What I Learned From an Investing Sabbatical

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Over the past two years, my wife and I have made a series of life decisions that have prevented us from settling in any one location. The traveling we've done has been great, but it's no substitute for feeling rooted within one's community. We're currently on our third city in as many years.

Since this semi-nomadic lifestyle began, investing has come to occupy more and more of my time -- in fact, it's been one of the few constants. There's nothing inherently wrong with that, but without a physical community to call myself a part of, the life I've been living hasn't yielded what I've hoped for.

So after a decade away from the game, I decided this spring it was time to start coaching high school football, a sport I played through college. Two-a-days started two weeks ago and -- coupled with a wedding and a couple of family reunions -- I figured now was the perfect time to take a mini-sabbatical from all things investing.


Over that time, I've realized a couple lessons that other over-stimulated, investing-focused individuals like myself might benefit from hearing out loud.

Among them:

  • It seems that every other financial headline foretells impending doom and gloom. In the real world, normal life continues on as usual -- without skipping a beat.
  • Most people don't care whether stocks went up or down today -- a very healthy attitude.
  • The market will keep humming whether you're there or not; and you have little sway over its movements.
  • Peter Lynch quit his mutual fund job because -- as he put it -- "I was seeing Sallie Mae in my dreams, and my wife, Carolyn, and I had our most romantic encounters as we met coming in and out of the driveway." Even one of the greatest investors of our time knew when his life was out of whack.
  • It's much easier to be a buy-to-hold investor when you live below your means and only occasionally check on how your portfolio is doing.

Invest? Why invest?
I would like to believe that, for myself, the chief reason to invest is to allow my family to live the lives we desire without having financial anxiety impinge on our ability to appreciate our varied experiences. And for those who want to accomplish the same thing, I can only hope the Fool's advice helps in that regard.

Notice, though, that you need a "life" which has "varied experiences" to make investing worth it. Making money and investing alone isn't enough to qualify for either of these.

In fact, an Australian nurse who caters to those on their deathbeds made a list of the five greatest regrets she most commonly heard:

  1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  2. I wish I hadn't worked so hard.
  3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

Notice that none of these deal with investing or even money. Clearly, if investing is to be a worthwhile pursuit, our lives need to be worthwhile as well.

In the end, I actually think Foolish colleague Jeff Fisher put it best when he said that finances are important, "only because you probably don't want your main focus during your time here to be money. You want your finances to be sensible, sustainable, provide for you and your family, and not worry you much (some worry is hard-wired in all of us). Period."

If you'd like access to a special free report to help you accomplish your own investing goals, I suggest checking out: "3 Dow Stocks Dividend Investors Need." The report will quickly highlight three well-known companies for the buy-to-hold investor's portfolio -- companies with the type of financial fortitude that will make it easy to focus on the more important parts of life. Get your copy of the report today, absolutely free!

The article What I Learned From an Investing Sabbatical originally appeared on Fool.com.

Fool contributorBrian Stoffelcoaches freshman football for Evanston Township High School in Evanston, Illinois. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days.

Copyright © 1995 - 2012 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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