The Long Term Starts Today

Amar Pandit , CFA , CFP

“Invest for the long term” is a mantra that is often repeated.

 “Think long term,” you are told and while this is right, the long term can feel elusive, almost invisible. It’s like trying to envision a distant horizon when all you can see are the waves crashing at your feet. The reality is the long term is a collection of daily short terms. Every day, every decision, every small step contributes to the larger journey.

The key to navigating this journey is understanding that the long term isn’t about one big leap, but a series of small, consistent steps. Each day, as you make decisions about your investments, you’re building towards that long-term goal. It’s the discipline of sticking to your strategy during the market highs and lows that paves the way to success.

This daily approach can be empowering. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by a distant, abstract goal, you focus on what you can control today. Can you contribute a bit more to your retirement fund this month? Can you avoid the temptation to sell during a market dip? Can you invest a bit during this correction? Can you ignore the financial pornography networks? These are the short-term decisions that, when compounded, lead to long-term success.

Consider the story of a gardener planting a tree. The gardener waters it daily, nurtures it, and protects it from pests. The growth of the tree isn’t apparent immediately, but with time, those daily efforts result in a sturdy, tall tree providing shade and bearing fruit. Investing works similarly. The fruits of your labor aren’t always immediately visible, but with consistent effort and patience, the results will come.

Moreover, viewing the long term as a series of short terms can help mitigate the stress and emotional rollercoaster of market fluctuations. By focusing on daily actions and maintaining discipline, you can avoid the pitfalls of reacting impulsively to short-term market movements.

In essence, the long term is not some distant future to be feared or revered. It’s built in the here and now. Every day is a building block. By focusing on these daily actions, staying disciplined, and maintaining a clear strategy, you can make the elusive long term a reality. So, embrace the short terms, and let them collectively lead you to your long-term financial goals.