Could Tom Petty be psychic? Released back in the early '80s, his song "The Waiting" perfectly describes the 2008-2009 stock market. Check out these lyrics and see what you think:

"Oh baby, don't it feel like heaven right now ..."
It may be hard for some people to understand, but these days seem like heaven to many investors. The stock market has recently fallen to lows not seen in 12 years. Just look at how far the following companies have plunged:

Company

1-Year Return

Suncor Energy (NYSE:SU)

(50%)

Mosaic (NYSE:MOS)

(60%)

Corning (NYSE:GLW)

(50%)

Eaton (NYSE:ETN)

(57%)

Apache (NYSE:APA)

(45%)

Western Union (NYSE:WU)

(41%)

Diageo

(42%)

Source: Yahoo! Finance.

"Yeah I've never known nothing quite like this ..."
Let's excuse the double negative and focus on the message. Most of us have never seen anything like the recent action in the stock market. When the S&P 500 has a down year, it's typically along the lines of 7%, or perhaps as much as 20% -- but 37% in 2008? I've certainly never known nothing like that.

"Every day you see one more card ..."
As we assess the progress and prospects of companies we own or are interested in, there's always new information to digest. You may find your belief in GameStop (NYSE:GME) bolstered by its recent earnings growth, only to have your expectations dampened by Toys "R" Us and Amazon.com's entry into video game retailing. Our investing performance can suffer if we start thinking that we've seen all the cards.

"The waiting is the hardest part."
Many great fortunes, like Warren Buffett's, have taken decades to build. Huge blue-chip companies we know well and admire started out as acorns. (Fool co-founder David Gardner has explained how investing early in great companies can offer the highest possible returns.)

When we identify an exciting and undervalued company and plunk some money into it, we usually have to wait -- sometimes quite a while -- for the stock price to reach what we think is its intrinsic value. That can sometimes take years. When we get impatient and jump in and out of stocks rapidly, looking to make a fast dollar, we're really just speculating, which piles on a lot of risk.

So next time you think about your investments, think about Tom Petty -- and maybe you'll make more money!

Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian does not own shares of any companies mentioned in this article. Diageo is a Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation. Western Union is a Motley Fool Inside Value selection. Amazon.com and GameStop are Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks. Try our Foolish investing newsletters free for 30 days. The Motley Fool is Fools writing for Fools.