Long-Term Thinking in Short-Term Panics

It’s never been more difficult to stay focused on the long-term than it is right now. Plugged in, dialed in, comments and opinions, text on a screen, notifications and messages, podcasts and tweets, carried by a wave of online hysteria. Long-term thinking has always been hard, but today, it’s absurdly hard with the number of distractions.

I was looking at a chart of Apple the other day, and well, I zoomed out. Like really zoomed out. What surprised me, was that Apple was trading at all-time highs. A pandemic, a trade war, and the worst economic conditions in recent memory, and yet there’s Apple, sitting at its highest price levels ever. I was so taken back by this that I circled the March 2020 crash in red, the moment when the Coronavirus panic struck. On a long-term chart going all the way back to Apple’s IPO, it can barely be seen:


I don’t know where Apple will go from here. I don’t own any. But I enjoy reflecting on market history and viewing it through charts. The Coronavirus crash will go down as an infamous market moment. If you were there, trading, moving money around, you will probably never forget the surge in volatility and nightly limit down moves. Over the long-term, however, it is so far just a small blip on a chart.

Long-term thinking is hard. Especially in investing. If it were easy, everyone would be millionaires sitting on stacks of perfect investments, never once worrying. Add in today’s news cycle, constant drum of notifications, messages, and everything in-between and it’s impossible to escape the short-term hysteria no matter how severe it is. Only a few are capable of seeing through it, knowing when it’s actually time to run in or run away, and hopefully, over my next 10 years of following markets, I’ll get a little better at understanding the difference.


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