1. Risk-adjusted return is a worthy goal.
In other words, a return level that is appropriate for you based on your risk tolerance, time horizon and investment goals isn't necessarily one designed to beat the index every year. The operative word here is "risk." Yes, the more risk you take means the higher your potential returns should be. But there are limits to that, because eventually you'll probably need to start cashing in on your investments, which shortens your time horizon.
2. Eventually, every winner becomes a loser.
Whether you are paying an advisor or you are investing on your own, investing is comparable to a long-term journey of course correction. Rebalancing your portfolio by reducing winning positions and reinventing the proceeds into losing positions may seem counterintuitive, but it is important not to let one asset class overrun the rest of your investment portfolio. Eventually, every winning asset class will become a drag and vice versa for the current laggards.
Sectors are a good example of this. I clearly remember the tech boom of the late 1990s. The more recent disaster in financials and industrials came in the 2007 to 2009 market crash. Now the energy complex is tanking. All of these sectors were the market darlings just before the pummeling took place. And after each crash, I always meet investors who were financially hurt because they had too much exposure to these sectors. It makes no more sense to avoid any of these sectors as it did to overload them, but how about taking a little off the table once in a while and reinvesting elsewhere? These investors may have had more discipline at an earlier point in their investing careers, but like everything else, it takes discipline to stay disciplined!
3. Your investing "normal" should not be to expect, or hope, everything goes up or down at the same time.
The basic premise is that over long periods of time, all asset classes are expected to produce a positive return; it is just that they often do so at different times over the short and intermediate time. The different components in your investment account shouldn't be expected to go up and down at the same time. If that happens, it means your account holdings are "correlated," which means your investments are moving up and down in tandem. I like to say to my clients that we have an "all-weather portfolio" as opposed to a bull market portfolio. This means that by definition, the components in a portfolio have to be non-correlated to be truly diversified.