As another Valentine’s Day came and went, I briefly considered a social media post dedicated to my wife at one point. As is typical, the post never happened. I became distracted thinking of the similarities between Instagram posts and investing. Yes, she’s a lucky lady…
Ah, Instagram. The place where we love posting perfectly posed photos, pairing them with perfectly penned captions, and showing off our perfect personal lives. Don’t forget to include location tags to bring on the envy. Doesn’t it just sound…perfect? Like Instagram, investing has the tendency to capture a “best of” highlight reel which fails to portray reality and the challenges along the way.
By way of a real-life example, I was this close to posting a photo over the holidays. We were on vacation with friends: warm, sunny, and lots of sand. A picture would capture a beautiful beach moment to remember, and share. At that time, I was again reminded why I rarely post on social media. People love showing the beautiful moments, but their narrative rarely gives a glimpse into the ones that––well––aren’t. During this trip, one of our kids got food poisoning and threw up all night while sleeping between my wife and me. A friend’s child fell on a water slide, resulting in major dental trauma, forcing them to go home early. A retainer on a nightstand somehow got covered in ants—gross, I know—and the plane that was supposed to take us home didn’t, temporarily trapping us with no way of getting home. Good times, good times.
On many levels, this is not unlike investing. It’s easy to look back and focus on one number or moment in time, whether fantastic or dismal. Or to be envious of a friend that loves cherry-picking their investment successes for discussion. Yet, we all know focusing only on brief investing anecdotes usually fails to tell the entire story. You don’t see all the pain, struggles, ups and downs, frustrations, and second-guessing that happens daily when you’re in the middle of it.
All the chapters of your financial journey work together to tell your investment story. Like a marriage or relationship with children, all our moments work to tell the entire tale. They provide both bumps in the road and moments of bliss. That’s the way it’s supposed to be.
It’s important to remember the discomfort along the way which threads together the highlights, both personally and with investing, has value too. Why?