The Traders Journal

Celebrating An Investor's Obituary


I've begun writing my own obituary.  No worries.  I don’t have any incurable health issues to be concerned about.  It's simply an exercise that I believe will have value and will be beneficial to my investment efforts.  The catalyst for this rather unusual undertaking was James Hagerty's piece in the Wall Street Journal on April 22, 2019.  Hagerty's professional job is to write obituaries about others for the newspaper, and on a lark he decided to write his own.

As I read his article, I began to ask myself the question, "what has motivated me to live the life I am living?" Hagerty writes that the obituaries he writes always attempt to answer three basic questions. What was that person trying to do? Why? And how did it work out?

I think asking these same questions while wearing your investor hat can produce a number of profound insights. We investors all have different motivations because we're all different unique souls. But I've always maintained that if money is your primary motivational driver, your investing efforts will underperform your potential.

In resolving to compose my own obituary I've pledged to set aside fifteen minutes a week to delve into myself and revisit my thinking.  Yes, I'm exploring my own motivations, but I guess I'm writing my own story as well and not leaving it entirely to my family to figure out when I'm gone. I've made choices. I continue to make choices and I am trying to catalogue precisely those choices to better understand my motivations both in life and investing. 

This is not too dissimilar to prize fighters. They are judged by the fights they select almost as much as by those they choose to avoid. We investors must choose wisely in making investments, but we should understand the reasons for doing so — why we chose what we did.  An unwillingness to do so would be like living in a house without windows. 

Not to sound morbid, but I invite you to join me in writing your own investing obituary as you consider the choices you've made and the choices still to make. Sure, you can include some personal tributes, but don't make it all about your victories, triumphs and conquests. Make it something that reveals your motivations. Be humble and include your bungles, botches and blunders as well.  Be brave. Step forward and look in those tough places — your life will get bigger. 

Living and investing with purpose yields the fruits of labor to be proud of. Think of your written obituary as a sort of life recipe. What you do here and now will determine what you leave behind and how you are remembered. It's not good when life ends, but here you get to write the ending!

Seattle-area investors!

Come join me at next month's MoneyShow here in downtown Seattle, where I'll be speaking.


Trade well; trade with discipline!
Gatis Roze, MBA, CMT

Gatis Roze
About the author: , MBA, CMT, is a veteran full-time stock market investor who has traded his own account since 1989 unburdened by the distraction of clients. He holds an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, is a past president of the Technical Securities Analysts Association (TSAA), and is a Chartered Market Technician (CMT). After several successful entrepreneurial business ventures, Gatis retired in his early 40s to focus on investing in the financial markets. With consistent success as a stock market trader, he began teaching investments at the post-college level in 2000 and continues to do so today. Learn More
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