The stock market can go up any given year, but the price fluctuations within each day, week or month can go up or down. Long-term investors shouldn’t equate those granular ups and downs with overall risk in a portfolio. Risk is a permanent loss of capital.
The volatility, or price fluctuations, come in unforeseen clusters. We would all like to be able to get out before the downturns, but it isn’t possible to systematically avoid downdrafts. The better option is to focus on the investment goals rather than day-to-day price fluctuations, or the people who talk about them ( read talking heads).
If I invest my money tomorrow, I would have risk of that volatility/price fluctuations. If the market goes down 2% tomorrow, then boy, my portfolio is marked down a bit . But if I’m not planning to do anything with my investment until the long term, then the price fluctuation doesn’t really mean a whole lot. It’s part of normal market volatility.
If you want to avoid fluctuations, then the perfect answer would be to invest in a treasury bill that annually loses 2.5% to inflation.
Risk, to us, is the permanent loss of capital. Risk, to us, is not fluctuation of prices.
Expect and accept price fluctuations, and if you can’t, then don’t expect higher returns on your investments.