Posted On Wednesday, Jan 02, 2019
"There can be no room for selfishness, anger, lack of faith or impatience in a pure fast. Infinite patience, firm resolve, single-mindedness of purpose, perfect calm, and no anger must of necessity be there. But since it is impossible for a person to develop all these qualities all at once, no one who has not devoted himself to following the laws of ahimsa should undertake a Satyagrahi fast." One hundred and fifty years after his birth, the echo of the Mahatma's words may have dimmed. However, the impact on those who choose to follow his philosophy remains profound.
The philosophy of fasting calls upon people to look within themselves to become masters of self. To fast is to identify the dependencies within self and to free oneself from the shackles of these dependencies. Instead of looking outside of ourselves and counting potential enemies, fasting summons us to turn our glance inward, and to take the measure of our greatest challenge: the self, the ego, in our own eyes and as others see us. This is why fasting is not only a part of worship, but is also considered a great instrument for self-discipline. It is a training of the mind to endure hardships, weather all storms and to persevere under difficulties and not give up.
Modern Day Fasting in the Investment World
Fasting is in a way inculcating the discipline to abstain. An investor is regularly confronted with a melee news flows, analysis and “good faith” advise. An astute investor should maintain a safe distance from all this information overload. This is abstinence in another form. However, it is not easy to drown out the noise. It is only through discipline and an unwavering focus on portfolio goals that an investor can parse through market noise without reacting to each one of it. Fasting gives us the discipline to stick to our goals even at the time when the goal looks like a mammoth task.
Don’t succumb to temptation
In the stock markets, everyone has a “hot tip” and many recommendations come packaged as the next sure thing. Emulating stories of success often seem like the best way to “get rich quick”. However, a disciplined investor should turn away from the temptation of investing in fleeting stories and instead stay focused on her financial plan and assiduously stick to it. Much like fasting and avoiding food, ignoring temptation in the investment world is much easier said than done. Investors need to create a financial plan and make investment decisions that best adhere to this financial plan.
Curb emotional bias
Traditional finance theory postulates that equity markets are efficient and that all investors are rational. What this basically means is that all investors are capable of taking unbiased and rational decisions. However, this is far divorced from reality. Investors can infact be completely irrational while making investment decisions and are often unduly influenced by their experience and biases. It requires resolve and commitment to one’s goals to both recognise and then eliminate these biases.
Fasting requires a great deal of discipline and personal grit. Gandhiji used fasting as a tool to achieve his goals. For him, it was more of a means to an end. Similarly, for investors, discipline becomes a potent tool. One, which yielded persistently, can help investors achieve their goals. Another means to achieving the end goal of financial freedom.
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