Do What’s Necessary, Not What You Can

What you can do and what you should do are clearly not the same things.

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Perhaps you can run a marathon each day for a month solid. Good for you.

Should you? Probably not.

Perhaps you could attend a conference in your chosen area of interest every month of the year.

Should you? Probably not.

My kids often ask my wife and I, “Can you do X for me?” More often than not my answer is no!

What we can do for them is not necessarily what we should do for them.

We know that it’s a bad idea to be doing things for people who can do those things themselves but are merely being lazy (and for those of you with kids, you’ll know these critters will take advantage anyway they can. But be careful. So can adults).

Sometimes we should be selfish.

One thing I’ve cocked up in the past is doing many “what I can things” — which inevitably means the “what I should do things” — either don’t get sufficient attention or don’t get done at all.

That’s no good for anyone, least of all me.

I believe the same is true in investing. There are, at any given point in time, dozens of sectors we can dig into, hundreds of thousands of companies, dozens of currencies, and so forth. Just because you’ve the skills to dig into them all doesn’t mean you should.

I’m not sure I’ve the answers and I’ve never met anyone who does, but focusing on the above — namely what’s necessary and what we should be looking at rather than what we can be looking at — has certainly helped me to be better at navigating what is an incredibly complex world.

I’m curious what tools or strategies others find useful. Let me know in the comments below.


“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” — Francis of Assisi


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