Taking Stock

Taking Stock

In any journey, the half-way mark is always an interesting – and symbolic milestone. Even more so this year as we navigate our way through a tumultuous 2020.

Not that long ago, we were busy writing up our New Year’s resolutions. Those Australian wildfires were going to be THE story of the year.

Next thing you know, six months have passed. The world couldn’t look more different.

And more likely than not, our resolutions have been scattered by the winds of Covid disruption.

For me, the half-year mark is special in an additional way – because that’s when I happen to celebrate my birthday.

This year, I am starting the final countdown to the big 4-0. A date significant enough to put anyone in a contemplative mood.

Looking Back

I celebrated my 25th birthday in the popular fashion of the times. Surrounded by friends. Bottle service at an exclusive nightclub. An equally posh afterparty lasting well into the morning.

It was an obnoxiously expensive celebration – and even more so in the context of my income in those days.

Worth every penny.

The 30th was a strikingly different affair.

The day was a Monday and I was in my second week of a summer internship with one of the big banks in London.

I finally wrapped up work at 4 am – then headed back to my corporate flat, crashed for 3 hours of sleep, and was back in the office by 8 the following day.

To make matters worse, that same day two good friends of mine were tying the knot in the Caribbean.

Everyone in our social group was there, including my wife. There was no point in making her suffer with me in London.

Instead of living it up under the palm trees, I was busy signing up for a modern-day version of indentured servitude.

No regrets either.

Landing that internship was an inflection point – in my career as well as in my wealth-building journey.

The next nine years were filled with a variety of successes and setbacks.  In retrospect, the former were greater in number while the latter would almost always seem inconsequential after a passage of time.

The bottom line is that you can spend all the time in the world reflecting on how things unfolded in the past.

But it doesn’t matter.

Because the only thing that matters is what happens next. And that’s exactly the point to keep in mind as we crack open the second half of the year.

(Re-) Gaining Momentum

At this point, you probably find yourself in one of two camps.

The first camp will have knocked their resolutions out of the park. Achieved and over-delivered. Crossed things off and are already looking forward to the next challenge.

If that’s you – well done! Because that’s certainly not me – and I’ll bet it’s not the other 99% of folks either.

The other camp will be somewhere between failing miserably – or making not nearly enough progress against those lofty goals set on December 31st.

I’m not a fan of resolutions – at least in the conventional sense.

For the most part, they are unachievable – at least in the time frame people envisage.

They also happen to be binary. Even a brief relapse somehow wipes out weeks and months of good work.

There’s also the issue of them set out as accomplishments and not habits.

Losing ten pounds is an accomplishment. Cutting junk food out of your diet is a habit. So is exercising three times a week.

Accomplishments feel good. They also come and go. Habits stick – and make a massive difference over long periods of time.

Walking Start

But the biggest issue with new year’s resolutions isn’t any of the above.

It’s the implication that each year, you only get one shot at the goal. And that is simply not true.

Now is as good a time as any to dust off that aspirational list from six months ago.

To pick one thing – and one thing only. And to focus 100% of your efforts on doing that one thing.

It’s okay if you do it at half the intensity. It’s okay if you miss a day – or a couple. Instead of beating yourself up and binning the whole thing, just give it your best shot the following day.

Be kind to yourself – but persistent at the same time. By the time August rolls around, you may well be surprised at how much progress you’ve made.

Rolling Back

As lockdown restrictions are being lifted around the world, it’s worthwhile revisiting your personal finances.

If you’ve paused your regular contributions when the stock market was tanking, no need to beat yourself up now. What’s done is done.

Turn the tap back on. Reflect on your risk profile. Perhaps re-balance your investments towards bonds to give you a bit more of a cushion in the next downturn.

Job situation felt wobbly all of a sudden? Around of Zoom layoffs will make anyone feel that way.

Now is the perfect time to refresh that career strategy – and revitalize your network along the way.

Been neglecting your health?  You know what to do.

Gyms might not reopen for another couple of weeks (at least here in the UK) but there’s no shortage of Youtube workouts to do in the comfort of your own home.

Not only looking after yourself will make you feel better, but it will also give you more energy to make money – and enjoy the fruits of your labour.

But whatever you do, don’t let those temporary “lockdown” changes become the new normal.

Most importantly – have no regrets.

Sure, the first six months may not have gone to plan. But agonizing over it is pointless.

In the words of Gary Vee:

“Looking backwards messes with your neck.”

So celebrate your successes instead – and focus on what you can do from now onwards.

Here’s to a wonderful second half of 2020!

About Banker On FIRE

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Banker On FIRE is a London-based M&A (mergers and acquisitions) investment banker.  I am passionate about capital markets, behavioural economics, financial independence and living the best life possible.

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8 Comments

  1. Happy birthday BOF

    I do feel like I’m somewhat coasting atm but not in a negative way really. More in a contented way. I’m sure I should be taking more risk and pushing my career as I’m only 39 (big 40 in November!) but I’m just not unhappy enough to change things up at the moment. Is this bad? Maybe. I think it’s one of the potential downsides with pursuing fire (at least for me) I know I’ve probably laid the ground work for making a decent stab of retiring by 50 and I feel like I’m in the home stretch now and all I need to do is coast there. Probably not the right attitude!

    I value less stress over more money. I still have challenges and goals but it really career or money wise. I just can’t get myself fired up

    • Thanks FBA. Turns out you’re just six months ahead of me!

      It’s all about the balance really. Kind of like waking up on a Monday morning and feeling like slacking off – but then you start working up through your to-do list, gain some momentum, squeeze in a workout – and by the time 6 pm rolls around, you feel very content with everything you’ve accomplished.

      The big fear I always have is of being “disrupted”. Hence I prefer to “disrupt” myself every once in a while by pursuing a new role / developing a new skill set or even setting a challenging personal goal.

      Getting there is painful at times but also very enjoyable in retrospect.

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