Anyone who has been around our community for any length of time will have heard us talk about the value of having a long term vision of what your ideal life would look like. The reason for this is that we, as people, need to be drawn towards what we desire as opposed to running away from what we don’t. In other words, we need to put the law of attraction to work for us, and to do this we need to focus on what we want rather than what we don’t want.
The other essential thing about a large, long term vision is that it will keep us moving forward through the inevitable obstacles that will appear in our way. Imagine traveling across a plain strewn with massive boulders: if what you are heading for isn’t much bigger than the boulders, you will quickly give up because it is no longer in sight. Imagine, however, that your destination is a mountain instead of a hillock: how much easier is it now to keep heading in the right direction? It all comes down to having a powerful, long term vision, and then working out what you need to do to get there: this is something that should be taught, in my opinion, in acting schools year one, because it is so critical to artistic success.
When it comes to investing, the same thing applies. From 1977 to 1990 Peter Lynch, arguably one of the greatest investors of all time, increased the value of the mutual fund he was in charge of (the Fidelity Magellan Fund) from $20 Million to $14 Billion, recording an average 29% annual growth, and providing one of the most lucrative investment vehicles of the century. Yet, when he looked back at his numbers, he saw the most disturbing and peculiar thing: the majority of investors in his fund actually lost money.
How is this possible? For people that rode this wave, the value of their money was doubling every 2 ½ years: investors should have been ecstatic, and yet most people who bought Fidelity stock lost money on the deal. Why? Because, as Lynch himself found out, people would jump in and buy after good quarters – when the stock price was up a bit – and then sell when the quarterly reports did not look so rosy. They were, in actuality, buying high and selling low, something that any high school student with a modicum of financial education could tell you was a bad idea.
So what was the motivating factor behind that type of panic buying and selling? Fear. The same thing that keeps us locked into situations long after they have become untenable, or at jobs because “better the devil you know”, will kill any possibility of success, either financial or in our acting career. People would look at the short term results and either get excited and buy, or get scared and sell. This type of approach to anything, let alone investing, will crush you. As Lynch himself says:
“…stocks are relatively predictable over twenty years. As to whether they’re going to be higher or lower in two to three years, you might as well flip a coin to decide.”
The same comment might well be made about our artist development, or our job prospects: we might be up some years, and down others, but as long as we have the right mentality – and by that I mean long term thinking – we will see steady progress. It used to drive me nuts in LA when I would hear people say “I’m going to give this acting thing a try for a few months, see how it works out”. I wanted to slap them and say “It takes years to build an acting career, not months, so why not take yourself back to wherever it is you came from, and stop giving the rest of us a bad rep!” You would never stop painting because you didn’t sell a piece, nor would you quit acting school because you didn’t have an audition for a couple of weeks. What keeps us going through these situations is our long term vision of what our artistic goals are: the same thing will keep us going towards our financial goals as well.