Investing for the future is a daunting task that most of us are not fully prepared for. Whether you want to minimize your risk or maximize your returns, you are bound to regret some loss or a missed opportunity along the way. Regret is inherent to the process, but once you've accepted that it's inevitable, you can begin to deal with the fallout. Here are five tips to help you move on when an investment doesn't go your way.
Know What You Want
Find the right balance for you
The surest way to magnify your regrets is to skip this step. If you jump on any investment that sounds tempting, without fitting it into your larger plans, you won't be happy with how anything turns out. So are you looking for sudden, big gains, or do you want the stability of a sure thing? Do you want a diverse portfolio, or a focused one? And how much of your money are you willing to put on the line? Once you figure out the balance you want, you can prepare yourself to let go of the missed opportunities or the losses that go along with your broader goals.
Don't Blame Yourself
There's no sense in beating yourself up
Seriously. Whether your money is going into individual businesses, mutual funds, or cryptocurrency, there are major risks involved, and no one can navigate those risks perfectly. Even if, in retrospect, some choice you made with your money was obviously wrong, you've learned something. Chances are that you didn't study investing in school, so the surest way to learn is to try, and any time you try something new, failure is on the table. So you screwed up and lost some money. If you have a broader plan, then it was money you were willing to risk. Mark off one mistake you'll never make again, and move on. Chances are it won't be your last mistake, but each one will make you a better investor.
Don't Be Reactive
If you let a mistake scare you off track, you'll just make another
I once lost a large chunk of money on a risky investment in an individual company. Shortly after, I allowed myself to be talked into shifting money from another individual stock to a more secure real estate investment. There was nothing wrong with that real estate investment, but the stock I sold has since grown to over five times the original price. I let myself be scared away from a calculated risk because of one bad experience. Stick to your guns. One investment going sour does not predict that others will do the same.
Don't Chase Trends
You are not Nostradamus
You can't predict the future. The good news is tht you don't need to. If you were a day trader, you wouldn't be reading this, so don't try to jump on board with the latest exciting development, and don't jump ship at the first sign that an investment is trending down. You can't know when enthusiasm is peaking or pessimism is about to give way to a rebound. If you're willing to risk and experiment, you can move some portion of your investments around with the shifting financial winds, but don't lose track of the long-term. Siting on a smart investment is the easiest thing in the world, but it does take patience.
Pat Yourself on the Back
Give yourself some credit
Not everyone is even trying to prepare for their futures. The fact that you have regrets at all means that you're doing more than most. Give credit where it's due. You took some risks and they didn't all work out, but you're learning and improving. Years from now, when those lessons have paid off, the regrets you cling to now will look small next to the security that you're just now starting to build. Keep the big picture in mind and keep working.