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What Is the Common Denominator?

I understand that markets like we are seeing right now can be nervewracking for investors.  You know the value of the money you have, and it can be hard to watch it go down.

The first thing to remember is that we have to focus on what we can control.  You and I don't have any influence over the market.  We do have influence over how much money we invest, what we invest in, and when we do it.

Investing is planning ahead, making calculated decisions.  Trading outside of your carefully thought out investment plan is reacting with your emotions.  This is why we do a thorough risk assessment at the beginning of our time in the market, and do regular reassessments during the investment period.

There is always a short term risk and a long term risk if you have money in the stock market.  Making money in the market for most of us is not about market timing, it's about how much time we spend in the market.  That's a critical thing to understand:  for most of us, if we are invested in accordance with our risk tolerance, then large fluctuations like we've seen recently will not worry us.  We're in it for the long term.  Remember, the more you have in the market, the more you have to lose...but the more you have to gain.

What is the common denominator among "regular" people who achieve their long term investment goals?  They are consistent in their investing principles.  They are consistent in applying those principles, regardless of the timing.  They remember their starting balance, and the length of time they are investing that balance.  They don't sweat the small stuff.