There's a fair amount of luck involved in investing. However, a lot of your success (or failure) as an investor also comes down to the habits you form with regard to managing your portfolio.
There's no foolproof rulebook, but if you want to set yourself up to be a successful investor, these five habits certainly can't hurt!
1. Define Your Investment Outlook
Too often we separate investments into "short-term" and "long-term" plays, but fail to delve into what exactly those distinctions mean. Really, the terms short- and long-term are completely relative, and might mean different things to different people. This is why one list of habits of successful investors mentions learning how to define long-term as an important step. I'd expand on that to just say it's important to learn to define your investment outlook from a timing perspective. Are you looking at short or long plays? What do those terms mean to you? Is "long" one year or ten? Figuring out how to ask and answer those questions of yourself is one of the most effective ways to lay a foundation for your investing strategy.
2. Learn To Diversify
Particularly for beginner investors, diversification can be a tricky hurdle to clear. Your instinct will almost certainly be to invest in what you feel you know, be it a given company or even a whole industry with which you have some familiarity. That's all well and good, but cramming a whole portfolio into a single industry can be a recipe for disaster. It's important to learn the value of diversification early on, and to form a habit of looking for similar investments (in terms of risk/reward and money put in) in different, unrelated stocks. The idea is that one crashing has no influence on the others and the likelihood of a net loss is decreased.
3. Practice Constant Education
As this article on the traits of successful investors put it, the best defense against simple mistakes is education. Often, beginner investors believe that education happens before a portfolio is opened, and from that point forward it's simply about managing investments. But the truth is the more you can learn - about the market itself, the companies you invest in, or general investing strategies - the more effective you'll be in managing your portfolio. Wise investors know that education is continuous, so it's good to get in the habit of dedicating a little bit of time each week to studying the market.
4. Adhere To Limits
It's commonly recommended that investors form plans regarding upper and lower limits for when they'll pull out of investments. This list of additional habits of highly effective traders called it the worst mistake investors make to buy high and sell low. It can be very frustrating and can indeed go against every instinct you have, but generally speaking it's best to avoid this kind of mistake by falling into the habit of adhering to strict limits. By checking yourself with predetermined limits you're effectively taking emotional reactions out of the equation.
5. Roll With the Punches
Here's a nasty (but completely ordinary) little truth a lot of beginning investors aren't ready to accept: at some point you're going to make a bad move, or get very unlucky. The stock market is volatile, and no one navigates it perfectly. One of the most important habits an investor can develop is an ability to accept that there will be some losses and frustration. This allows you to persevere in a logical manner rather than pull out your money or start making risky decisions to make up for a loss.
Practice these five habits and you'll be setting yourself up to become a successful investor.