Last Friday, something heartbreaking happened. While crammed into a middle seat on a flight from Denver to D.C., I realized that I may never become a great investor.

Tired from a long week, and bored out of my mind, I ignored the more sensible reading material I'd brought along and picked up the in-flight magazine. Before long, I stumbled across an advertisement -- and a troubling fact.

Wasted opportunities
"Over 92% of people who own exercise equipment and 88% of people who own health club memberships do not exercise," the ad stated. The more I read that line, the less possible it seemed. But to be honest, at my own gym, maybe one-third of the people I see there look like they've ever been inside a gym.

I guess going through the motions makes them feel good about themselves. But why would so many people spend money, then not even pretend to exercise?

Four words that opened my eyes
At one point, all these people had an "I can do it" moment: a brief burst of inspiration brought on by a friend, a personal trainer, or even an infomercial. They came to believe that with a little effort, they could truly get in shape. I should know -- I'm one of them.

Now, I've gone to the gym fairly regularly for years, and I get my fair share of exercise. But have I ever really reached my loftiest fitness goals? Nope.

Is that because I'm lazy, or undisciplined, or I just don't have the genes for it? Sure, that's part of it. But the real reason lies in four heartbreaking words ...

"I don't have time"
Time is our most precious resource, and lack of it is the No. 1 reason people don't go to the gym … or travel the world … or, well, you name it. It could also be the reason you never become a great investor, or make the kind of money you want in the stock market.

Becoming a master investor takes an almost impossible amount of time. Warren Buffett began his investing career at 10, and he's been practicing for hours a day ever since. Obviously, he's spent his time well.

But what about those of us who don't have the time it takes to become great investors, or uncover life-changing investments? Heck, what about those of us who barely have time to keep up with the stocks we already own?

Take me, for example
Here's a list of stocks I own, along with some of the reading I should be doing just to keep up with them:


No. of Pages in 10-K

No. of Articles on Yahoo! Finance Last Monday

Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT)












Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS)



Freeport-McMoRan (NYSE:FCX)



Transocean (NYSE:RIG)






And that's only a third of the stocks in my portfolio! In other words, I should have read roughly 6,000 pages and 550 articles per day over the past month just to keep up with the stocks I already own, let alone find new ones that could make me rich.

Now, don't get me wrong. I really want to be a master investor -- just like I really want to be in excellent shape. But I haven't had the time to read 6,000 pages of SEC filings and 550 articles per day. Have you?

Is there any hope?
Absolutely. Though investing is a hobby for most of us, devoting an hour or two a week to your portfolio will give you a huge advantage as you build your long-term wealth.

Unlike the in-flight ad I saw, which dubiously promoted a $14,000-plus machine that provided a total-body workout in four minutes a day, I can't promise that successful investing will be easy. However, if you're looking for a shortcut to become a better investor, consider the newest offering from Motley Fool co-founder Tom Gardner. It's called Motley Fool Million Dollar Portfolio, and gives time-strapped investors an all-access pass to follow along as Tom invests $1 million of The Motley Fool's own money in recommendations from the Fool's premium recommendation services.

$1 billion, here we come
Believe it or not, that's how much Tom estimates this portfolio will be worth 50 years from now. That might sound as far-fetched as a four-minutes-a-day exercise machine, but frankly, I'd be shocked our holdings aren't worth much more than that five decades from now.

After all, Tom has dedicated his life to investing. In the past five years, Tom's picks for Motley Fool Stock Advisor members are up 47% on average.

The ultimate payoff
While you won't become a master investor without a serious investment of your time, Million Dollar Portfolio will save you time, and it could lead you to some of the market's most profitable stocks. If you're tired of just going through the motions, and you're ready to start reaching your investment goals, I urge you to learn more about Motley Fool Million Dollar Portfolio right now.

Just click here and tell me where to send all the details.

Austin Edwards owns shares of all the companies mentioned in this article. Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. The Fool has a disclosure policy.