A year of reflection

This post won’t be like the previous ones – it’s not even about markets really.

It’s been an interesting year, with a lot of changes.  I’m finally settling into a new normal, a new direction in life, and a new outlook in general.  

The easiest way to describe it is to start from the beginning I suppose.  When I started this blog back in 2009, it was partly to start a new outlet for talking about stocks.  I had been an active member of Motley Fool for years, subscribing to their Hidden Gems and later Global Gains newsletters, but after a layoff I stopped paying for investment newsletters.  I went to free sources which then was Rosenberg, then moved on to Mauldin and others, along with regular magazines like Foreign Affairs and the Economist.  I was going through an MBA program at USC, determined to get into the world of finance.

After graduating in December 2010 (I accelerated a bit after my layoff, my first year was part time after work), the finance world was in complete disarray.  I was competing with people with years of experience, laid off from big financial firms, for a greatly reduced number of jobs.  Needless to say it didn’t work and I eventually got a short term construction project at a refinery upgrade in Indiana.  

After that was completed, I got the opportunity to start my own business in LED lighting with a friend.  It was my big chance to really put my MBA training to work along side my construction background.  Plus, I had amazing credit with which to finance the thing.

So around a year ago, I was applying for jobs like crazy.  I probably focused a bit too much on the public sector – that’s where the best jobs are – but I faced the same environment of tons of applications and little to no response, and I finally ended up with a low level temp job a few months later.  I transferred Syren LED completely to my business partner (who already got a side job in sales), filed for bankruptcy and moved on.  

A few months later a friend from USC hooked me up with a tile company where I’m working today.  At first I was concerned about making less than any job I had in the 2000’s in a time of high rents and rising costs, and I couldn’t help benchmarking my progress against my parents when they were my age.

That’s where the big change comes in.  I’ve been seeing friends a lot thou past year and doing what I love most – travel.  I got to see Athens and some Greek islands, Hawaii, had visits to my good friends amazing Ochentos restaurant in Ensenada, saw friends in Laguna for snorkeling and live bands, saw friends in Oceanside to hit the beach, saw the Chargers, Angels and Bruins live… my life is pretty amazing.  

I realized that life doesn’t have to be a cookie-cutter thing with nice cars, houses, wife, kids, fancy retirement and all that.  For less than one months rent in my little studio apartment, I can travel pretty much anywhere.  So why set up roots?  Who needs them?

I really fit in well with the people at work, and I absolutely love the small business atmosphere where you can be a human being instead of a beaurocratic “human resource” at some dehumanizing corporation. 

I also realized that I’m in the prime of my life right now.  I have no health problems and a unique combination of time and money that’s really hard to come by.  The reason it’s hard to come by is the abuse of the “exempt employee” status for all white collar workers that says they work for free after hitting 40 hours in a week, so that companies expect at least 50.  As an hourly employee, they’re happy if I only put in 40 and thus avoid overtime pay.  Also, without the paid vacation system, I can ask for 3 day weekends or mini-vacations whenever as long as I get my work done – they don’t get tallied in a beaurocratic system, I just simply only get paid when I’m there.

Anyway, I already have plans to hit the Mediterranean again next May starting in Barceona this time, plans to go back to lovely Ensenada over thanksgiving, plans for snowboarding Saturdays in the winter…

Life is too short and the world’s an enormous and amazing place.  Go out and experience it!
Afterword:  I’m not sure how I’ll focus this blog – economics, science and technology, travel, or just make it a kind of personal journal. All I know is that I love to write and I’ll never give that up.

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About johnonstocks

I've been trading stocks since 2003, active on Motley Fool's discussion boards and using first Hidden Gems, then Global Gains. I no longer have the newsletters, but I keep up on the WSJ and read David Rosenberg everyday at gluskinsheff.com. Education: CFA level 2 candidate MBA-focus in Finance, Marshall, University of Southern California - expected Dec 2010. BS Mechanical Engineering, UC San Diego, June 2002
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