Saturday, 4 May 2013

Risk and instant gratification

Not one hasty decision I've made has had a positive outcome.  Be it a "hot" stock pick without conducting much due diligence or an impulsive purchase, I tend to come off worse than before when I base a decision on limited information and a lust for quick results.

Getting towards something slowly admittedly isn't very sexy.  We're a culture of Now.  We want to get rich quickly and buy into things that promise quick results.  Why buy boring mutual funds when there are financial derivatives that are geared ten times? (A derivative which is geared ten times means that your gains or losses are amplified by ten fold, depending on whichever way a stock price moves.  If a share price moves up by $1, you can make $10 and vice versa).

When someone is starstruck by the lure of quick results and money they forget to account for the impact of a setback.  Having a contingency in case of failure isn't cynicism, it's pragmatism: setbacks and outright failures can happen in spite of your best intentions and hardest work.

Here's one thing I know about slow results: they can be replicated.  Great results that came slowly occurred as a result of many carefully thought out and conscientious actions that were compounded.  The lessons you learn will help you achieve a positive outcome quicker the next time.  Where there's less luck involved you're thus better equipped to repeat any success.

The thing about fast results is they're hard to replicate and often depend on uncontrollable factors to give them a tailwind.  Making money on a derivative for instance depends on short term movements of a stock price, and nobody I know can control a stock price.  With short term irrationality and talk of regular price manipulation on the markets, it would take a brave person to fancy their chances at consistently making correct calls on a share's short-term price movements.  Sure if you make a right call you can pull off a large win, but you can't expect them consistently because there's no real blueprint for quick results in life.  Quick results are too dependent on externalities rather than acumen.

If I had just invested the money I blew on a "hot stock" into the blue chip company I ignored I would have been richer today.  Sometimes luck can go your way, but still, in the pursuit of quick results you should only invest an amount of time and/or money that you are happy with writing off, because just as success is possible, so too is spectacular outright failure when you take a shortcut.  Success and failure go hand in hand: one cannot exist without the other.  So while you must have every intention and make every attempt to succeed, best you be prepared to deal with both before commencing with anything risky.

The Happy Uprising: A Passionate yet Pragmatic Approach to Fulfilment, is available for Kindle.
Amazon Review: "Sometimes it's easy to feel burnt out from life. I liked the book because it offers a solution to that problem. It's short, concise, and easy to read.  I'd recommend this book to anyone who feels stressed out from a job, and wants something different."

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