Jason Zweig writes an excellent column on tying oneself to the mast (as in the above painting) for financial decision making when the alternative is to rely on willpower alone. Many people believe they can maneuver in choppy markets; fully participate in bull runs and get out before markets turn south. Those who force themselves to stay with a process and a plan usually perform better in the long run.
If you aren’t willing to tie yourself to the mast, you almost certainly don’t belong in stocks at all at this point—since the course may well be far rougher in the future than it recently has been. And your willpower, no matter how firm you think it is, will probably fail you when the market takes a bad drop.
As “Adam Smith” said of the stock market in his classic book “The Money Game”: ‘If you don’t know who you are, this is an expensive place to find out.’”