As an investor, you should resist the temptation to measure your portfolio's performance against common benchmarks like the S&P 500. "Beating" the market by a few percentage points in a year when the S&P 500 drops by 37% (a la 2008) shouldn't be a cause for celebration. Instead, strive to make money in both good and bad markets, and compound your portfolio's growth by generating consistently positive absolute returns year to year.

Easier said than done, right? Motley Fool analyst Matt Argersinger shares two strategies he thinks can help smooth your portfolio's returns, generate income, and build bigger margins of safety into your stocks. See how he thinks you can put these strategies to work in beaten-down names Markel (NYSE: MKL), PICO Holdings (Nasdaq: PICO), and Madison Square Garden (NYSE: MSG), and by using a few options strategies. Watch the video here.

Matt Argersinger owns shares of Markel and PICO Holdings. Markel is a Motley Fool Inside Value choice. The Motley Fool owns shares of Markel and has a disclosure policy.