I think being rational – making decisions inspite of your emotions telling you otherwise, based on facts and data is very critical to successful investing. I try very hard to be rational in making my investing decisions (though I am not successful a lot of times). So if rationality is an important goal for me, what do you think would be one of my most irrational activities?
I would say without hesitation – writing this blog. I have written over 400 posts on this blog and have been writing for close to 6 years now. 90% of the content on the blog is original – I don’t cut paste someone else’s content. If I cannot write something interesting, then why bother?
Now each post takes me around 1-2 hours to write. So If you do the math, it means almost 800-900 hrs of effort till date. This would amount to almost 3-4 months of lost income, as this blog makes next to nothing. So the point is why am I doing it?
I can list quite a few reasons now, but when I started in 2005 I had none. I tried thinking of some rational ones then, but as I could not think of anything I realized that the only reason was that I loved doing it. Some people like to watch TV, some like to paint and I like to invest and write (talk of a boring interest !!)
The start of investing
If I dial back time a bit further, the same situation existed at the time I started learning about investing. The first 3-4 years in the late 90s were a complete wash in terms of income. I made quite a few mistakes, but still managed to do fine in terms of the returns.
However if I look at the absolute amount of money I made in those days, it was peanuts. The only reason I kept doing it was that I enjoyed the process a lot. The income is now meaningful, but I love the process even more.
Being better at it everyday
I personally look at investing as an intellectual activity, where my measure of progress is not the returns alone, but also if I am becoming a better investor over time. It is always difficult to be very objective about it, but I feel I am a much better investor now than I was in 2005 – though I have no quantitative measure to prove it.
I will make a bold claim now. If some of you like me are not professional investors and are into investing because you love the craft, then it is a given that you will improve year on year, inch by inch and will do well in the long run. How will it be otherwise?
What about the money?
By the way, in case you are thinking that I am being hypocritical and don’t care about the money, that’s not true. I do care about money – have a family to feed :). Its just that investing and blogging in my case is more than just about money. If it was only about money, I would have never started it.
A surprising conclusion
I have come to a very surprising conclusion due to the above experience and based on what I have read about others. If you love doing something and really don’t care what others think or whether you will succeed or not, paradoxically you will get better over time and actually be more successful at it than you originally imagined.
What makes me think I am now more successful at investing? My wife now thinks that this odd thing her husband does on the side may amount to something :)