Years ago, on vacation in California, I took my family to Disneyland for the day, which included driving north on I-5 from San Diego to Los Angeles.
As we got on the freeway (and this is a busy, multilane highway, as most everyone knows), my young children spotted a car. It was old and the color of canned peas, green with a little tint of yellow, and it looked odd put-puting along—maybe even a little out of place in the brisk traffic. There was a little man, kind of hunched over the steering wheel, driving with the steady but slow traffic in the right lane. They giggled about this funny-looking car, with the funny-looking guy driving it.
Now, I was anxious to get my family to Disneyland as soon as possible, to beat the lines and the crowds. We were excited to get there! Driving as fast as possible, I would move from one lane to the other. I’d surge forward, then I’d get stuck in traffic as the lane slowed and we would come to a standstill. I would then switch lanes, and we would get going again. Then, of course, that lane would stop or slow down, and I would switch again. It was surge and stop all the way to LA. I drove like “Willie the Weaver” all the way there.
Finally, as we neared the exit for Disneyland and I had to cut across lanes to get off I-5, guess what car we pulled up behind as we entered the lane to exit the ramp? It was the pea-green car that had stayed in the right lane the whole time, making steady progress!
This story always stuck with me, partly because I have fond memories of raising my now-grown children, but also because it’s a good analogy for individuals who are always trying to change their investment strategy. Impatiently, they are always looking for the “hot” investment. They invest in the “fast-moving lane,” buying and selling and changing strategies.
The right approach could be called the “pea-green car” approach. Develop an investment plan that is right for you and your journey. Stay the course, making alternations from time to time, but only as necessary or prudent.
If you don’t know how to do this for yourself, you need a fiduciary wealth adviser (or a copy of my book The Eight Points of Financial Confidence) to assist you in creating a diversified mix of holdings you can stick with for the long term, staying in the “right lane” for most of your journey.
Image: I-5 South near San Diego, 2002, http://photography.us.com
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