It’s Wednesday morning and time to blog, but I’m frustrated because two of the topics I had in mind are waiting for links to be posted in places and by people that I can’t control. Staring at the screen and hitting Refresh every five minutes is not going to make anything happen sooner, except for being able to produce a headache. Doctor, doctor, it hurts when I do this. Well then, don’t do that. Duh. It intrigues me to watch that lesson go by again because I know that many of my accomplishments were the result of slow and steady efforts. Persistence and perseverance paid.
Sometime today I’ll go for a run. I’m back up to a couple of miles at a time. Some neighbors think I am too fit. My doctor may not agree. I know that I have been in better shape. I’ve run marathons. A regular training run was nine miles. A two mile run feels good, but it also reminds me that I’ve run farther and faster, and may yet again. (Running in this neighborhood is fairly restrictive though, so I’ll use that as an excuse. No shoulders or sidewalks equals a sub-optimal route.) I learned that I didn’t have to make every run an example of optimal performance. Regular exercise eventually prevailed and I could finish 26.2 miles, not quickly, but more than once. (I’m continually amazed at the ultras that I know, the people that run 100 miles. Oy.)
By now you’ve heard about my bike ride across America (Just Keep Pedaling). There again, I wasn’t fast, but I was persistent. My average speed was only 10 miles an hour. I know runners that move that fast. But I kept at it and made it, well there were a couple of breaks in there, but the memory of them fades with time.
I’ve even started meditating again. “Sit this way. Breathe like this.” It is possible to stress out about how to meditate “right”. I even know someone that was upset because someone else was meditating “better” than they were. They’d turned meditation into a competition, and were mad that they were in second place.
I am not a competitive guy. I love dancing, but am not trying to be the best dancer on the floor. Every day I want to be better than I was yesterday, and that’s good enough for me.
Winning a marathon is possible, but improbable. Crossing a continent in record time gets a bicyclist into the book. Is there even a way to measure whether a person has meditated better than some ultimate figure like than the Dalai Lama? Would it matter?
My investing style works the same way. I am not trying to be the best, have the optimally performing portfolio, or have the highest CAPS rating on The Motley Fool. I aim for enough. And I’ve learned that enough can come from slow and steady progress, and that while frantic activity works for some, I have a different comfort zone. If I day traded I’d probably burn out my circuits within a month, regardless of my results.
Pushing is good. Without some effort nothing happens, unless something like gravity gets a chance to work. Just ask Wile E. Coyote. Eerp. A little constant and gentle effort accomplishes a lot, whether that is in training, endurance events, or reaching some financial goal. It makes sense to check if enough progress is being made, because some goals are tied to schedules. Everyone’s portfolio can become worth a million if it’s generating any positive return long enough, but a 20 year old has a better chance than a 50 year old of seeing it happen within their lifetime instead of just as part of their estate.
I’m breathing easier as I run, and am chafing against my locale’s limits, so I know I am progressing. I’m enjoying dance more, and I usually have a full dance card, so I must be doing something right. Even my meditation sessions are easier to fall into and tend to linger longer. My portfolio isn’t moving as quickly as I’d like, but I also know that the companies are doing better and that eventually the stock prices will follow their finances.
So, I guess I’ll take it easy for a while. I’ll practice a bit of karate today (kata is a good thing), which I’ve been doing now for 26 years. I’ve never been as good at it as I would like, though I am better than I was. And when those links are finally posted I’ll write a bit as a way to pass them along. But there’s no rush. Okay Tom, stop typing. Push yourself away from the computer. Easy now. Don’t hurt yourself.