I’m standing at a crossroads now. Which path do I take?

It’s easier if I start with the end in mind. If I know what my end would be like, I’d probably figure out the best possible path to get there.

The End

At the end of my life, what would I like to see myself doing? What do I see myself becoming?

I’m pretty sure that the things that matter in life to me are not the trappings of high society life- I sure as hell wouldn’t like a $5.9 Billion dollar boat or hanging out in noisy clubs with overdressed people getting wasted on champagne and a self-delusionary ego.

No. At the more personal level, why would I need all that when the things that make me happy are the relationships with the friends and family that I have. I definitely want to be financially free- in the sense that my investments and businesses more than provide me with what is necessary for my daily expenses (with expectations for lifestyle changes in the future). I’d keep myself healthy while occasionally indulging in a plate of Char Kway Teow or Chilli crabs.

More importantly, I love my wife and my (future) kids. I don’t want to be the kind of father that tells them that I could gone out into the world like a cowboy with guns blazing and left my mark if it weren’t for them. I don’t want to tell them that I’m an adventurer and an explorer  at heart but because of them, I had to confine myself to a desk; constantly chained to a prison with four walls and a computer screen doing a job that I see no value in. No, I won’t do that because that is precisely the kind of bullshit that many parents feed their kids today; And this bullshit heaps expectations on kids to be doctors or lawyers when they might  receive much greater fulfilment elsewhere. That’s just cruel.

My personal observation is that this is usually due to the lack of money in the home. Ironically, this is usually greatest in homes that have no money because they’ve spent substantial amounts of money on frivolous trappings like luxury cars, annual holidays (to exotic locales no less), personal country club memberships (emphasis on ‘personal’ since corporate club memberships are expenses and arguably can be used in entertaining clients to bring in more business) and the likes. Most other folks think that these people are rich (sometimes these families themselves think that they’re rich) but that is often an illusion.

I’d also love to pick the brains of the best and the brightest in creating a better world. I certainly would love to be an intellectual if I could but I think I’d be happier with a ringside seat into how the ingenuity of the driven change the world for the better. I’d be involved in the translation of ideas into reality- ideas that make a positive difference to society rather to the pockets of one or two individuals. I’d want my ideas to be a lasting work of art rather than a fad to be capitalised on. A system rather than a machine; systems eventually get replaced when new systems are discovered but much less frequent than a machine. Systems are also adaptable, capable of evolution whereas a machine can only be upgraded to a certain extent.

The Present

Right now, I stand at a crossroads.

The path behind me bears my footprints and I have no choice but to leave it behind. Some people are questioning my decision. After all, the path I’ve walked has proven to be safe and decent from a monetary point of view. There is also the issue of my impending marriage and the inevitable start of a family. But it would make me a hypocrite and a general all-round asshole if I continue to stay where I am.

As it is, I can’t muster up any form of energy to channel into my work. I just don’t see the value in it. Client satisfaction is non-existent because they’re too busy satisfying their own clients to give a damn about us. Personal satisfaction is non-existent because I can’t see the impact of our work on society. Maybe I’m blind but let’s just say I see the satisfaction of a person consuming a nice cold beer or reaping the fruits of their investment in order to fund their kid’s tuition fees much more easily than my current work; And it’s shameful that my colleagues have to pick up the slack for me. I can only be grateful and sorry.

On the left, it’s to finally go out into a world of adventure- where countless opportunities await me. The idea of creating something big from what I see is a decaying plant is very appealing; imagine! Death to Life and to exponentially more Life.

More importantly, as Warren Buffett said, “I am a better investor because I am a businessman.” It’s always been my dream and my passion to be the best investor there is. I’ve learnt that investing from behind a computer screen can only take you so far. Being immersed in the actual world of business means being able to observe first-hand as well as growing the network of contacts that are able to provide real-time updates on the current status of variables such as rents, wages, material costs, financing, controlling expenses, competition (both onshore and offshore) as well as any other tricks that businesses use.

The downside to this path is that the path is tricky. It’s not an easy path to walk- most people barely survive and those that do well may experience strong tests of their principles and their guts.

On the right, I see more of the same path that lay behind me. Of course, I’m optimistic that this time I’ll find something that brings me closer to being a better investor. Monetarily it should be more comfortable although there will be an eventual ceiling.

However, that will mean being confined to a small pond. The view of the world from there may not be as clear as if I take the left path. Also, it might mean a test of family commitments. I have seen friends who work incredibly long hours and sacrifice their time with loved ones. Those that don’t will be subject to a lifetime of mediocrity and usually end up being the first in line to be let go during a downturn.

Both paths will lead me closer to the end; The question is, which of these journeys will end up being the more fulfilling one? Which one will provide greater test and eventually, growth in one’s character? After all, it is one thing to have the ends justify the means but what good is the means if it is not synergistic? If one does not enjoy the process, is there meaning even if he reaches the end? What kind of lessons will he teach his kids?

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