Lifestyle Changes to Survive a Career in Markets
I have previously written on the struggle to find that work/life balance that is something most everyone faces “When Do You Have Enough? – The Work/Life Balance Struggle.”
I have been making a lot of changes, progress, since writing that two years ago and wanted to share some of the things that have been helpful. I absolutely love my career, investing is one of the few fields where there is no gray area at the end of the day, you have a scorecard in the form of your P&L sheet daily/weekly/monthly/quarterly/yearly. I was likely drawn to it for this reason, my competitive nature that has been with me my entire life in sports, games, academics and just about anything else. I also very much enjoy working for myself with the many positives including but not limited to: No commute, freedom, no dress code, no boss, and a sense of pride/ownership. It has some drawbacks as well, there are no perfect careers, the main one here being the lack of a social environment.
A career in the markets carries a few notable health risks, on the physical side it revolves around the amount of time required at the desk, in the form of research to get a leg up. On the mental side, it carries plenty of stress due to the unpredictable nature and daily roller-coaster ride of emotions that comes in the form of the various negative thinking traps such as regret, over-thinking, and the asymmetric emotional relationship between winning & losing. Competitiveness and Determination have always been two very strong qualities of mine, but I also have trouble controlling them, and like many things in life, moderation is key. I find more and more it is not even about the money anymore, just the pain of losing is negatively skewed to the joy of winning. The lows of losing simply are not symmetrical with the highs of winning.
These are the two drawbacks I have been attempting to improve to enhance physical/mental health and wanted to share some of my discoveries. I will break them down into categories of Diet, Exercise, and Mental which I find as three main pillars of Health/Happiness while a fourth is Social that I still need to find a solution.
“Having Kids is Hard” is something all new parents hear and I have found it to be true as well, but not in the way I expected. Parenting in itself is not the difficult part, kids are tough and adaptable and you learn as you go, everyone has his/her own parenting style that can be equally effective, the simple end-goal is having healthy & happy kids. The HARD part is being a good parent while not forgetting to take care of yourself along the way. Once you have kids your entire life purpose and reason to want to be healthy, and thus extend your life, is to be there for your kids and watch them grow and see all the incredible things they will do along the way. They are your main source of happiness on a daily basis. You need to adapt yourself, going to the gym five nights a week is not an option anymore, if you want to spend time with your kids, so you integrate exercise into your daily work and make sure to focus on outdoor/active fun family days on the weekends.
Without further ado, here are some effective things I have been doing, and some I still need to pursue:
Diet: I’ve always been health conscious and we cook at home six times a week using organic ingredients and always have vegetables. My servings are likely larger than recommended and I was eating meat for lunch and dinner 7X/week. I stay away from sweets for the most part but my weaknesses always have been Beer, Cheese, Ice Cream and Beef Jerky. I started eating mushrooms finally last year which has made changing up my diet much easier. Some changes I made this year:
- Limited red meat to 1X/week
- Vegetarian/Fish meals 3X/week
- Drinking a lot of water, 160 ounces/day
- Taking a daily vitamin, fish oil, Zyflamend, and CBD
- Eliminating beers during the week and on weekends max of two
Exercise: I was as active as anyone could possibly be my first twenty five years, but starting a business cut into time I could dedicate to sports & working out, and then having two kids even made that more difficult. A hernia surgery in 2017 put me on the shelf for a while and it took me seven years before that of having the issue before getting surgery that limited me as well. In late 2018 I hit a weight of 215lbs when I decided it was time to get serious, and within four months got back down to 195lbs. I think optimal weight is 185lbs so I have some work to do.
- Kick-Boxing – I do a one-hour class twice per week of intense core, arms, cardio workout that burns around 2000 calories. I enjoy it a lot more than other cardio workouts like bicycling/running as it is also a stress reliever to be boxing, and the class is always different to keep me interested, and absolutely kicks my butt every time. I took a step back from lifting weights due to some wrist & shoulder issues and an overall realization I did not need to add any more muscle, I needed to focus on cardio.
- Movement Plan – I started this a few months ago where I do exercises in my office at the top of every hour to get me away from the desk and refresh my body/mind. It only takes 3-5 minutes and through the course of a workday you are getting in an extra 40 minutes of activity each day. I generally do 25-30 reps or 30 seconds of the following:
- 8am: Push-Ups, Bridges, and Superman’s
- 9am: Squats and Lunges
- 10am: Abs – Crunches, Rope Grabs, Leg Raises, and In & Outs
- 11am: High Knees, Butt Kickers, Calf Raises, Stairs
- 12pm: Planks (Regular, Low, Sides, Bear) & Mountain Climbers (Regular 50X, Everest 20X)
- 1pm: Outside Wind Sprints
- 2pm: Push-Ups (Triceps), Bridges, Superman’s, Plank Jacks
- 3pm: Abs (Obliques) – Bicycle Crunch, Ankle Grabs, Crossover Punch, Russian Twist & Rock & Rolls
- 4pm: Wind Down – Breathing Exercises, Yoga, Stretching
Mental: This is an area I never really bothered to take care of and always figured I could just overcome anything, but as I get older and pile on more stressors like kids, home ownership, multiple businesses, and more it becomes something that needs to be addressed.
- Keeping Lists – I find keeping lists allows you to let things be removed from your mind. I like to break the list down into timeframes such as Urgent, Soon, and Future. I use a Wipebook.
- Music – I have not had the TV on the financial networks in over five years as there is no relevant urgent news and it is all a distraction. There is much better content to read. I find listening to music to be the best for me as well as my Dan Patrick Show 9am-12pm daily. I have tried Podcasts but you really do not want to have to listen to someone talking and really focus when you are already focusing on your work, so I did not find them helpful while working because I miss the things I want to consume.
- Closing GMAIL Tab – I check emails at 1pm and at the end of the day, it helps avoid dsitractions.
- Breathing – I found myself often holding my breath for stretches so really try and focus on my breathing when things get fast and crazy. Lately I have been utilizing a 5-5-5 technique (inhale, hold, exhale).
- Reading & Writing – Two things that are always therapeutic to me as writing allows me to get things down on “paper” and out of my mind, while reading can take your minds to entirely new places as a welcome distraction.
There are still a number of things I want to try, finding the time to insert them into a daily routine is the key to sticking with changes. Meditation is a big one and there are plenty of great apps out there, and have heard it to be very helpful for many people. I also want to increase exercise even more as it is a big help to both physical & mental health, and considering getting an Indoor Bike for the free-time, better to ride a bike while watching some TV rather than lay on the couch. Making a list of things you love to do and making sure to find time to do some of these things weekly is important, for me that includes Fishing, Hiking, Golf, Cooking and Reading.
Ultimately I may need to eventually decide if it is worth putting my body & mind through this just to satisfy my need for competition and success. The market and researching companies is my passion, and my other real passions are sports, food/farming & nature, not a lot of good paying jobs in those departments that I would qualify (on paper). I have the kind of mind that can do anything I set out to do, but also fear taking that initial plunge for the shock of change. I am a simple life kind of guy but I just have too many damn ambitions.
For now, I will just keep trying to improve my daily routine to improve that work/life balance and maintain a focus on my physical & mental health.
Lastly, if you have any solutions to add, feel free to contact me, or even better if you know of a high paying stress free job…hit me up ?