The obvious answer to the title question is 'yes of course,' but only one in five actually accomplishes it. Here's the fascinating part - anyone can join the elite 20% any time they wish and outperform 80% of other investors as long as the 80% continues doing what they are doing. By now, it's widely accepted that most actively managed portfolios, whether mutual funds, private accounts, or hedge funds, fail to beat the benchmarks against which they are measured. Yet most investors continue to chase the goal of market-beating returns, despite the low odds of success.

Risk in investing is generally understood to mean the possibility of losing money. But there is a more important distinction to consider. For instance, when you work with a broker or a money manager you complete a risk tolerance questionnaire. It basically asks you what is the maximum point of risk (loss of your money) you can stand before you spend sleepless nights and stomach-sick days?

One of the most challenging issues we face as investors is the temptation to change, or worse, abandon our carefully reasoned investment plans for perceived threats or opportunities. In these instances we wonder whether we should apply the brakes or step on the accelerator. It seems only as a last resort do we consider sticking with our carefully laid-out investment plan, ignoring the temptations of the day.