Marathon lessons for Portfolio Management

Yesterday I ran the Standard Chartered Marathon. Maybe I used the wrong verb – I walked much more than I ran. However, there were some lessons. I had done the marathon in 155 minutes in the previous year (year 2008) and set myself a target of 145 minutes for this year’s marathon. However my sincierity towards the goal was missing. In short it was a dream, not a goal. Actual time taken was 165 minutes, if not more.

What went wrong:

1. there was no goal (it has to be written down)

2. Not enough practice (never bought a stop watch, so frankly do not know whether it could be done at least in a practice session)

3. Did not set myself any rewards for reaching the goal (and I thought I was at the top of Maslow’s pyramid)

4. Self prophesising statements to myself (It does not matter, I just want to complete it, I am not competing, At my age completing is winning…..etc. a million times) so the mind took the cue to the body.

5. A little ill (maybe 10% of the underperformance can be attributed to this). The illness was obviously caused by my own ‘lack of goal’ – or I should have taken care not to harm my body just before the race by being careless in what i ate and what i drank!

However lessons for the 2010 marathon have been learnt, I presume!

Lessons for portfolio management from the Marathon lessons:

1. The most important requirement is the written down goal statement – which should make you create an “investment philosphy statement” as the starting point of all investments.

2. If you are running a 21000 metre race, it does not matter how you run the first 100 metres or the last 100 metres. The total duration taken is what matters.

3. If you have a dream and are serious about it, write it down and make it into a goal

4. Work on the goal, and track your performance.

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