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Rules for Successful Investing: It Takes Hard Work

Treat Investment Like a Sports Competition: You Need Sacrifice, Dedication, Focus, and Time

We have said before that investing and sports have many parallels, and that is especially true when we are talking about tackling long-term investment goals. Attaining them is like reaching for the pearls of great price — you’re striving incredibly hard to reach for something that is highly valuable. 

No, it’s not easy. 

Yes, it’s worth the effort.

As a basketball coach, I refuse to let my players be satisfied with anything other than their best effort, and this means giving 100 percent on the court on game day and on every training day. We all know that the champion is almost always the one who works the hardest with the fewest mistakes — this sort of dedication means forgoing other pleasures so you can be the team to cut down the net after the championship game.

Dedication on the hardwoods is similar to dedication to your retirement and your investment. Let’s look closer at the key traits you need to succeed as you invest for long-term financial wealth.

Four Rules for Investment Success


Succeeding in sports requires strength and skill. Succeeding at investing requires similar traits. You must work at it regularly, recognize your weaknesses, capitalize on your strengths, and learn from your mistakes.


You can’t be a star player if you spend all your time watching television. And you can’t be a good saver for retirement if you spend your earnings on gourmet coffees, vehicles you can’t afford, or vacations that blow your budget. To maximize your retirement savings, you need to sacrifice today by curtailing spending and putting that money to work for you.


Star players don’t train hard one week and then slack the next — they train hard, almost every day, and reshape their lives around their pursuit of success. Use this same line of thinking for your investing — you need to regularly assess your savings, your investments, your goals, and your successes and failures, then adjust your current activities accordingly.


Winning teams lose games, and smart investors suffer setbacks. The key to success is not letting small failures derail your long-term plans. Miss an easy shot? Get up, dust yourself off, and get back in the game! Lose money in investment? Take a moment to reflect, see what learnable points there are, and apply what you have learned. Good players don’t quit if they drop a pass, and good investors don’t pull their money out of an investment if it has a bad day.

Play the Game on Your Terms So You Can Retire the Way You Want

Smart athletes play their own game, utilizing their talents while picking up cues from their adversaries along the way. Smart investors know when and how much to sacrifice to reach their long-term savings goals.

No one was born a great athlete — they earned it over years of hard work, long days, focused training, smart nutrition, active research, and taking the time to listen while also being able to keenly understand their strengths and limitations.

The same sorts of qualities are vital to possess for those who are investing for financial stability and their future retirement. These long-term investors will understand clearly that patience is a virtue, and this is particularly true when it comes to investing. They will have a thirst for knowledge, both about the investment tools they are relying on and about current trends in the market, from new tax environments to emerging market opportunities. They will have the willingness to ask for help, especially from those who are also leaders when it comes to investment. They will have a certain degree of confidence but they will also keep their emotions in check — this is particularly important when faced with sudden bad news such as an economic downturn or a steep market loss. And they will remain laser-focused on their goals each and every day so they can ensure that everything they do gets them closer to realizing success at the final bell.

*David R. Guttery, RFC, RFS, CAM, is a financial advisor and has been in practice for 31 years. He is the president of Keystone Financial Group in Trussville, Ala. David offers products and services using the following business names:  Keystone Financial Group – insurance and financial services | Ameritas Investment Company, LLC (AIC), Member FINRA / SIPC – securities and investments | Ameritas Advisory Services – investment advisory services.  AIC and AAS are not affiliated with Keystone Financial Group. Information provided here is gathered from sources believed to be reliable; however, we cannot guarantee their accuracy. This information should not be interpreted as a recommendation to buy or sell any security. Past performance is not an indicator of future results.

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