Topic: When to sow and how much. And when to harvest.
Length: One of my very shortest
Investing is the art of postponing
To invest means to give up the Present for better rewards in the Future. Investing entails among other things the risk of not getting a positive return, not being there for the return, and not least not enjoying whatever it is right now, i.e., you pay the price of time (including, but not limited to, aging and becoming a different person with other preferences).
You can invest on the financial markets (did you know some people only consider the stock market, the market for publicly listed stocks; that some even limit their investment universe to domestic stocks?!), in your knowledge and education, in your social and business networks, your skills, your health, or in just about anything. Sow. And harvest.
The hard question is what you actually want — money, fame, acceptance, recognition, praise, status, personal growth, self actualization? What is your purpose when you devalue the Present to the benefit of the unknown Future?
When you invest you risk creating a string of near misses, of never experiencing the moment in its full glory, always but not quite reaching that future you’re stocking with virtual gold. On the other hand, if you fully give in the the Now, the lack of planning may well reduce the available moments to experience to a suboptimal amount.
Do you choose No living or Some living?
If you are a natural Planner you risk devaluing the Present in favor of a Future constantly just out of reach. And if you always and totally live in the Now, you risk not getting that many of them.
I would go for some Now rather than none, if I could choose.
In any case, I’ve always been a hoarder, a saver, a constant postponer, an investor, a saftey junkie… up until I finally just stopped following the rules, the conventions, the “normal” path of high school, university, investment banking and managing a hedge fund. Now I’m faced with a daily struggle of trying to stay the course of exploration, living in the present while making sure there are as many presents ahead as possible. I take care of my sleep, my nutrition, my workout regime, my varied intellectual diet and relationships. I even invest mindnumbingly wisely (for the most part).
What’s next? Board meetings with stiffs in suits unable to understand the real purpose of growing a business? Actually, maybe. It’s a challenge. And under the right circumstances mutually beneficial.
Maybe seemingly unrelated to the post, but here are some practical snippets:
- You will be a completely different person in ten years; you don’t owe them anything, and they shouldn’t hold any allegiance to your decade-old vows
- A really sad example of life-wasting: “It’s always been a dream of mine to own a sports car”… so I’ve spent my best years in a basement slaving away as an accountant, and now I’m spending my freedom money on a car I don’t really want anymore… but that person, the young version of me I can hardly remember anymore wanted one at one point in time. Sad.
- If you actually are the same person ten years from now, you’re either delusional or stuck. Break out of your homeostasis, please
- Five years is typically a very long planning horizon
- except for financial investments; as long as they can run in the background without interfering with your life, employ them wisely in long term fashion and leave them be. Your resources will be there when you need them, if you come to need them — which like fire insurance you should hope you never come to.
- The author of “Cityboy” once told me when I asked his advice: “When the thought of staying two more years makes you nauseaus, quit that very day”. I took his advice in January 2014.
- The gaming industry understands: aim for intermediary bosses, celebrate your wins, enjoy the game, don’t waste your play solely on just winning the endgame.
- Nobody’s looking. At least nobody who matters, since the only one who matters is you.
- Do you remember when you were young and thought that your clothes mattered? As if other people would like you more or less if you bought clothes adapted to their tastes rather than your own. And as if they mattered if they did. Crazy times.
OK, final thought: Life is lived in the now, financial investments in the future — two completely different skill sets. Eat that marshmallow now; in the future you will shun sugar anyway, but invest for the long term (and hope you’ll never need it)
Remember that the most important part of a decision process is not weighing arguments, it’s establishing your purpose. The runner up factor is execution, so still not the mechanics of deciding. That is done by means of ranking arguments rather than weighing sides, and finding that one, clear reason that eclipses all else.
P.S. if you do happen to make a pros and cons list before breaking up with your girlfriend, make sure she never sees it.