Days or Decades: What’s it going to be?

By Carl Richards.

Carl Richards is a Certified Financial Planner™ and creator of the Sketch Guy column, appearing weekly in The New York Times since 2010.  The following article is reproduced with permission from his weekly newsletter and his website can be found here.

Greetings, Carl here.

What I’m about to tell you is going to sound crazy… but bear with me because it’s definitely true.

Ready? Here it is…

We get to decide what we focus on.

Hold on… let me repeat that in case you missed it:

We. Get. To. Decide. What. We. Focus. On.

When it comes to investing, that means you have a choice.

1- You can tune in to the financial pornography network, go through endless cycles of “buy buy, sell sell,” obsess over the latest IPO, and deal with the apocalypse du jour while cycling through all the emotions that come with it.


2- You can focus on what actually matters when it comes to investing. And that’s time. A very long time: decades.

If you choose to focus on days, you are signing up to make yourself miserable. And for no good reason. There’s actually no benefit to that. I can handle pain that leads to gain, but this is just pain that leads to more pain.

On the other hand, when it comes to investing, we actually get rewarded for ignoring the daily noise. As Morgan Housel says in his book The Psychology of Money, “Warren Buffett is a phenomenal investor. But you miss a key point if you attach all of his success to investing acumen… His skill is investing, but his secret is time.”

And you know what Buffett said?

“Benign neglect, bordering on sloth, remains the hallmark of our investment process.”

Does that sound like the type of guy who is constantly refreshing CNBC?

Remember, you actually have a choice. Days or decades. What’s it going to be?


P.S. As always, if you want to use this sketch, you can buy it here.