The Quest for More
“More“. Such was the reply of Bretton James (Josh Brolin) to Jake Moore (Shia LaBeouf) in the movie Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, when the young trader asked the older ambitious investment banker how much money he could possibly want.
“More” seems to be the philosophy of the current world we live in. Commercials bombard us with new gadgets, better phones, faster cars. Reality shows are full of aspiring actors, singers, dancers and other performing artists. Youtube is full of would-be influencers, showing how to do things better, how to live better lives, how to be smarter, thinner, stronger, stylish, and everyone makes it look like they are just “living the good life“.
In our sector, we see pundits showing how their trading allows them to work from the beach and make small fortunes every day. Consequently, everyone rushes over to the financial markets in order to achieve what the world says we need. Trading looks like the way towards having “more“.
My question for you is this: do we actually need MORE?
What I Want More Of
My grandmother once told me a story of the pre-war period: it seemed that everyone wanted larger houses, larger property, a car (she said that back then, a car was something of a luxury), and shorter working days. Sound familiar? Times change, locations change but human impulses remain largely the same. People tend to want MORE.
Above all else, the quest for more money is probably predominant. In fact, the most common reason that drives aspiring traders to the financial markets is money. They want to work less and make more money because for some reason having a normal household, with a wife and children even, and being able to take one or two vacations per year isn’t enough.
But you can’t really blame them! Nowadays the world launches messages of guilt from all angles:
- If you’re even slightly overweight, it’s not good enough. You’re not attractive. You’re not worthy of attention.
- If you don’t have a sleek car, you’re not good enough. You’re not cool.
- If you don’t have a social media account, nobody will ever know who you are and you will never amount to much.
- If you don’t upgrade your phone at least once a year, you’ll be missing out.
and my personal favorites:
- If you work a 9-5 job, you’re a nobody.
- Only trading can really give you the lifestyle you want.
Can I say that all of the above is not only false, but the way these messages play with your mind and your emotions is deceitful. So repeat after me:
who I am and the talents I have are more than enough. And that’s the truth.
The world needs all kinds of different people with different skills and passions in order to function. Can you imagine if everyone were to drop what they do and try to become movie stars? Who would bake the bread we eat? Who would cure our ailments in the hospitals? Who would build the houses we live in?
Being famous? Being on the radar? Being a “somebody”? Can I say it’s all over-rated? I appreciate the humble: the hard working souls that follow their calling, keep their heads down, remain under the radar and help our world go round.
So here’s what I want MORE of:
- more introspection: learn MORE about who you are and the talents you possess;
- more integrity: identify your values and act in line with those values;
- more humility: be grafetul for what you have and make the most of it;
- more discipline: don’t be swayed by your impulses or by the guilt messages of the world, and keep doing what you know is right;
- more history: remember where we came from, remember the lessons that can be learned from the experience of the elderly and from those who came before us.
In short, I want you to seek MORE MEANING – not more visibility. I want you to live a fulfilling life – not a life full of stuff.
My grandmother continued her story as follows: you see, the women wanted larger houses but they didn’t stop to realize that larger houses meant more work to keep the house clean. And larger gardens or farms meant longer working days to keep everything in order. Some people got what they wanted (the upgrades) only to find out they had less time to appreciate what they had, and ultimately were unsatisfied.
People want MORE, without taking into account the additional work and costs that it takes to maintain that new status.
The Right Kind of Work
Bringing all this back to trading and the markets is the concept of work. Most aspiring traders want to work less and make more money. Some actually think that as traders we can make our own hours (when in fact we need to follow the market’s rhythm). Let me say this loud and clear: human beings need to work in order to remain of a sound mind.
But wherever you look nowadays, it seems that the good old 9 to 5 job is for losers. Why put up with office politics? Why put up with the commute to work? Just drop everything and become a cool trader and make millions each year. Of course, that’s a false trail and unfortunately some people believe that message and take the plunge, only to find themselves in a much worse place.
So let’s talk about work. In the natural, all living things must work to survive. For most species of animals and plants, “work” is a synonym of “survival”. Even for our ancestors, “work” meant finding food and shelter. Our current society has certainly come a long way from there, but our needs are not that different.
- We must work, to provide for ourselves and our families.
- We each have unique skills, gifts and talents that call us towards particular roles and activities.
- Quality work is what we should strive for: we are responsible for how we work and whether we maintain our integrity.
- Our work should positively impact others, whether we are providing a service or a product.
Humans are naturally born curious, dynamic and in a variety of shapes and talents. We can see that best in children because they are less bound by culture and social norms. Humans are made to create new things. In a way, we are born to work because it gives us meaning and a sense of purpose.
People that enjoy what they do, continue to work even when they don’t need to (just like the Canadian farmer from a previous article). For example, many retired university professors continue to teach, lecture, advise students, perform professional service and do research, just maybe at a more leisurely pace. Also, many people who are still in the labor force do lots of unpaid work that looks very similar to paid labor, whether that’s caring for children, teaching, or creating art. Finally, there’s volunteer work, which bring us closest to our natural instincts to help and serve one another, and we feel great when we do it.
I believe we need to work on something in our lifetime. Just that we should strive to work on tasks of our choosing, not on paid jobs with which we only barely identify with, if at all.
What are you sacrificing, personally, emotionally, physically, in your quest for “more”? Are you sacrificing your integrity – going against your ethics – just to keep a job position that is paying well? Sooner or later, you might face some kind of identity crisis and have to seek the support of a specialist to align your values, motives and find your footing again.
Or perhaps you are working 2 or 3 jobs, in the pursuit of “more”, sleeping very few hours each night and gradually wearing yourself out. Sooner or later, your body will catch up with your regime and you will most likely have to give back that extra cash in exchange for medicine.
I suggest taking some time to really think about the path your life is on. Strip things down to the bare essentials. What do you actually NEED? If you can cover the basic necessities like a roof over your head, good food to eat, and clean clothing then the rest should all be considered “extra” and as such, chosen with care. Instead, the world bombards us with commercials and we frequently end up buying things we don’t really need with money we don’t really have to impress people we will never meet.
I have received emails – even recently – from aspiring traders asking what the quickest way to get profitable is, because they have credit card debt to pay off, student loans or simply unsustainable financial situations. I give them the hard truth: you need risk capital to trade in the markets. And if you have debt and you’re living paycheck to paycheck, trading is simply out of the question. First you need to reorganize your personal life. The usual steps are nothing more than common sense:
be willing to live uncomfortably for a season, so you can experience freedom in the long term.
Here are the first necessary steps:
- cut all unnecessary spending: magazine subscriptions, eating out, Starbucks coffee…you name it. Annualize all these expenses and see just how much they are impacting you.
- review your car insurance, life insurance, phone plan, energy plan, cable/internet plan, bank fees on an annual basis: can you save 5-10% by switching?
- create a monthly budget and stick to it. You will soon find out where your money is going, and take appropriate action.
All these steps may seem isignificant in the short-term, but they work like compound interest: they add up over time to significant amounts. Pay off your debts, owe nothing, and save up. And if you really need to increase your income, my best advice is:
be the best employee you can possibly be. Keep your integrity and be the adult in the room. Believe that sooner or later, someone will take notice. Or apply for internal transfers to posts that are more akin to your talents.
Only after doing your absolute best, should you consider a side-job…and usually I’d suggest something aligned with your hobbies or passions. Can you play an instrument? Perhaps you can teach it. Are you a good writer? Perhaps you can write a book, or correct other people’s writing as a freelancer. Are you good with languages? There’s always a need to learn languages so you can probably teach them.
If you start to reduce your excess spending, and embrace sacrifice, you will end up with more of the stuff that counts: more discipline, stronger values, more appreciation for what you do have and a realization of how much superfluous goes around.
And if you’re seeking work, go find that calling; align your work with your interests and passions, and as Confucius said “you will never have to work a day in your life”.
Where Trading Fits In
Ask anyone who manages money and they will tell you that trading is probably one of the most stressful jobs in the world, and they will probably discourage you from going down that same route – unless you have a true passion for the markets.
I once asked a successful fund manager why he didn’t just trade his own money. He said that the stressful nature of the business is just not worthwhile. If you can trade, then it makes sense to make it a business and get more bang for your buck.
Make no mistake: there’s nothing easy about trading the markets. It requires acumen, discipline and passion – because drawdowns will happen and you will always need to remain steadfast and work your way through them.
We can give you the tools to successfully trade the markets. But at the end of the day, you shouldn’t be looking into trading unless you truely have a passion for the financial markets and I dare say games of chance. If you’re in a job that you dislike, and are turning to trading just for the promise of more money, less work and more free time, I strongly suggest you stop and figure out whether you actually like it or identify with it. Otherwise, it’s just another job that has no meaning to you.
Let me repeat this again. I believe we need to work on tasks of our choosing, not on paid jobs with which we only barely identify with, if at all. Trading should be something you choose to do because it interests you and you like it. You should also naturally be good at it, if it’s truely a talent of yours. I’m saying this not as a casual observer, but because everyone that has successfully come through my coaching/mentoring sessions proved this point.
Over to You
Give a man 200 Million dollars, and he will probably still try to find a way to make more. A very wealthy money manager once said “The more money you make, the more you lose your personal freedom. You will start to attract negative influences who are surrounding you just because of your money, not because they are your friends. You will tend to become a slave to your money and it will dictate your life.” Once again, we’re hearing my grandmother’s lesson in different wording: the more you have, the more time, effort and dedication it takes to preserve and maintain it.
There is a balance. The quest for “more” is simply an illusion. So don’t try to keep up with the Joneses and instead live your own life and run your own race. Try to find meaninfgul work and if that brings you to the financial markets, then great – welcome aboard!
About the Author
Justin is a Forex trader and Coach. He is co-owner of www.fxrenew.com, a provider of Forex signals from ex-bank and hedge fund traders (get a free trial), or get FREE access to the Advanced Forex Course for Smart Traders. If you like his writing you can subscribe to the newsletter for free.
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