Even the best money managers and analysts can't predict the markets with certainty, making it less likely that average investors can do the same.
For that reason, financial advisors recommend taking a step back during times of financial gyrations to focus on the basics of financial planning, the better to protect your investment and retirement portfolios.
Doug Boneparth, a partner and financial advisor at Life and Well Planning says making emotionally charged financial decisions—especially in the middle of a whipsaw market—is a surefire way to make a big financial misstep.
"You need to stick your financial plan, if you have one," says Boneparth in an interview with CNBC. "Your financial plan serves as your financial roadmap and anchor. This helps you see the big picture, not market movements and headlines."
This week's wild swings on Wall Street was just the latest in a market that has become notoriously volatile since the late 1990s. The week that was has yet to come close to the scope of the 2008 financial crisis, or the emerging markets contagion that unsettled global investors back in 1997-98.
"Look at history. As painful as the negative markets are there is always the other side," said Diahann Lassus, partner at financial planning firm Lassus Wherle, in an interview. "After 2008 the markets made back much of the losses experienced in a very short period of time."
Lassus said the real pain to any portfolio is often felt by investors that jump out of the market during volatile times. They often miss the opportunity to participate in the gains during bounce backs.