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Fear, Investing and You (Yes, You!)

In the course of my Art of Investing Workshops over the past three months, I have met several tribesmen who are fearful of starting out as investors.

Plus, there are those who have been investors but are extremely fearful of taking their next step, especially given the uncertainty around.

So let me ask you some questions.

  • Are you scared of investing?
  • Scared of losing some money?
  • Or lot of money?
  • Scared of making mistakes?
  • Scared of feeling a jerk knowing that you will make mistakes?
  • Scared knowing that you are not cut out to make money from stock markets?
  • Do you worry a lot when it comes to your money?
  • Do you worry that people will discover how weird you really are with your money?
  • Do you compare your investing abilities to others only to conclude that you’re a freak?

If you answered ‘yes’ to five or more of the above questions, then breathe easy.

You are way more normal than you might have imagined.

Welcome to the tribe! 🙂

Hello, Mr. Fearful!
We’re all scared…of some things…and many things.

I’ve never seen an investor, or any person who has no fear.

Now, a lot of people love me for the fact that I am living a life of my choice. They say how great a decision I made to quit the rat race and do what I am doing today.

Even I love this for a fact. But then, my hindsight vision tells me how lucky I have been.

I still remember the fear-factor I was passing through “while” making the decision to quit and follow my heart.

I still remember that, two years back, fear almost stopped me in my tracks and repeatedly waked me up at night, telling me, “Boss, quitting your job will be a disaster! Don’t do it!”

Now, as I look back to my life, and as I look back to the lives of so many people, like Mr. R.K. Chandrasekhar whom I profiled in my recent post on Safal Niveshak Tribestar, I have realized one very important thing.

It is that, in our life, the issue is not really ‘fear’ but rather, what we do despite it.

We can either get managed by fear, or manage it.

We can either acknowledge fear or fall into an emotional whirlpool.

We can either accept fear or pretend that it doesn’t exist at all.

We can either give up or get up in the face of fear.

Of course, your response to fear will be different than mine, but what will be common between the two of us is fear itself.

Fear is an unavoidable part of being human. It’s a daily reality.

But is fear our real enemy? No!

We have bigger enemies to face off…like procrastination, laziness, giving up, and making excuses to not start something.

Fear is just fear.

Some people mistakenly assume that the courageous person is the one who is not scared of anything.

Well, let me enlighten you. The person who is scared of nothing is an idiot.

Like those you see in MTV Roadies (if you see that junk!). Those young bloods want to get into the limelight by their sheer ability to fear nothing!

You know what? Fear is what keeps us safe at most times in our lives.

As Charlie Munger says, “All I want to know is where I’m going to die so I’ll never go there.”

So only if I am fearful of dying at some place – a business, a stock, a relationship, or anything – I will avoid going there. Better, I will take baby steps to understand that that place is safe and won’t kill me.

So you still need to be fearful. Fear is not an enigma!

But to get over your fears, you need to be courageous.

Now, being courageous is not the same as being fearless.

Being courageous as an investor does not to mean going all out and speculating in derivatives and things you don’t understand.

Being courageous as an investor is not about borrowing money to invest in stocks you think can multiply your wealth.

Being courageous as an investor simply means you get over your fear, and invest your money sensibly. But just do it!

Here is what Steve Jobs said in his remarkable address at Stanford University in 2005…

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.

Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

So the idea is – be fearful, and then be courageous.

When you are starting out as an investor, or looking to make your next decision in life, don’t get paralysed by fear.

Remember, fear will keep you out of harm’s way. All you need to have is the courage to manage it.

Now, nobody can give you the courage. Even if Buddha were sitting right here next to you, he couldn’t give it to you.

You have to practice it and realize it yourself. You have to make a habit of mindfulness practice to get over your fears.

Then, when fear strikes you, you will already know what to do.

You have my best wishes!

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About the Author

Vishal Khandelwal is the founder of Safal Niveshak. He works with small investors to help them become smart and independent in their stock market investing decisions. He is a SEBI registered Research Analyst. Connect with Vishal on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Reni George says:

    The courage to confront ones fears
    To accomplish ones desires and
    Manifest ones goals
    Even in the adversity where others don’t believe as you do
    Following the strength of your heart
    Will retain the flame of your dreams
    When you feel that adrenalin coursing through your body
    And your mind becomes a blur of confusion
    Over coming that fine line of fear
    When droplets of sweat appear on your brow
    And your body temperature begins to rise
    A thought will finally break past uncertainty
    Over coming fear to achieve ones passion
    means never giving up on yourself.

  2. A lot of the world would not exist if it were not for fear. In fact, the world war years are reckoned as the phase of accelerated discoveries and inventions and a lot of these inventions were prompted by deep rooted fear.
    As pointed out by Vishal, fear should be faced and used productively than just fearing fear, because just fearing fear that makes you motionless and you stop acting. Whenever action stops there is stagnancy.
    Uncertainties are the only certainty so we should take life in all its forms viz. fear, greed, humility, passion, love and whatever comes to your mind but be mindful of the wrong paths which we must not tread on.

  3. shankar s says:

    To quote Buffett the trick is not how to stop your knees from knocking while talking but how to talk while your knees are knocking !!

  4. Hi Vishal,
    Im in a very unique situation, as in here is my answer to all your questions mentioned above:
    Are you scared of investing? No
    Scared of losing some money? No
    Or lot of money? No
    Scared of making mistakes? No
    Scared of feeling a jerk knowing that you will make mistakes? No
    Scared knowing that you are not cut out to make money from stock markets? No
    Do you worry a lot when it comes to your money? No
    Do you worry that people will discover how weird you really are with your money? No
    Do you compare your investing abilities to others only to conclude that you’re a freak? No
    Now the point is i earn my money by working and i am very careful while spending it but when it comes to investments i have very high amount of confidence that in the long run i will make decent money if i invest in good quality stocks, i had seen my investment value fall by more than 65-70% and then recover again to marginal profits, and while all this was happening i was investing more money , my question is my method correct or do i need to change my attitude in terms of investments ?

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