This was another draft that sat in my book waiting for today.
In many cases, I find it very helpful to start fresh from a clean slate. My mother’s strict rules of neatness and cleanliness, or my father’s requirements for order in everything, or some genetic switch someplace on either or both sides of the family tree have resulted in what my wife calls a clear case of OCD. As expected, I am convinced that this need for order is not a disorder (she thought “auditory” as she finished reading that). Below are some examples where I have found this concept very helpful.
In most construction projects, the results are usually dramatically improved when the existing space is demolished, cleared and cleaned before the “new” work begins. But the danger of “sinchyas” is always introduced in these cases. “Sinchya gonna take down the drywall, why don’t you redo the plumbing behind it.” “Sinchya gonna redo the plumbing, get the electrical redone, too.” Assuming scope can be controlled, starting a project from a cleaner slate yields better results. However, in construction there’s also the daily “clean slate.” I cannot end a day without cleaning up the project area, putting everything in its place so that the next morning I can start from a clean slate. With this method, daily progress is very visible and exciting. Once the work completes, the contrast of before and after is part of the return for the hard work.
I have found starting from a clean sheet also very helpful in dealing with markets. Since I am not running a mutual fund, there is no reason why I cannot sell everything and force myself to buy back after a day, or a week, or a month only what makes sense. This cold shower method is the best acid test that I have found for testing my conviction of owning in the first place. Commissions, possible tax implications, possibility of having to buy at a higher price, and a few other issues do not allow this test to be free of charge. However, the alternative of holding possible losers can be even more costly. I have also found this to be a good way to deal with periods of significant uncertainty. Since I’m in no competition with the market, I tend to buy when I am ahead and sell when I am behind. These are two methods of deciding when to sell (sell all, and sell when lagging).
Even in relationships starting from a clean page is sometimes very helpful and enjoyable. Just as Mother Nature has its mechanisms for new starts, so do we. With every new year, new day and new life, we are given new energy, new hope, and new challenges.