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Why I Stopped Trying to Change Others

I often receive emails from readers asking how I can help them change their financial lives, change how they manage their money, change how they make their investment decisions…basically change how they behave with money.

Then, someone recently wrote to me…

I don’t believe what you write makes sense for people, as there is nothing called as long term investing. You can only make money in the stock market in the short term because, as Keynes said, in the long term everyone is dead.

So your effort of changing how I, or anyone else, invest seems an exercise in futility.

You see, when people ask me how I can help ‘change’ them, or when this gentlemen wrote how my efforts to ‘change’ people is futile, I assume they are talking about modifying their thinking, attitudes, habits, beliefs, behaviours and thus outcomes.

———- Art of Investing Workshop in Bangalore & Chennai ———
Safal Niveshak’s Investing Workshop travels to Bangalore (18th Jan. 2014) and Chennai (19th Jan.). If you are interested to attend, please register here.

As I have realized over the years, from my experience and that of others, trying to change another person is generally an exercise in futility and frustration.

So while I disagree to what this gentleman who sent me the above mail says about long term investing, I agree to him when he says that the idea of ‘changing’ people is futile.

But I have known this fact ever since I started the Safal Niveshak initiative.

I can never change how you save money, or whether, you save money.

I can never change the way you make your investment decisions.

I can never change how you pick your stocks – through hot tips or independent research.

Yes, I can influence and affect people but the only person I can really change is me…myself.

In the same way, the only person you can change is you…yourself.

No matter how insightful or relevant my message might be, my honest motives will only produce a negative outcome if my audience isn’t looking or asking for help, advice, feedback and input.

Telling the fat guy that he needs to lose some weight, or the broke that he needs to get his money behaviour right, when he hasn’t solicited an opinion, will rarely produce a positive response…no matter how ‘right’ the message might be.

The past 2.5 years of teaching, coaching and mentoring people – through my Investing Workshops and through this site – has taught me that people will listen, learn, respond, and change their behaviour “only” when they’re genuinely ready and willing.

As a teacher, I can just invite you to read what I have to say, I can provoke you to take an action for the betterment of your financial life, and I can challenge you to take your first or next step towards financial freedom.

Basically, I can just be a catalyst to your own learning curve.

I can provide you with the tools of techniques of picking up stocks effectively. I can warn you against the pitfalls of human behaviour that can hurt your investment decisions. I can share with you the practical steps of achieving financial nirvana.

But I can never change how you actually behave well and invest better, till you are ready and willing to change yourself.

It’s only when you seek ways to better yourself, when you resolve to do the best you possibly can, honestly, the universe conspires to help you. All you need do is to show the willingness, to act on the willingness, making use of the little resources you have at your disposal.

Yours is to do the seeking, and the finding becomes very easy.

As a wise man said, it’s only when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.

Art of Investing Workshop in Bangalore & Chennai: Safal Niveshak’s Investing Workshop travels to Bangalore (18th Jan. 2014) and Chennai (19th Jan.). If you are interested to attend, please register here.

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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.


  1. Well said, Vishal!! You keep up the good work!! Ignore such critics of Value Investing!

  2. Very well said Vishal. Infact, I completely agree with your thoughts as I am also in the same profession. You can only bring horse to the pond but you can’t make him drink water. Keep doing good work. We really requiry honest and persistent professionals like you in this industry.

  3. Hi Vishal,

    It’d be good to see the detailed agenda of the workshop so that one can understand more about the workshop before deciding whether to register for it…. Could you send me the details?

    • Dear Bharat, as I have mentioned on the Workshop page, among other topics, it includes…

      1. Core ideas on money and investing, including asset allocation
      2. Creating the mindset of a successful investor
      3. Psychological & emotional behaviour to avoid while investing
      4. Art of picking the right stocks in a simple, sensible way
      5. Understanding key numbers to analyze business quality
      6. Valuations, using an example
      7. Key investing ideas that can make you a successful investor
      8. Creating a personal financial roadmap

      Hope this helps. Regards.

  4. Dear Vishal,
    I have been reading your blog almost a year now and i need to really thanks to you from bottom of my heart for valuable information you are sharing with fellow investors,

    If some one is saying you are wasting your time, please ignore him. This person either not happy what he is doing or not happy what you are doing (of educating people about investment).

    I have been doing value investment and long term investment since last 4 years and in this tenure i have met at least 40 people who criticized me about my thinking whenever i used to discuss with them. But i used to ignore them and when i look back i thank to myself to stick to my ideas and thinking which rewarded me in a great way.

  5. Hello Vishal ji & other tribesmen,
    In one of the motivational… anthony robbins….he has mentioned that when the student(fellows like me and other tribesmen) is ready the teacher (Vishal ji or some other learned men…or the internal conscious of an individual) will appear.
    Like Arjuna seeked…..the wisdom of lord Krishna… the nut shell means..he and his mind were ready….for the transformation…..
    As its always said..and is also proved..that development or growth of an individual is inside out…and not otherwise……………and to this I would like to add…….”the first key to development is to accept…that I don’t know this / that thing or this habbit of mine is not good….”. if we can do this..half battle is won.
    One very good example I want to quote,” In the recent assembly elections….some parties fared well…and for some results….were disastorous…..” …but later parties are not ready to accept….so obviously they won’t improve..from what they are right now….. 


  6. As they rightly said , you can take the horse to the pond, you CANNOT make the horse drink from the pond. This sums life for the majority of us and infact if many parents would abide by this fact of life, it would result in a much more pleasurable learning experiences for both parties instead of going through the angst and the emotional upheaval.

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