If you make a mistake or if something doesn’t turn out the way you thought it should have, what do you do next? Does the bad result make you think that perhaps you aren’t up to the task? Do you think the cards are stacked against you? Or do you remain confident and move on to the next endeavor unaffected by what just happened? Of course, it is best to move on looking forward with a clear head, but that is easier said than done.
Flush It and Forget It
I’m a sports fan, and this phrase is used by coaches everywhere to get their athletes to focus on the future and not on the past. One manager just used it multiple times in an interview during the recently-completed MLB Playoffs, which is what caused me to think about it in broader terms. You will make mistakes. Something you do will not turn out the way you thought it should have. To be successful in life, even to be able to get up every day and go to work or school or just function in some capacity, you need to develop the ability to move on. Learn from what just happened, of course, but move on nevertheless. “Flush it and forget it” means just what you think it means, in the literal sense.
Moving on after ill fortune could take a number of forms. Let’s take investing as an example. What if you did all of your fundamental financial analysis on a stock and invested at a price that you thought was a good value, but the stock went down? (By the way, this happens all of the time, even to the best). “Flush it” probably means that you should sell the investment and recognize your loss. (I like to sell if the price goes down 10% from where you bought it at). But how do you move on from there? If you are confident in your ability to analyze, then make the same move again on the next stock. If you aren’t confident, then move on by investing in a different way, perhaps by working more closely with a professional adviser or someone else with whom you can develop ideas before putting them to action. Either way, you move on from the bad result.
Hard To Do
It is hard to move on in life after the suboptimal occurs. If yesterday was a bad day at work, it’s hard to get up and want to go back there today – that is, assuming “work” is someplace other than your home office. However, that’s what you have to do in order to earn your paycheck. Moving forward is a learned skill and unfortunately you will likely have a lot of opportunities to learn over the course of your life. Everyone has different ways to move forward, but a common denominator is not to take failure or mistakes too personally. Getting down on yourself will result in a negative attitude and that will result in more failure. Instead, if you can learn not to fault yourself too much and instead blame the fates, then you will be more resilient and in a better frame of mind to undertake the next challenge.
Perhaps this blog is more New Age than most of mine, but the phrase “Flush it and forget it” touches a chord with me. Professional investors are forward-focused in that they buy and sell based on the future prospects of companies. Price/earnings multiples reflect the projected future earnings of companies more than the past performance. Likewise, with your job or with your financial investments and life, you should be future-focused. Dwelling on past mistakes is not healthy and likely will not cause you to achieve your financial goals.