“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” – Chinese Proverb
The biggest reason that the average person does not build wealth through participating in the stock market is that they simply never get started in the process. Most people know that they need to open a brokerage account, an Individual Retirement Account, or contribute to their 401K at work but they simply never get started. Most of the time our favorite day to do things for planning purposes is tomorrow. Unfortunately for many people tomorrow slowly turns into never as the days, months, and years go by. Too often we wait for the perfect time to start learning what we need to do, and many never do that much. After some homework with reading and research then the really hard part begins; we have to start saving money, contributing consistently to an account, and simply actively participating in the stock market and investing. The best time to start an investment plan is always today and the second best time is tomorrow. It is not always time to buy stocks but it is always time to have a plan on how and when you will buy them when the opportunity arises.
Investing is a lot like losing weight. We know what we need to do to lose weight. We need to lower our food intake and increase or activity level. There is a lot to learn in nutrition and we can study nutrition and exercise for maximum results for our health. We can lose weight by simply eating healthier more nutritious foods in smaller portions and doubling or tripling or exercise. It is not rocket science, or we can count every calorie and every tenth of a mile we walk. The stock market is the same way. We know we need to save money and put it in the stock market and follow trends for long term growth in capital. Most long term buy and hold investors have done very well over most ten and twenty year periods with little knowledge or in depth research. They just participated in the stock market and got rewarded in the long term. I am not saying that buy and hold is the way to go but that their ability to take action rewarded them greatly in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Investing and dieting success are more based on behavior than knowledge. I have seen overweight nutritionists and I have also seen very intelligent hedge fund managers lose all their money. Success in weight loss and investing both come down ultimately to the ability to take the right action consistently and controlling our impulses so that a few bad decisions do not wreck all that we have worked for. You have to start the diet or start the investment account to ever have a chance of success at losing weight or building capital. The magic is in the first step, the beginning, by getting in the game. Beginning to take action opens up new potential possibilities about the future. Most diet books and investment books are read and the readers simply don’t take the action. They can’t move from the knowledge phase to the action phase. Here I am saying your first action step is to get into the habit of taking action. Without it, nothing else matters.
If you read this book and agree with the principles of it that is just unprofitable knowledge until you take action. Planning on one day getting started is not a start it is stalling. The most important thing you can do as you read this book is take action to start doing the things you will learn. Action is what causes success not knowledge. Do not wait for the perfect time to start. It is better to start now with any amount of money than it is to wait for some future magic time when your circumstances will be perfect. The principles in this book made the difference between me having multiple six figures of capital in my investment and trading accounts in my forties instead of nothing.
It is always the right time to be saving up capital to build yourself an investment account. The magic starts in your decision to take action, then the power to grow capital into something that can be life changing comes from continual actions that become habits that you no longer have to force yourself to do, they are just what you do. The first habit is to take action after you have done some homework and agree on what you should do next. The next nine chapters will give you action steps that you can agree with or disagree with. If you disagree with one or just decide that it is not the right thing for you then you move on to the next one. However, if you do agree with the action step it is time to do something about it. Take action, open the account, set up the automatic transfer to your 401K, or buy your first stock. The goal is that once you decide on the right path for you that your actions simply become habits. “Do you contribute to your 401K each paycheck?” “Yes, of course.” “Did you buy that stock at your planned entry price?” “Yes, I did.” Once you decide on what the right thing for you to do is then it is your job to take the actions that will move you toward your goals. While taking actions and creating good investing habits does not guarantee your success every time you make an investment it will make the odds of your long term success an almost certainty.
Investing Habit #1: Take action: when you know what you need to do. Do it today. The most important part of investing is to start. Then develop the habits of consistent actions that will build your capital and net worth.
Is there anything you already know you have needed to do in your investment life?
Is there anything you already know you need to do in your personal finances?
Are there any investment accounts that you already know you need to open?
Go ahead and tie up any lose ends in your financial life that you need to do before we move on to the next chapter.
Getting things done will feel good and build good habits.
All this chapter is asking you to do is to complete the things you know you need to do but have not done. This will clear up the past so we can move forward with developing investing habits.
This is Chapter 1 from my book Investing Habits.