Choose Your Hard: Embracing the Long Haul in Life and Investing


John Micklitsch, CFA CAIA, President & Chief Investment Officer

Investing, much like life, is a marathon, not a sprint. We are constantly bombarded with messaging promising quick-fixes and instant gratification; diet pills, get-rich-quick schemes and overnight success stories paint a tempting picture. However, the reality is far more nuanced. There are no shortcuts to lasting success, neither in achieving your health goals nor in building a secure financial future. You can build it fast or you can build it well and, as we like to say, you cannot outrun your shadow. If you are taking shortcuts, they will become apparent.

The “Choose Your Hard” concept emphasizes this truth. This idea highlights how every path has inherent challenges. The demanding work required to maintain a healthy lifestyle is undeniable, but so are the consequences of neglecting your health. Similarly, the disciplined approach of long-term investing may seem tedious compared to chasing hot stocks, but the risk of significant losses looms large with the latter. With meme stock surges back in the news recently, it is a suitable time for this reminder as you will undoubtedly hear about somebody, somewhere, who secured their financial future in a mere matter of weeks. The temptation to get there faster explains why, despite overwhelmingly negative odds, there is still a thriving market for lottery tickets. They are about fast over slow. Easy over hard. And while any of these shortcuts are tempting, they are likely to produce what our colleague, Al Miller, refers to as an “abundance of nothing.”

By contrast, Warren Buffett had no illusions of getting rich quickly at the start of his career. He just knew he wanted the independence that would come from a strong financial foundation. With a clear understanding of the power of compounding, Buffett set out on his capital allocation journey and the results are undisputable. Yet, it often comes as a huge surprise to people to learn that over 99% of Buffett’s wealth came after the age of 55, which illustrates the magnitude of what is known as the last double when analyzing compounding rates.

The key to your own journey lies in aligning your choices with your long-term goals. Just as a well-diversified portfolio offers stability and growth potential over time, building a healthy lifestyle requires consistent effort across diet, exercise and sleep. Investing in yourself through education and skill development translates to greater career opportunities and financial security. By embracing the “hard” that aligns with your vision, you are building a solid foundation for the future.

The Choose Your Hard mentality empowers you to take ownership of your unique path, in any endeavor. Temporary discomfort pales in comparison to the satisfaction of achieving your goals through hard work and perseverance. In both life and investing, choosing the hard but sustainable path leads to a more rewarding and secure future.

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