The last two weeks have been a sports fan’s dream – March Madness has lived up to its name! And if you filled out a bracket (or two, or three), we know you’ve been doing a lot of “scoreboard watching:” Which team is winning? Losing? Who’s making a comeback? Is there an upset alert?

And it makes sense you enjoy this. Our country is obsessed with competition. This mentality is indelibly engrained in the American way of life. There’s an inherent desire in most Americans to “beat the other guy” and be the best. Everything is a horse race. But if you’re using that same mindset for your investments, it’s a bad sign. It means you really don’t get the whole point of long-term investing.

For example, do you constantly think about trying to “beat the market?” Or maybe you’re someone who compares how your investments are doing with someone else’s, like your friend’s or neighbor’s. Or perhaps you judge your own investment performance against how the S&P 500 (an index of the country’s 500 biggest companies) is performing.

Here’s the thing, though: you need to focus on you and your long-term goals. That’s it. Saying things like, “I’m trying to beat the stock market” shows you’re only focused on short-term goals. It reveals that, in your mind, there are only two outcomes: if you beat the market you “win,” and if you don’t beat the market you “lose.” You also shouldn’t care how your investments stack up against your friend’s or neighbor’s since the three of you probably have vastly different goals and lifestyles. And if you’re comparing your investment performance to the S&P 500’s, you’re comparing apples to oranges – you hopefully have a diversified mix of stocks and bonds, so by definition, you’re not going to get the same return as the S&P 500 since it’s compromised of 100% stock.

Instead, it’s time to realize your success is almost entirely self-defined. This starts with getting a financial plan and getting your “financial number.” This number tells you what return your money needs to earn on an annual basis in order for you to reach your long-term goals. If your plan says you need to get a 5% annual return and you’re reaching that, then that’s all that matters. End of story. You don’t have to care what the S&P 500 is doing, or how your friend’s investments are performing. Having a financial plan allows you to tune out the distractions and stop the urge to constantly compare.

The Simply Money Point

Your investments should not be a competition. Your eyes should be on one prize: achieving your financial number that your financial plan produces for you. So stop all the “scoreboard watching.” Leave that for March Madness.

To get a financial plan for your money, we invite you to speak with our team at Simply Money Advisors.