you care about?

Did you feel better in general?

My experience suggests that all three things can happen.

I think this summer should be memorable for a lot of reasons, but I’m hoping it’s because of the memories we choose to make instead of what we happened to read or see on the news.

Want more of this type of information?

Carl Richards


Carl Richards is a Certified Financial Planner and a columnist for the New York Times, Morningstar magazine and Yahoo Finance. He is author of 2 books, The Behavior Gap & The One-Page Financial Plan. Carl lives with his family in Park City, Utah. You can find his work and sign up for his newsletter (which has an international audience) at www.behaviorgap.com/

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