This is a very difficult post to write because I cannot find a starting point to build about it, a structured way to describe it and how to finish it. Yet, ironically, this is regarding training one’s train of thought, where it is supposed to be a (sort of) structured way of organizing the flow of ideas, concepts, realizations, etc., and come up with a conclusion, or a mental springboard to the next idea, concept, realization, etc.
The train of thought for one person is vastly different with another’s, and this is because we are all different. Inherently we have different personalities and characteristics, and from them we have different biases, viewpoints, opinions, etc. of an object, issue, topic, etc. which are presented to us. This led to why trains of thought are very much varied across people.
Since this is an investment blog, I will scope this train-of-thought discussion to it. Here are three ways (my opinion) on how to train your train of thought:
Way #1: Unlearn What You Have Learnt
Borrowing the words from a little old green alien from a popular science fiction soap opera series, the process of unlearning what you have learnt is to flush away whatever biases, viewpoints and opinions on the field of investing. This is applicable especially for newbies as there might be some myths being attached to their impression of investing, but seasoned investors can also occasionally do this “self-cleansing”, too. For me, I do go back and read up basic investment books to relearn and reinforce my knowledge, and sometimes I gain “a-ha!” moments from these readings.
Way #2: Know More
There are many ways to know more. We have online and offline resources such as books, forums, videos, chat groups, etc. You can also know more from in-person engagements like seminars, gatherings, focus groups, etc. The gist of knowing more is to absorb as much knowledge as possible, and this will benefit not just your investment but in general knowledge, too (and possibly more “a-ha!” moments like in Way #1). With this “knowing”, you can apply it to your many facets in life (and yes in investing, too), which I call it contextualization of one knowledge domain onto another. For example, my post on “Battlefield Lessons On Investing”, I applied World War 2 history into the field of investing. Another example is associative investing1 in which you make use of the interdependent relationships between sectors and industries to form an investment decision, and better knowledge of these sectors/industries are advantageous.
One concern which I know most people would bring up on Way #2 is “information overload”. Since we are at the information age (and there are hundreds of hours of YouTube videos being uploaded every minute), it is understandable to have this issue. For myself, I would “store” non-crucial information at the back of my mind and would practice a “recall” should I encounter it again along my train of thought. If this information is deemed as important to my investment decision, I will read up more about it to have a more informed knowledge.
Way #3: Be Open
Though this way should belong before the other two ways mentioned above, I decided to put it as Way #3 since it is conclusive and can also serve as a beginning (after all, I had declared in the first paragraph that it is already tricky to write this post). By being open, I meant we should be open to all ideas and concepts, and not to impose any restrictions on them, yet. I had received some feedback on not to read a particular person’s books, or to watch a particular person’s investment videos, or not to listen to a particular relative’s/friend’s/acquaintance’s advice, etc. I believe everyone should be given a chance to be read up or heard out, and see if I could glean some useful titbits from what he/she/they are saying and where they are coming from in their trains of thought. If some of the points raised are feasible, I may adopt them to my investment methodology/style/strategy, else I could either take it as non-crucial information for further recall.
It is never easy to change one’s outlook of investing (and life) especially when we have so many biases, viewpoints and opinions already ingrained in us. By following the stated three ways, we could improve for the betterment of ourselves in our trains of thought and at the same time gain copious amounts of information and knowledge. Remember, the greatest hurdle (and enemy) to changing oneself is oneself.
Happy coming holidays!
1 – The Bedokian Portfolio (2nd Ed), p137–138