Addiction and Recovery
Ian Winer is an investor, philosopher, humanitarian, writer and public speaker who connects people to the truth of market places and human behavior. Ian is the author of the book, Ubiquitous Relativity: My Truth is Not the Truth. A regular contributor to CNBC, Fox Business, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, and Reuters, to name just a few, he is known for seeking connections through non consensus thinking and making it relatable to everyone.
Remember that movie "Reality Bites." - Great Soundtrack and I must admit the crush I have had on Winona Ryder for many years. (Its o.k. - My wife knows) I saw it during one of my weekends away from West Point. I don't think anyone has used "My Sharona" in a movie since. And who knew Evian was Naive spelled backwards?
This is a great article by Catey Hill of Marketwatch about the desperation of Gen X.
I can only speak to my specific situation, but I left a career on Wall Street after 22 years for many of the reasons discussed in this article.
I am not in a position financially to "retire" but I left anyway. If I had not spent my money like a drunken sailor thinking the good times would go on forever, I might be able to "retire." But what fun would that have been?
A few thoughts on why I left:
The opportunity cost of missing out on my life became greater than the real cost of losing the expected income.
******This one is always tricky to calculate because it requires some "guesstimating" but I had a pretty good idea where the income was going. It was fantastic on an absolute basis, although like many Gen Xers, it was tracking downwards, having peaked some years earlier. So the real cost was the income sacrificed. The opportunity cost of missing out on life is always tough to measure, but for me it was simply to really think about life as fragile. I used to think that for about an hour after a funeral, but then I would sink back into life, not giving much thought about how it all could end in an instant. So the opportunity cost was trying to measure my current life (which I viewed as a means to an end: make enough money to do the things I wanted to do) to what life could be like as an end in and of itself. The opportunity cost was greater than the real cost. As scary as it felt to leave my seat on the trading floor, it was even more frightening to see myself in that seat one more day.
I knew on my death bed, I would not look back and say: "I wish I had spent more time in the office staring at 6 computer screens."
******This is cliched to say the least, but it is true for me. When I look back at memories that matter even now at 45, almost all are around things out of the office. Vacations, Connections, Time spent with my wife and other loved ones. I rarely think of anything I did in finance during those 22 years as truly memorable. I think back to great conversations, parties, and meaningful relationships where I helped someone or someone helped me as my finest hours. I remember moments at the office and trading situations of course, but they are never something that I feel any real sense of being about.
I did not want to wait until 65 or 70 to "do the things I want to do."
******We were fortunate to go volunteer in South East Asia with more volunteering to come. The reality is there is a huge difference physically between 45 and 65. (And between 25 and 45 as I am reminded in my men's league hockey games.) I simply could not have done what we did at 70. Maybe others can. I also have no idea if I will even make it to 70. I was part of a society that seems to have an approved track. The track usually involved retiring and traveling in the last lap. I felt I would rather spend the energy I have on the second lap as opposed to the "gun lap."
I did not want to describe my life as being "stuck."
******I understand that people feel like they can't leave the office for a variety of reasons. Many are financial. My wife and I don't have kids and certainly that has given us some freedom we would not have had otherwise. But, many people describe their lives as "wanting to do other things, but they are stuck." Oftentimes, it is because they feel there is nothing else they can do. My identity was largely based on Wall Street for 2+ decades so I understand the fear of losing that. It was terrifying in many ways as I would no longer be the center of attention and I would no longer have a lot of people laughing at my jokes because I was the boss, even when they weren't funny. (Spoiler alert, they weren't funny for the most part) But Kelly and I promised each other we would never describe our lives as being stuck no matter how scary it can be to get "unstuck."
Every human being lives in their own universe. This a key tenet of "Ubiquitous Relativity." Connection is what makes life more purposeful. This is another key tenet of "Ubiquitous Relativity." One of the ways to connect with more people on a deeper level is to leave my comfort zone and expand my universe. I have found that getting "unstuck" has helped me do that.
Walking away required a leap of faith that there is something more out there. So far there is more than I could have imagined.
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