TheStreet) -- This year will likely be remembered for its broad, unpredictable market swings.
As one might expect in a time of volatility, making all the right moves with your investment portfolio and retirement plan was a challenge. What didn't help matters were the mistakes and overreactions many investors made, moves that could hurt them both immediately and for years to come.
But there are also some easy steps to take to recover from the mistakes of 2010 for a better 2011:
PROBLEM 1: Analysis paralysis
When confronted with questions about what direction to go in with their financial plan, many decided to go... nowhere.
Mark Byelich, president of
M.J. Byelich & Associates
, a Pennsylvania-based financial services firm, says the problem is not just lacking the confidence to stick with an investment strategy, but even having a well-considered plan to start with.
"I talk to so many folks who say they held back from making any contributions to their 401(k) because they were unsure what to do with the market," he says. "There is this stagnation. Everyone is just sort of stuck in the mud, uncertain of what to do."
"You can dissect it down to, 'Maybe I didn't get out of bonds a month ago' or, 'I sold my commodity allocation because I thought we were at the top,' or 'I didn't buy gold,'" he adds. "But I think it comes down to a more fundamental thing: 'I didn't really have a real asset allocation plan, I didn't have a real financial plan and therefore I don't have the confidence to stay in the game.'"
THE FIX: Don't be a baby.
Analysts uniformly see inaction as the most common problem, but also the easiest to fix: Get professional advice, use it and get your assets working. Not doing anything isn't going to help.