Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Big News (and today is my birthday)

...and that can mean only one thing. Today is the Victoria Secret Fashion Show on CBS. As if it wasn't bad enough missing football.

Every year about this time I start reflecting on my life. It begins with Thanksgiving, where I realize I need to be more thankful for winning life's lottery. It continues on my birthday, where I reflect on the direction of my life. And it culminates on New Year's Eve, when I review the past year and make sure it achieved my goal of "better than the year before."

As you can see, December is often a time of deep contemplation, and I've been thinking an awful lot about my life lately. I've been accomplishing a lot, but sometimes I have not been happy with the direction. I feel like I paid my dues living on Riverside Drive for seven years in a small apartment and missing out on things to stay cheap and save money, and I'm ready to collect. This is part of what has been behind this last year of insanity. Going forward, I don't think I can pay more dues with another two years of business school and two more suffering in a high paying job that insures I never seen my friends or family. That was the plan, after all. Suffer as a banker for two to three years then get out of the game. Live incredibly cheap, save two years of banker salary plus two years of lawyer salary, and then get out of the game. But it will make me miserable. I can achieve the same thing without banking, it will just take longer. I calculate about ten years longer, but I wouldn't lose four years to unhappiness.

What makes me happy? Friends. Fireplaces. A dog. A camera. Investing my own way. That is the good life. I think I was smart to come up with the suffering plan knowing I could get out of the game altogether at 30, but I think it would have been a miserable four years, and the opportunity cost of being in business school isn't negligible. I also don't feel like being away from Sarah for another five months, and I worry about the strain that would put on the marriage. Is it worth it?

For these reasons, I've decided to delay business school for another year. I plan to live my current degree program, and go back to Austin with Sarah. I will concentrate on managing our investments, building my firm Citadel, and writing for the Motley Fool. When she graduates law school in May, we will be able to move right away to wherever she gets the best job offer (likely Austin or Dallas). I still plan to leave cheaply for two years before buying a house.

It is time to start living life the way I want to rather than worry about impressing other people. Warren Buffett was talking to some kid from HBS a little while ago who was talking about taking a job he really wouldn't like for a few years because it would really boost his resume (my guess is that the firm was probably McKinsey, which these days is an incubator for Fortune 500 CEOs). Warren told him he was crazy. He said to do what he loved, and as smart as he is, the money would follow. It may not be as much, but he would do just fine and would be much happier. He compared taking the job to "saving up sex for your old age. It doesn't make any sense."

I think this new plan makes much more sense. I think I will be far happier, and the nice thing about this plan is that there is a nice plan B. If it doesn't work out, or if I regret my decision, I can always pick up where I left off. My GMAT score is good for five years. I have five years to finish my degree. I can pick up classes again any time, and I can start working on my applications again in August and be in on early decision, and the next August it is off to the races. In fact, my application will be much stronger because I will be older (right now I'm too young) and I will have more private sector experience.

That means living in Austin and running my company. Sounds happy indeed.


Mom said...


Is it worth the strain on the marriage? NO WAY - no matter what the long term benefits may or may not be.

I am happy you will be together in Austin for the Spring.

Good decisions, indeed.

You are so insightful for your age.

We love you.

tales_from_the_crib said...

yeah! texas! maybe we can see you agains?

Travel Girl said...

I found your blog recently and have enjoyed keeping up with your travels. I rarely comment on blogs but felt I needed to say a word. It's okay to be happy. I can tell that you are going to do just fine no matter what direction you head. If you are miserable just thinking of doing something, it's not the right thing to do. I'm glad you are trusting your own judgment.
P.S. I love your photos.