- Welcome to the Real World – Work problems.
- Live to Work or Work to Live? – Understanding what is important in life.
- Final Thoughts – The end of my stress related rant.
Welcome to the Real World
I thought working in finance would be the best job ever. Get paid a ton of money, party like a rockstar and live the American dream. That admiration quickly evaporated after I got smacked with a large dose of reality. I soon realized that finance salaries are not that great, everyone is too tired/angry to party after working a 15 hour day, and most finance guys face the same struggles any other American faces (ie. affording a house). To add some icing to the cake, most bosses in finance have a short temper. My boss in particular takes great pleasure in shitting all over me.
Since entering the workforce back in 2012 I have been gradually changing my mentality towards work. Fresh out of college I was ready to work like a slave and do whatever it takes to make some money – I was hungry. Since then, I have traveled to 9 different countries and have made many great friends from all over the world. With these new friendships many great memories were created that I will never forget. From this experience I realized that life isn’t about staring at an excel spreadsheet for 15 hours a day, but about having great experiences and having fulfillment in what you do.
The inspiration for this article came as I have been grinding away in finance over the past year and haven’t been allowed to go on vacation due to business needs (there’s always stuff to do). Its an interesting concept since most of our European counterparts get about a month off every year while most U.S. employers allow only 2 weeks. I enjoy most of the work, but I think its important to have a balance and to not lose focus on the important things that matter in life. Going back to my boss; she’s ~40 years old with no kids or family. All she really has is her job. Since financial firms still have an old school culture, I give her great credit in advancing her career among a male dominated industry. However, when I look at my boss I ask myself: do I want to be like her when I’m 40?
Live to Work or Work to Live?
I believe it’s important to work hard and be willing to grind while you’re young. Learning how to be good at something is key so that down the road you can leverage those skills and start your own business. That’s why I have been sharpening my valuation and investing skills every day and night consistently over the past few years. It also helps that I enjoy something that can also make me money!
When it comes to work I think its important to draw a line between working hard and becoming a workaholic with no social life. This is becoming an ever more important topic in the workplace, especially as Millennials are leading the charge in challenging the workplace status quo. The Harvard Business Review completed a study analyzing stress levels at work and the below categories were identified as main sources of work-related stress by generation.
Its pretty obvious that Millennials complained much more than every other generation by a long shot. However, taking a closer look we can see that inflexible hours came in second place. This is pretty interesting because a separate study conducted by Statista in 2014 revealed that work-life balance was also the second most important priority for job-seekers after salary, see below.
Making money is an important aspect of our lives, but don’t lose focus on why you work so hard in the first place. I’m admittedly a frugal guy, but even I still like to spend money on travel and other experiences that bring joy to my life. Since moving back to my hometown of San Diego in November of 2016, I have been living the simple life. I picked up surfing and can now say that I’m officially no longer a kook. Whenever I’m not working I do the best that I can to get outside and make the most out of my precious time. Working long hours in my current job has reinforced this belief.
Take a look at the chart below to give you an idea of the average American work-life.
My goal in life is to reduce the amount of time I have to dedicate to work and place more time and energy into things I actually enjoy. Besides sleep, work-related activities consumes most of our daily lives. To escape this I plan to save aggressively, invest, and work hard on side businesses to generate additional income. At the end of the day we’re all just exchanging our time for a paycheck. Once that link is no longer needed, we can utilize our time in much more meaningful ways. Being financially independent also allows you to stop taking it from “the man”.
Everyone gets caught up in the daily grind, but its important to take a step back and remember what you are trying to achieve. Working long hours in finance is taking its toll on me as I’m stressed out and tired from working so much. However, this career I’ve chosen has helped me better understand how precious our time is and why its important to have a balanced lifestyle. I think vacations are good for the mind, but even just taking some yoga classes a few times a week can make a difference. You can’t live through life being miserable all the time, because that’s just not fun.
What’s interesting is that there is a World Happiness Index that tracks peoples happiness from all over the world. The top six countries with the most happy people came from Europe in the latest poll.
According to this chart U.S.A isn’t doing so bad at number 14. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of things to be grateful for, especially as an American. I’m lucky to be born in a country with the best opportunities and a high standard of living. Complaining about work-related stress is a minuscule problem compared to what some developing countries have to deal with. My goal is to focus on being happy and reduce the work-related stress. Over time I hope to reduce the amount of time I have to exchange for a corporate paycheck and focus my energy on my own business endeavors. In the meantime, I hope to take an international trip soon that will continue to broaden my horizons.
For all you readers out there, I hope you can find a work-life balance that makes you happy. If you’re stressed out at work what stress relieving activities do you recommend? Leave a comment below!