Live to work -- Someone who is working an extreme amount in order to keep their current lifestyle paid for, and the majority of their time is spent working.
Work to live -- Someone who is working only the minimum amount needed to get by so that the majority of their time is devoted to living.
For most of my adult professional career (prior to trading) I was most definitely in the "live to work" category. I say this looking back, I am not sure if I would have admitted it at the time or not.
I was earning good money, and so with that money I was justified in rewarding myself with things like expensive cars, expensive homes in expensive neighborhoods, expensive electronics or toys, etc. Right?
I believe that the "Live to work" category is where the majority of people are. At least American's.
I think that you can look at my grandmothers generation and find they did not believe in debt. They paid for everything and that tended to mean they lived mostly within their means. Then look at my generation and it is a polar opposite. Everyone has debt to their eyeballs and no assets of any kind. It is scary.
One thing I discovered when traveling abroad was the significant cultural differences involving work. Perhaps the President of the US likes to tout how American's are the hardest working people, but is that actually a good thing?
I found that even though other cultures have far less money than American's do, they are generally far happier for it. I am of course excluding poverty on both sides of the example. But if you take an "above average" income for an American, and compare it to an above average income of another country, and then start to analyze that persons life and attempt to measure their happiness, I firmly believe America would not score well.
It wasn't until after my divorce 7 years ago that I completely reevaluated my life. I went into great detail in the webinar titled "An Afternoon with Big Mike", for those that care to watch it. But I ended up changing a great deal about myself and my life. An example would be the sale of the Corvette and SUV, moving out of an expensive house in an expensive neighborhood and instead buy a house that was barely worth more than the Corvette was, etc.
But the changes were not just with physical things, but also a change in attitude inside. I started discovering what truly made me happy. I quit my high paying executive job and scarified all that job security and went to trading full time. I almost didn't make it. But along the way I remember I was happier than I had been in a long time, because I just didn't care about the money any more.
Fast forward to today and I constantly try to keep myself in check. It is a battle. I still live in the tiny cheap house, but I am building two very nice houses in Ecuador. I am filling those houses with nice amenities. I constantly question those actions to make sure I am doing it for the right reasons, and as of today I still believe that I am. Once I move to Ecuador I am going to consider myself "retired" and I will work much less than I do today (trading+forum). I want to enter the next phase of my life and start to relax and enjoy living.
Am I "lucky" because I am debt free and am able to build two paid for houses and stop working at the age of 36? Sure, but I think that many of you are purposely making decisions that are leading you down the opposite path. I only got to where I am because I made significant changes and cut everything back so I could accomplish more important goals.
Are you making good money but live in an area with a very high cost of living? Why not move. Do you own a big expensive house and big expensive SUV's? Why not take a few trips overseas and look at how others live, and look at their overall happiness, and ask yourself what you truly need to be happy? How much are those debts weighing you down vs lifting you up?
Are you chasing happiness with every new purchase? A new boat, a new TV, whatever? You justify the expense because you deserve to be happy? Will these items actually make you happy or do they just further contribute to your stress level and debt and cause you to wind up "Living to work"?
I started this thread just because I wanted people to look at themselves and question what they are doing. Are you truly happy? Are you working to live, or living to work? Look at your surroundings. Are those surroundings crushing you in debt, or are they contributing to your happiness? Examine your lifestyle.
I hope it is useful and I look forward to a discussion.
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The following 8 users say Thank You to Big Mike for this post:
If we could all be as carefree as your puppy, I love that dog.
I know I have lived to work all my life, been very conservative no new cars very few toys just working
for the day that I could retire. Happy, yes a great wife two good kids but we all still struggle. Retired
three years ago the plan was to take controll of my retirement account stay conservative but do better
than my broker could do. Well that plan isn't working so good but I will not give up until I at
least find something else that does.
I love trading Just a tough way for some of us to make money.
Moving to another country seems out of question, friends and family it would be very tough so
I respect your courage to do so.
My plan is to keep on trying in hopes of doing as well as you and others in this room have done.
@Big Mike nailed it when he said "I started discovering what truly made me happy"
I think a good question for people to answer is 'If you had sufficient money in the bank would you continue to do your job for free?' I'd say those that answer 'no' probably aren't as happy with their chosen path as they would like to be and need the quick pleasure of buying stuff and spending to keep them balanced. Generally they feel trapped, and don't know how to break the cycle. It's actually quite sad that people need the latest gadget to feel a little bit of happiness.
I'd say the majority of people on this site are, or were, in that transition phase, and have changed paths. And would still be trading if they weren't getting paid because they like it that much.
But - another good question is 'Why have kids/wife/partner if you are going to spend all day working to finance a lifestyle and hardly see them?' What kind of a life is it for them if they hardly see you?
The consumer way of life is mental IMO, but that's what the masses are doing. They buy stuff use it a couple of times and then either put it on a shelf and rarely use it again, or upgrade to the latest model. They used up precious hours of their life slaving away to buy this thing and then use a very bad conversion rate with their hard earned 'happy tokens'.
I'm clearly in the Work to Live camp if it wasn't obvious.
I think you and I had a similar experience. After my first foray into trading, that stopped working for various reasons, I started a technology business in London and worked like a slave at that for five years. My mortgage was significant and I wanted more and more. It got to the point where I had worked myself to the point where I didn't even want to get out of bed in the morning. As a result my relationship of 10 years suffered and we split up; I can honestly attribute my work ethic as a contributing factor to that relationship falling apart. One day I decided that I had enough. I packed up and returned to this tiny province in Canada, where I grew up, and bought a house that was 1/3'rd the cost of my house in the UK. The cost of living here, compared to London is laughably lower. Of course if you asked a local they might not agree but it's all relative. I wound up the business which, at that point, could have continued to prosper if I had the desire to continue working myself to death. But I had been working in technology for 20 years, I was burned out, and all I really wanted to do was get back to trading. So that's exactly what I did. Like yourself it almost ruined me until finally I, "got it". I'm not as far along as you are, I'm still trading as much as I can, but I'm on the road to where you are and I know I won't spend as much time in the market as I do now in a few years time. And in saying that I no longer feel like I have to be at the desk every minute that the market is open. I've identified times that I feel provide me with the best opportunities and I make myself available for those times. When I've had a good day, I call it a day. Trading isn't a time driven activity. Given the right approach a person could spend very little time in the market and do as well as someone who sits there for 18 hours a day. Which reminds me of a dude I worked with at the prop shop. I was the 18 hour a day guy slugging it out and this guy would show up for non-farm payroll, put on a massive position, take profit, and not come back until the next NFP. He made significantly more money than I ever did. Congratulations on achieving what you have achieved. I know I'm not the only one who understands what you have had to go through to get where you are. On top of your trading success you've created the best trading community on the planet, an achievement that should not be under valued. Thanks for this thread, it's a good one.
The following user says Thank You to WolfieWolf for this post:
There are certainly many ways to live ones life, and that depends on what you want out of it. To completely dedicate yourself to one thing is probably the only way to become uber-successful at that one thing. And that one thing has to be something you love. Most people haven't discovered that one thing they love enough. They love/like too many different things at once. And that is the choice - do one thing and maybe be successful at it, or do a range of different things. Depends how you've decided to make your own happiness (if that's what you think the purpose of life is).
I certainly understand the appeal of being uber-successful in the financial sense. But that's just looking at the end result, and the spoils that go with it. I'd question the quality of life along the way, and whether it was worth it. How good would my daily life be if I was spending 14-18 hours in an office? I'd miss my wife, my son, camping, hiking, going 45knots on my windsurfer, I'd miss my gardening, I'd miss making (and drinking) my homebrew, the gym, music, board games etc etc. All of these things that bring me joy I'd be missing out on. I bet if I added up all the little joy factors from all of these different things, it would be higher than the joy factor of the dedicated worker type guy. But it all comes down to how you view life, and what you want out of it.
Dream employee. That's the way to make more profits! Hopefully they do truly love it, and don't feel the pressure of the company culture and the rat race to waste away their life (by my definition). If that's how they get their happiness then more power to them.
The following user says Thank You to sixtyseven for this post:
Right, the whole point is to either (i) find people who truly love this job, or (ii) help people realize that they truly love this job.
It's almost impossible to find people described in method (i), so my role is mostly (ii). Even so, very few people have the potential to truly love this job. They have to love geometry more than money, a game of chess more than a night at Claridge's. If they do have that potential though, I've had a good success rate of helping people make the connection between finance and geometry.
And it's only possible if they work 14-18 hour days? What if they did the same work, but spread out over a longer time period? They would then likely have a more balanced view of life, be more refreshed and probably produce better quality per hour they put in. Sure, it would take longer to get there, but they would have a more fun and balanced life along the way?
Do you expect these people to work 14-18hours until the love wears off and they either burn out and go long term sick, or after a certain amount of time and personal work success you'd allow them to ease off, and ride the rewards of what they have achieved? Or at that point would you look for someone new to replace them?
But I agree with you, it would be a hard task to find someone who truly loves working for someone else and could think of nothing else all their lives.
I recently came across a concept called "Minimalism" that is based on removing all unnecessary clutter in our life and possess just essential things and follow your passions and happiness.
Although majority of traders are seeking just the opposite ie Exuberence, some of the concepts of these minimalists makes sense.