Posted on January 12, 2019
Today’s Letter from Grandma Sylvia
Most of us look forward to a new year as a new start with thoughts of new ideas or new ways of living. We look forward to successful days and times, but what is success? What’s the key to success?
The Big Picture
Success in life is a topic that has engaged countless people’s examination over the millennia. As many of you, I’ve thought about it and, despite reading religious and philosophical ideas, I can’t even begin to crystalize my own thinking here. Some people question, at the end of life, what really matters? Is it our character, specific goals achieved, contributions to family and society, a balance in our lives? What does success mean?
In one discussion, I’ve read that success is when we have peace of mind about the past, present, and future and are happy and satisfied with who we are, while challenging ourselves with our goals to be the best we can be.
Yet, to me, success is not only dependent on our own actions, but also on larger forces beyond our control.
Fate or luck plays some role, as with a friend of mine who died of leukemia before graduating from high school.
Time and place play some role, as with people born in war-torn countries, or in poverty or in abusive families.
Perhaps the factors we can influence as well as those we can’t, get summed up in the Chinese Five Blessings:
- Longevity …..A long and blessed life
- Wealth….. Prosperity financially and socially
- Health….. Good health and a peaceful mind
- Virtue …..Good morality
- Natural death….. Peaceful death
In Judaism, a successful life, or one pleasing to God, might be one where the person obeyed the Ten Commandments, and in Christianity, the same idea might also include those who obeyed the New Commandment of loving one another.
Countless books and articles have been written about successful people, successful habits, the psychology of success and so on. Here I’ll simply include a few quotes I like.
Don’t aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally.
Never lose sight of the fact that the most important yardstick of your success will be how you treat other people – your family, friends, and coworkers, and even strangers you meet along the way.
I know of no single formula for success. But over the years I have observed that some attributes of leadership are universal and are often about finding ways of encouraging people to combine their efforts, their talents, their insights, their enthusiasm and their inspiration to work together.
Queen Elizabeth II
Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It’s quite simple, really: Double your rate of failure. You are thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn’t at all. You can be discouraged by failure or you can learn from it, so go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because remember that’s where you will find success.
Thomas J. Watson
There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.
Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right
I never felt that I was a successful investor when my funds were being managed by a financial advisor, yet I have many friends who feel successful that they selected the right financial advisor and then can enjoy the results of that decision. We are each different and may have different outlooks at different times in our lives.
Now I feel successful because I understand my own level of comfort with risk, have weathered several market ups and downs (including recently) and understand that investing in index funds will give me a fair return on my money for the time and energy I want to devote to researching investments.
Other friends are successful because they have made a hobby of the market, study companies, and make selections of individual stocks that serve them well. Of course, they also have ups and downs in their assets, but they have learned that they can manage that and continue the strategies they believe are successful.
Success comes in different sizes and shapes.
Today’s Topic: Success
Who is a successful investor?
I’ve come to believe successful investors are those who understand their own comfort level with risk and have made reasoned decisions on where and how to invest. While that may seem like a fairly broad answer, it does mean that each of us must spend some time understanding what kinds of risks we are willing to take and then make the next level of decision, such as investing on our own or with a financial advisor and what specific investments to make.
One of the most successful investors, who is mentioned time and time again, is Warren Buffett. He is an extremely rare investor, spending his entire career researching and buying individual companies. Most of us do not have that inclination or talent.
However, most of us can be successful if we can save regularly, as soon as we can, and invest our money in low-cost index funds. Investing in index funds is passive, not doing much once you have invested. A statement attributed to Eugene Fama, Nobel prize-winner in economics, is that your money is like soap. The more you handle it the less you will have.
♠ One simple way of being successful in the market is to save as much as you can, as soon as you can, and invest in index funds.
Today is a beautiful day and I’m going to get some outdoor exercise. Wish you were here.