Get a life.

I was thinking about messages that I have shared in previous newsletters and came across an issue where I wrote about the importance of having a life outside of trading. Then I came across one where I wrote about the value of time. I would like to revisit those now.

Last week was one of the hardest of my life. A dear friend passed away from cancer and then days later a very close family friend who I have known my entire life also died. In addition, we were dealing with some big decisions and other pivotal life events, like transitioning back to a safe environment for our kids to have social interaction, and another important person in our life moving away.

I barely traded last week – my mind set was not right, the time was not there and I was stressed. I should have also stepped away from Twitter, where the negativity that I often deal with can occasionally break through my usually thick skin. Last week was a time when I would have almost inevitably made bad decisions or been emotional about my trades.

It led me to some deep thoughts about what is truly important in life.

First, if you want to be a successful trader it is essential to spend time with your family and friends often. Go to the gym regularly. Eat healthy food. Turn off your phone and don’t check your portfolio regularly. Keep specific trading hours and do not trade during your leisure time. Nobody can trade 24/7 — it causes mental fatigue and poor decisions. The more focused you are during the allotted hours that you spend trading, the more profitable and unemotional you will be. The only way to make this happen is to step away from the charts and enjoy the other aspects of your life. It’s really as simple as that. Life is too short to be spent entirely in front of a screen. This goes for Twitter as well, and is a lesson I need to take more notice of myself.

Second, I am a strong believer that time is our most valuable asset. It has always been my goal to work less and play more, which was largely responsible for my decision to focus on DJing and music production for almost 20 years. During this time, I was able to travel the world, experience things that most people only see in movies and take the opportunity to truly get to know myself.
The flip side of that coin is that I did not take life seriously enough. I only cared about having enough money to pay for the next grand experience or to sustain my lifestyle. I did not have lofty enough goals, as I was always “focused on the now.” I had fun, but I was not working hard enough to buy myself more time in the future. I barely saved money, and if I did I ended up dipping into those savings when I wanted to do something I enjoyed.

Financially, I was an idiot.

What I wish I had learned (or accepted, people had told me this my whole life!) earlier is that there can be a balance, which largely comes as a result of achieving financial freedom. I did NOT save enough money, I did NOT earn enough money and I did NOT take advantage of readily available opportunities to improve my financial situation. As a result, the “fun train” was derailed, as I did not have enough money to do the things that I desired as I grew older and more mature. While my friends went on tons of trips and had shared experiences, I was forced to stay home and work on weekends to pay the rent. Fortunately, my job still had me traveling and having an amazing time, but I did not have the discretionary income for non “business” travel.

What you don’t realize in your 20s is that life will become increasingly more expensive, more challenging and more difficult. You will inherently have less time – which means you will need more money to buy more time. If you choose to have kids, your life will become exponentially more expensive and far busier. Free time disappears almost completely. If you want more free time, you have to buy it – by paying for childcare and people to clean and handle the other tasks that fill your time.

The most important reason to work hard and earn money is not so that you have to work harder and earn more money – it is so that you can buy more time for things that truly matter. Time with my family and loved ones having new experiences is the best thing money can buy. They won’t always be here, and neither will you.

On your death bed, do you think you will look back and think “I really wish I had bought that car I wanted,” or “I really wish I had taken a few more vacations with my wife and kids?” Interviews with older wealthy people almost always focus on the latter. Regrets never come in the form of material things never bought – they came in the form of experiences never had. People always seem to regret working too much at the expense of time with their family and friends.

Trading is a hard way to make a living – nearly impossible. That said, if you are good at it, it’s a great additional source of income, which can help you to find the financial freedom to buy yourself more time. If you do decide to trade, do not do it at the detriment of your simple investing strategy. Trade with a small portion of your portfolio.

Create multiple streams of income and save as much as possible, as young as possible. It’s really that simple, if you can manage it. Then you’ll be able to buy yourself time when you truly need it, and you will not live with regret over opportunities and experiences missed.