The only return that matters to you is the return on your investments. The return on investments is easy to calculate. If you had invested a sum(s) of money at one point of time or over a period of time, the investments should have yielded a) positive returns b) positive returns that have beaten the opportunity cost of investing in a similar asset class elsewhere. Nothing else matters.
Now go a take a look at your portfolio. Look at stocks you have invested in, the equity and hybrid mutual fund schemes that you have invested in and the debt funds that you have invested in. Calculate the total returns you have made from investing. If you have made negative returns, you have lost money and have clearly made the wrong investment decision. If your returns are positive, equate the returns you could have received by investing in the equity index (Nifty or Sensex) or in case of fixed income, investing in a fixed deposit of a bank. If your returns are higher than the equity index or a fixed deposit you have made the right investment decision if not you have made the wrong decision.
The question of timing arises here. Comparing or judging returns over a short period of time is not ideal as investments do take some time to fructify returns. A too long period of time could mean that all your returns came in one boom period, while other periods could have actually yielded poor returns. A good period of comparison is three years, as there is enough time for investment performance.
Once you have calculated your returns, judge for yourself if you are making money on your investments or not. If you are not making money in a stock or an equity scheme, you have to seriously ask yourself whether you should continue holding a stock or the scheme. If you are staying put in your investment it implies that you have good faith in the company or fund manager with whom you have entrusted your money. If you do not have faith, then you are holding on to hope, which can be eternal.
Holding on to losing investments is expensive. If it is a stock, the cost is the opportunity of not investing in the index or any other fundamentally good stock. If it is a mutual fund scheme, the cost is the cost of management fees plus the opportunity of not investing in other performing schemes or index or fixed deposits or other fixed income instruments.
The choice of a wrong investment can be disastrous. Even if you had invested in a stock or fund at the lowest levels of the Sensex when it fell to 9000 from 21000 levels post the bubble burst in 2008, the stock or fund could actually have delivered returns of 30% to 40% less than the Sensex return of 85%. If you do own such stocks or funds, you have to think seriously on why you made the investments.
Hopefully you do not own such stocks or funds.