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How to Automate Your Stock Investing

Andrew is a self-educated business owner and entrepreneur with plenty of free advice (which is worth exactly what you pay for it!).


Relying on Mental Toughness is Crap

If you start thinking about the best way to ensure that you do the right thing when you're supposed to, you might conclude that willpower has a lot to do with whether or not you follow through at the right time. Mental toughness is certainly like a muscle: you can strengthen your resolve over time by practicing a little every day, and you certainly can do a better job with resisting temptation and jumping through your own preset hoops. On the other hand, muscles get tired over time, and with enough use, they stop performing quite as well. Imagine resolving to eat cleanly and improve your dietary habits, but having a bag of Oreos and some Doritos in the front of your cabinet. If you're a fan of Pareto's Principle, you know that the overwhelming majority of the progress you make (or goals you accomplish) are likely to come from a very small amount of effort. Is there a way we can use mental jiu jitsu here, and apply minimal energy for maximum effect?

Reconditioning Yourself

In Atomic Habits, James Clear makes it... well, clear... that the best way to improve your daily habits is by tapping into your brain's system of rewarding you. Scroll down your social media feed and feel a little reward whenever someone likes one of your posts? That's dopamine, and it's a powerful driver of your behavior. If you're like almost everyone, without thinking about it, you'll often get your phone out and start mindlessly scrolling down a feed of some kind, looking for that tiny reward. The effect of this conditioning has been understood for years by marketers and social media network software engineers, and achieving the desired user behavior is all-important: the more time you spend scrolling, the more ads you can be sold, and the more data the social media site or app will get from you. This is an embedded behavior that is an incredibly powerful habit-creating and reinforcing machine.

Your brain is very likely to drive your unconscious behavior toward wherever you get the biggest dopamine hits, and this reward is already baked in on social media. if you could only hone this principle and apply it toward, say, buying and selling stocks, you could reprogram your mind to seek this type of reward. That's more or less what I've been able to do over the past couple of years, ultimately reconditioning myself so that I seek out the process of researching new stocks. Buying a stock I've found that's cheap is now akin to a like, and maybe selling is like a share: both provide a great reward that makes the patient, tedious work well worth doing.


Trick Yourself Into Enjoying Investing

In short, you don't want to do the right thing, as much as you want to make the right thing insanely easy to do, and you want to reward yourself for doing the right thing. If your goal is to enjoy investing, try correlating your investing activity with a good experience you already appreciate: enjoy a warm cup of coffee or a snack, or a relaxing activity you don't get to do often any time you're doing investing activities. If you begin to look forward to researching, you'll start to feel weird if you skip a day. Make sure the resources you need are well beyond accessible: it needs to be harder not to do the work than just to do it. Bookmark the websites you use when doing your research, and put them front and center on your browser's toolbar. Keep your email inbox free so that when your investing news comes in, you read it. Keep investing books by your bed, or wherever you read books. In short, make it easy and rewarding to buy the stocks. Maybe most of all, make it an important part of your daily routine, non-negotiable just like any other recurring obligations on your calendar.

Keep the Big Picture in Mind

Once you've made it insanely easy to do the activities that will help you invest (Danielle Town talks much more about setting up a physical investing space in Invested), you still need to trigger the reward response whenever you buy, sell, or learn. The coup de grâce for me has been always thinking in longer time frames than nearly anyone else thinks. I consider where I'd like my portfolio to be in ten years, and understand that the combination of smaller events like buying, selling, and research is exactly how I'm going to get to where I want to go. Visualize the thousand-mile journey you're on, and realize that your'e making progress every day when you take those small steps all the time. Consistency and reliability applied to a good routine will be the only tools you need to achieve your goals.

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