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Out of the Loop: The IFD Syndrome

Having just concluded the Whole30 Program, I am no longer consumed by squinting at food labels and demonizing sugar.  I knew enough was enough when I hallucinated a meowing Little Debbie trotting across our kitchen. But I feel the recovered ½ belt notch and soured disposition are well worth it - all in the name of spousal solidarity.

Going into the Whole30 program, I’m not sure what my expectations were.  But at its conclusion, the hollow pit in my stomach was more than 3rd stage starvation, it was a psychological pang.  It got me thinking about an obscure concept known as the IFD Syndrome.  This theory was devised by the late Dr. Wayne Dyer.  He simply described it as the ‘the psychology of tomorrow’.  Given the challenges of life, it makes perfect sense.  Be it health, career, family, school, finances etc. we all tend to replace near term concerns with distant optimism.   Dietary trials aside, let’s attempt an IFD/finance tie-in.  

Idealize – This is the stage where you anticipate great results when an event arrives.  It could be the holidays, summer vacation, new golf clubs, or a fresh investment. Going back to school?  How about retirement?  Or selling your business?  No one buys a stock thinking they’ll lose money on it right?  The recent $1 billion+ Power Ball was a perfect example of idealization.  Most people weren’t actually anticipating a winning ticket.  Rather, they purchased a cheap, what-if fantasy.  Like-wise with gambling, the upcoming Super Bowl provides millions of novices the opportunity to wager.  Most of the fun is pre-game, as we all still have ‘winning’ tickets.  But the tails coin flip gives a rude slap to your heads proposition. Which leads to…   

Frustration – The day finally arrives.  Its Christmas morning!  But the initial excitement begins to fade. That bile-green sweater under the tree wasn’t the game changer you anticipated.  The new car has annoying dash board rattles. The professor stinks.  My Whole30 tiger blood doesn’t compensate for the lasagna & carrot cake cravings.  And I’m still working after the-can’t-miss biotech stock was halved Friday afternoon.

Disillusionment – The frustration hangover arrives. My handicap went up with the new golf clubs. The 5 star mutual fund was down for the year.  I have 40% fewer friends after Whole30 concluded. The job promotion has longer hours and more stress.  The family vacation was rainy, tiring and expensive.   Retirement is boring.  I owe the bookie.

So now what?  How can you cure any emotional ills?  Most, simply return to step one and idealize something else!  Sure, this continuous hope-ium beats terminal depression but it also perpetuates the cycle of disappointment.  I’m personally much happier when I temper expectations of not only myself but also others & occasions.  Writing snarky newsletters helps too.  A wise Svengali once told me: “Average is ok”.   Stop swinging for the fences and just get on base.  Seven percent returns are not bad.  Ignore the co-worker/neighbor/bellhop/in-law/cousin who lies boasts about their incredible portfolio.  Don’t get emotionally attached to investments.  Finally, it helps to realize that money, experiences, people and stuff are transitory; not ours to really possess but to value & enjoy