The Greatest Threat to Success is Not Failure But Boredom

April 10, 2020

The greatest threat to success is not failure but boredom. We get bored with habits because they stop delighting us. The outcome becomes expected. And as our habits become ordinary, we start derailing our progress to seek novelty. Perhaps this is why we get caught up in a never-ending cycle, jumping from one workout to the next, one diet to the next, one business idea to the next. As soon as we experience the slightest dip in motivation, we begin seeking a new strategy—even if the old one was still working.


The only way to become excellent is to be endlessly fascinated by doing the same thing over and over. You have to fall in love with boredom.

The above quotes, taken from Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear hit me like a ton of bricks.

If there is one thing that has plagued me over my trading career more than anything else, it is this — the seemingly never-ending cycle of jumping from one trading strategy/product/idea to the next. Mr. Clear blames boredom and that likely is true.

For me, my instances of boredom likely stem from a lack of patience which seems to be a quirk of my DNA, made worse by nagging, unresolved childhood issues which I’ve yet to pinpoint. This lack of patience is something that I constantly wrestle with but still have not found a sustainable solution.

And it pains me even more now as a father as I see my son developing his daddy’s impatience. It breaks my heart and is a constant reminder to me to be better. And the only way to be better is to model it. To live it. Our offspring watch our every move. They learn their own mannerisms and responses to outside influences by seeing how their parents do it. No matter what we say, it’s what we do that sticks with them.

These days in trading, work, family, and society, I’m trying to do more things that are “good” (productive, profitable, healthy), and less things that are “bad” (unproductive, unprofitable, unhealthy) — then letting karmic compounding work its magic.

I wish it were a straight line from the lower left to the upper right. It is not.