Next week, we observe Labor Day, a celebration of the American worker. You work hard your whole life with the hope that your efforts will ultimately allow you to achieve your financial goals, such as a comfortable retirement. But for that to happen, you may need to apply some of the lessons of the workplace to your efforts as an investor.
So, what are these lessons? Here are a few to consider:
Be consistent. The most successful workers are the ones who show up, day after day, and strive to overcome the inevitable obstacles that crop up. As an investor, you, too, need to be consistent in your habits – which means you should keep investing in all types of markets. If you take a “time out” every time the market drops, you might end up missing opportunities when the next rally begins.
Be flexible. When good workers see that something is not going well, they change what they’re doing. And when you invest, you also may need to make adjustments. If an investment has consistently underperformed, or if you have too many others very similar to it, or if it just doesn’t meet your needs anymore, you may be better off by selling it and using the proceeds to invest elsewhere. This doesn’t mean you should constantly be buying and selling — in fact, you’ll likely be better off by purchasing quality investments and holding them for the long term. But you need to be flexible enough to make the appropriate moves at the appropriate times.
Be informed. The best workers are those who regularly update their skills and acquire knowledge that helps them do their jobs better. As an investor, you should also keep learning – about the investment world in general and about new opportunities for you to explore. And you should always understand what you are investing in – and why. Even if you work with a financial professional, you need to inform yourself about every aspect of your investment portfolio – after all, it’s your money and your future.
Be farsighted. Good workers not only know what they’re doing – they also can visualize the desired outcome of each task. And, of course, people who are in charge of a particular endeavor, or who are responsible for the fortunes of a business, have a clear view of what they want to accomplish, even if the achievement of that goal is many years in the future. When you invest, you also need to see where you want to go. If you can constantly keep in mind your long-term goals – such as the type of retirement lifestyle you desire – you will likely find it easier to stick with an investment strategy that’s appropriate for your needs and risk tolerance. Conversely, if you lose sight of your destination, you might be more prone to taking short-term detours, which could work against you.
Labor Day reminds us to appreciate the skills and dedication of all workers – and as an investor, you can put these same attributes to good use.