Timing Isn’t Everything (In Life or Investing)

Timing Isn’t Everything (In Life or Investing)

Timing isn’t everything

Why do we trick ourselves into thinking we have to wait until the timing is right? Whether we’re talking about something monumental like a career change or following a passion, or something a bit less dramatic (but just as life-changing) like creating a budget or simply opening an investment account, we almost always feel like the timing has to be just right. We want to wait until all the stars are perfectly aligned before we make our move. But, in reality, the conditions we’re looking for rarely materialize. When time is our most limited resource, why do we spend so much of it being hesitant, questioning ourselves, and worrying about what other people might think?

What’s Holding Us Back?

I’m certainly not an expert on the human mind (not even close actually), but if I had to venture a guess, I’d say that most people believe waiting for the right moment helps reduce the amount of risk they’re taking. Most of us believe that if we wait until some arbitrary criteria we’ve set has been met, our chance of success will be far greater than it would be otherwise. To an extent, I actually agree with this logic. You probably shouldn’t try to start a business without a plan in place or without creating a safety net for your personal financial situation in case something goes awry (always keep Murphy’s Law in mind). However, I think a lot of the time the criteria we select can deter us from even starting in the first place.

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There comes a point when we have met all the necessary prerequisites, but we continue to add new “musts” to our lists before we’ll let ourselves begin. I think one interesting way to look at this predicament is by comparing us following our passions to writing a term paper in school. Honestly, we’ll do just about anything to avoid starting that paper. We’ll make sure we have a dozen perfectly sharpened pencils, organize our desk drawers just in case we need to dig out some obscure and truly unnecessary supplies, or deep-clean the entire bathroom until every surface shimmers. While procrastination is common in both scenarios, it’s clearly present for completely different reasons.

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In the case of the term paper, the procrastination ensues from a feeling of dread. I don’t know that I’ve ever met someone that wrote papers for a hobby. For most of us, that’s something we would only do if we had to. Instead of starting on the paper, most of us would probably look for just about any distraction to delay writing that first word (and a lot of us would even go as far as creating a distraction that didn’t previously exist).

In the case of following our passions and desires, there is honestly just one thing I can think of that would deter us from making the leap: fear. Whether it’s the fear of failure, the fear of being judged, or the fear of the unknown, there’s no denying that fear is both a powerful motivator and demotivator. It has both the power to coax us to carry on obediently and the power to stop us dead in our tracks.

If You Are Scared to Do It, Do It Scared

I heard an incredibly simple quote recently that really resonated with me and I hope that it has a similar impact on you. It read “if you are scared to do it, do it scared” (thanks for introducing me to the quote @budgetqueen_blog). I love this quote because it takes the one thing that’s holding most of us back and shoves it right in our faces. It takes away the single excuse that most of us fall back on.

I hope that this quote helps shift your mindset too, even just a little bit. We naturally seem to prepare for the worst outcome when we put ourselves out there, so feeling scared is absolutely understandable. These simple words help us realize that if we don’t let ourselves try, we’ll continue to add unneeded items to our list of prerequisites and we’ll keep letting precious time pass by, like grains of sand trickling through an hourglass.

Time in the Market vs. Timing the Market

Even when it comes to personal finance and investing, an adage that you’ll often hear thrown around is “it’s about time in the market, not timing the market.” This phrase exemplifies the idea that when it comes to success from an investing perspective, one of the most important aspects is time. Yes, the mantra of investing is to buy low and sell high, but in practice it’s impossible to fulfill that criteria with every purchase and sale since the future of the stock market is inherently unpredictable. Instead, controlling the amount of time your money is investing is something you have direct and absolute control over and it has a significant impact on investing results.

I probably see this phrase at least three times every week when I’m scrolling through my Instagram feed (the #debtfreecommunity and #financialindependence community love to post about this). The reason that it’s so prevalent is because it’s mostly true. While I’m not going to dig around on the internet for the exact data and create an infographic to prove my point (mostly because I procrastinated a bit with this blog post; ironic, huh?), there are some great resources out there that back the statement up. If you want to check a couple of them out, read this article from Investopedia or this study done by Capital Group. Both of the pieces illustrate how powerful time in the market truly is.

Your Thoughts

While I want you to understand that time is one of the most crucial controllable variables in the equation for investing and financial success, there is a much bigger picture to look at here. If you take away nothing else from this post, I hope that it allows you to give yourself permission to do that thing you’ve been putting off, to chase that vision you have, or to follow that passion that’s burning within you.

If you have any suggestions for future blog posts or questions about your financial situation, please use the Your Thoughts page to reach out.

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If you’ve ever been curious about what I’m looking for when I make an investment, check out the What’s in Stock series. Through eight weeks, the What’s in Stock picks have increased our annual dividend income by over $585!

To make sure you don’t miss out on any new videos, be sure to subscribe to the Nicholl for Your Thoughts YouTube channel and enable your notifications!

Your thoughts are worth more than a penny.

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