I get bored easily.
I was always a good student – more out of a sense of obligation rather than interest – but the thought of stuffing my head in a book to learn about something that I could already tell would have no real world application for me still makes me cringe to this day. Even more so when I would look up from that textbook and stare at the pile of books out there that I wanted to read.
Since I was about 8-year-old, I have consistently read somewhere between 60 and 80 books each year. Mostly fiction. Maybe that stems from the sense of boredom I mentioned. But I could always lose myself in a book and there was always some new adventure out there. So ever since I became an avid reader, I always thought that my career would have something to do with my love of reading and books.
And that’s how I became an investment strategist.
As weird as that sentence sounds, it’s even weirder for me to think about. But here’s what I learned after being exposed to investment markets: They are one large continuous mystery that can’t possibly be solved. Things are different every day in the markets, and that keeps me on my toes. I could study and read about the markets my entire life and still not be able to accurately predict what is coming. And that, for me, is simply fascinating.
I share this because many young people struggle with what they want to do with their careers and their life. Pressures to make money and to land a great job tend to steer us toward corporate paths that have a clearly-defined upward ladder to climb. While that may be ambitious, a career doing something we don’t enjoy, may very well lead to a life of misery.
So a word for young people just getting started: Try spending some time thinking about why you like something rather than simply focusing on the fact that you like it. What is it about that thing that gives you deep pleasure? If it’s a sport, is it the strategy behind a play? Is it the team aspect, or its physical demands? Are you an animal lover? Why? Perhaps it’s the loyalty and warmth, or it may be that you find joy in a relationship filled with love, but without complication. Is skydiving your thing because adventure and adrenaline energize your life?
Whatever it may be, get to the heart of what compels you to do it, then create a career path for yourself filled with responsibilities that feed these things that are deep within your pleasure center. If you like sports, you don’t have to work at ESPN – you just need something that hits on the same emotions and feelings. When you do this – work won’t even feel like work much of the time.
They don’t teach you this stuff in a classroom. Who knew a life-long love of science fiction and horror novels could lead to stocks and bonds? This investments guy certainly didn’t.