NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The market does not care about you, so focus on achieving your goals instead of trying to beat the market, says Ashvin Chhabra, author of The Aspirational Investor and chief investment officer of Bank of America's (BAC - Get Report) Merrill Lynch Wealth Management.
"People think they are trying to achieve their goals by investing in the market, but they really only care about 2 things: safety and making a lot of money," says Chhabra.
Unfortunately, investors often fixate on those things at the wrong times. When the market is crashing, they think about safety and start selling. When there is a bubble they get greedy and invest everything they have into the fastest growing stocks.
In order to avoid this classic "buy high, sell low" psychology, he suggests investors separate their resources into three buckets: Safety, Market and Aspirational. "If your purpose is to protect your money, then put it in the safety bucket which owns assets like Treasuries and be prepared to accept a minimal rate of return because you are buying peace of mind," says Chhabra.
Chhabra's market bucket is for those seeking a diversified set of investments and are willing to stay diversified over the long-term. "The reason why people invest in the market is because they get the growth of the world," says Chhabra. "It does not matter if you do it by [exchange-traded funds] or mutual funds or active or passive management."
Those seeking to "shoot out the lights" should focus on the aspirational bucket, which should hold things like stock options or a small business. These are investments designed to give investors a high rate of return if successful, but also come with a lot of risk.
"Don't invest in other people's businesses. Build your own business or be an executive in a company that gives you stock or stock options that you hope will turn out well," says Chhabra. "Because what you need to outperform the market is leverage and concentration and in the market bucket those are the exact things you want to avoid."