(took this picture the other night while on a walk with my bride)
It’s really an incredible thing to force upon yourself a completely foreign venture. It took many years to realize, that (for me) a fulfilled life must include continuous self improvement.
I stress this to my kids often. I know the words are lost on them, for now. That’s okay. Someday it will “click” and they will realize true joy in pushing themselves in different ventures that are outside of their current abilities.
When I started this project, A Life Unlived, I had so many ideas. So many things I wanted to experience and really excel at. Most are ambiguous and difficult to explain, but I loathe goals that are material.
On that list specifically were:
- Change my career – something that gives me pure joy and supports my family and our future. After 20 years of IT consulting….I’m burned out.
- Get my body back into shape. Simple goals. Look good in form fitting jeans (not skinny jeans), plain t-shirt and chukkas. When I started, I was 40 pounds overweight.
- Upgrade my style. Pre-requisite is #2 on this list. Easier to have good style when your body, health and fitness is dialed in a bit.
- Simplify my life. Less stuff equals happiness.
- Give more. The more we give, the more is given back to us.
- Experience more things as a family. I want to see and experience everything of the world – with my wife and kids.
- Work with my hands every day to build things. (wood working, furniture building, welding…etc)
- Read more classics of literature. My favorite books are from John Steinbeck. I’m certain there are more classics that are just supreme reads.
- Go back to university. After high school I spent 5 years in college – no degree. I truly believe that attending university should be purely self-motivated. I went because everyone else went. Not my thing at the time. Now I’m ready to soak up knowledge like a sponge.
- Start an outdoor adventure apparel company. I’ve always had a love of the outdoors. Mountains, streams, bodies of water, snow, etc. I began the process of starting an adventure apparel company some years back, but realized quickly I didn’t have the funds to adequately make it go. To even make a splash in the space it will take at least $2 million. It’s a goal that I plan on bringing to light…eventually.
- Write. I have a love/hate relationship with writing. Writing for me is a very difficult undertaking. But I find not many things as beneficial for my brain as forcing it to translate it’s thoughts into print.
- Bonus: Start a Podcast. I’ve actually had two podcasts in the past. I was one of the pioneers of podcasting haha in 2007 when I started a real estate flipping podcast (yeah I was into that at one time). Then more recently I started a podcast on entrepreneurship. Obviously these weren’t my forte. I truly enjoy the art of producing audio. It’s much like writing, it forces the brain to really work. But the topics weren’t my cup of tea I guess, because I didn’t stick with it. Someday I’ll revisit this and stick with a topic that resonates with me 100%. Seems like it should make complete sense huh.
There it is. My simple yet extremely daunting list of things that make up my Unlived Life.
What I’ve realized in all of this is that a man cannot change all of these things or implement all of these things at once. At least not this man. For me, I don’t have the emotional compartmentalization to succeed at all of these at once. Nor do I have the capital or the time to fit it all in. So I have to pick the most important and desperate need.
And the winners are….#1 and #2. Everything else will come when I’m ready.
My version of being a happy man includes just a handful of things. Meaningful and happy work, a spiritual connection, a healthy body, a loving and supportive wife, happy sons and daughters, being debt free, and continuous personal improvement. There are many other things that you can include…but this is my list. It’s simple. It’s my goal for my Unlived Life.
For now I’m focusing on satisfying work and a healthy body.
Every man needs satisfying work. Something that drives him. Something that makes him want to truly be a better man. To be an example to his sons and daughters. To give his bride a sense of pride for having such a happy and driven man.
Every man also needs, whether he knows it or not, a healthy body. For years I would lie to myself and say “it’s really okay…I’m happy with my body. I don’t really want to give up beer and tacos.” But when I would see a man who is noticeably in shape and obviously cares about how he looks in a simple t-shirt…I won’t lie…I was jealous. Almost ashamed. Ashamed that he actually cares about how he looks – one look at me and it’s obvious that I do not. He probably feels better than I do, shame turns to anger at myself at this point. So, don’t lie to yourself, men. We all want to be stronger, faster, look good in a t-shirt and be good examples of health to our sons and daughters.
Meaningful and Satisfying Work
Ever since I graduated high school I’ve always owned businesses (except for a 4 month stint working for UPS, which is another story). I’ve never seen myself working for “the man”. It’s just not me. Nothing wrong with having an employer though, “there’s a butt for every seat” as a used car dealer once told me.
However, while the businesses I created earned me a living and supported my family, they were not fulfilling and did zero to give me meaning. For 20 years I’ve basically been going through the motions of life. Not actually living life per se. Funny huh. I’m alive, but don’t really feel like it. Almost like a robot.
So the first order of living my Unlived Life was to get out of the businesses I was in and figure out something else to occupy the professional space in my life. I didn’t know what to do though. I was 37 and had no clue what to try or what I could do that would be an income replacement for my family and also give me great joy. The only prerequisite for what I would eventually do is this – I must never dread it. I must always look forward to my work. If ever I dread it, it’s time to pivot.
I don’t know why or how it occurred to me, but I decided that I would try trading the stock market.
I can clearly remember telling my wife, “Don’t worry babe…this will be easy. I’ll have us a million in three months” HA! Only a fool could say such a thing. And I was just such a fool.
I opened my trading account on February 2nd this year , 2018. If you’re a trader, you know that this would be a pretty difficult moment in time to start trading. It’s a very important date actually. The markets took a pretty serious nose dive on this day, then whip-sawed violently until May-ish.
How ironic that I would start trading on one of the worst days for the markets in last few years.
First I started trading penny stocks, basically any stock that was $5 or less appealed to me, because I didn’t want to use a lot of money in the beginning. I seriously thought I would learn how to trade these things in a few weeks…deposit more money and start extracting money from the market like a pro in the next few months. I wouldn’t say I was stupid…but very ignorant of how things actually work.
For the next 7 months I lost thousands. I struggled. I even cried a bit…not ashamed to admit that. It was more of a cowardly whimper in the shower after I lost $400 in one trade.
For the new trader, the market is like a thief in the night that you never see coming. It gives you so much hope, so much potential, but then bends you over and shoves a brick up your backside in a split second. You can watch your real-time P&L go from beautiful green to bleeding red in a single 1-minute candle.
Slowly, I learned a little.
After much tuition cost, I just closed out my very first green month. I was finally profitable after 7 months of pure emotional hell.
What non-traders don’t and could never understand is the amount of emotional torment that accompanies trading. For me, trading has been the truest mirror of myself I’ve yet to find. I’ve discovered to my horror how prideful I am, how greedy I am, and how I lack a certain humility that is required to be a successful trader. To be a good trader I’ve learned that you must accept that being wrong the majority of the time is part of being a good trader. I’ve learned that greed is really a devilish trait in trading, and in life too of course. I’ve learned that if you don’t see, accept, and work on your personality faults…you won’t be trading for very long. The market will weed you out of its beautiful flower bed.
How I eventually became profitable after 7 months of pure losing money is simple. There isn’t a holy grail, nor is a there a single thing I could tell myself seven months ago when I started. In fact I wouldn’t tell myself anything…I needed to put in my time. I needed to pay my dues. I am still required to pay my dues and learn continuously. The only thing that really helped me was to listen. Listen to the market and let it tell me when I should enter a trade instead of forcing and fearing that I would miss out. Patience, knowledge, discipline and hours of lonely solitude of chart staring every day is what it takes.
The winner in every endeavor in life is the person who will do what no one else is willing to do. I decided I would be that guy. That’s my edge. Not giving up, staying up late, getting up early, and being irrationally persistent. I just assume that I’m not as smart and not as talented as every other player out there…so my only offense and defense is pigheaded determination.
I want to say thank you to everyone out there who took time to tell me something and those of you who don’t even know that I’m learning from you.
It’s a simple list…but I must give thanks. Mike Katz from Seven Points Capital who lets me be a DM annoyance on Twitter. Scott and Joseph from Smash-The-Bid.com, Michael Martin and your amazing podcasts, and TraderStewie for your incredible charting on Twitter.
These guys are my mentors whether they know it or not. They are all what I call genius and generosity.
My wife. What a wonderful woman I have for a wife. I honestly don’t know how any man could be a trader without a very supportive wife. No matter how much money I ever lost learning to trade, she always believed in me. If every driven man has such a wife as mine, rest assured that he is destined for great things with her at his back to catch him when he falls – because every man will fall. It’s what comes after the fall that makes his wife proud.
For all of you new and struggling traders like me. Don’t give up. Don’t let the market beat you. You must be irrationally persistent. Don’t give up…ever!
Oh…and always use a stop loss.
Trading has provided me with a renewed professional purpose. I’m loving every single day. I look forward to Monday’s (unless it’s a holiday) and I like weekdays more than weekends now. I think this is a pretty good sign that I’m on to something.
Look Good in a T-shirt, Jeans and chukkas.
Everyone has their own idea of what looks good. What makes them feel good. And on the inside we have this demonish jealousy of those who posses what we don’t have. I’ve been like this for years. For years I’ve been fat. But a really weird skinny-fat. My calves and wrists and neck are skinny, but my mid-section is a waste dump. I’ve always been that way, except for the year after my divorce in 2010 which I killed myself in the gym and was honestly proud of how I looked. But those times passed and I enjoyed too much beer, tacos, cake, pie, and Coke. (I love Coke!).
So the only other part of my Unlived Life that I can seriously focus on right now is getting my body back in shape. Once I’ve sufficiently achieved a semblance of career success with trading and have my body back in order can I begin to focus on the other items on my list.
This didn’t start as quickly as the trading journey did. I got serious about this on May, 21st 2018. I weighed 230 pounds. I felt like crap. I ate like crap. I was embarrassed and ashamed of how I looked.
I’ve lost 22 pounds since then. Mostly from ditching carbs and lifting heavy things in the gym. Seriously, I don’t eat any carbs whatsoever. As world renowned Olympic trainer Charles Poliquin would say “If you’re not less than 15% body fat, you don’t deserve to even look at a prune”. I was 32% body fat. Yuck. So I cut out every single carbohydrate. No sugar. No fiber. No soda. No grain. Now the only things I consume are meat, salt, coffee (black and with organic heavy cream), and water. Topo Chico mineral water from Mexico is my favorite treat.
In the months that I’ve been doing this, I’ve gotten stronger in the gym. My squat, bench press, and dead-lift have increased, while my body weight has decreased, while only eating meat. Lots of red meat. I realize the consensus on this kind of diet is very controversial, so we can save that debate for another time. I will say however, I have never felt better. I have more energy, I feel like a beast in the gym, I sleep like a baby, and I don’t crave anything…except a good steak (and blueberries, which I control). The Standard American Diet is….S.A.D.
Slowly, very slowly, I’m on my way to getting my health and body back to a publicly presentable condition. Maybe when I reach my goal I’ll share my before-and-after.
T-shirt, jeans, and chukkas here I come!
Till next time.
Thank you for reading!