I have already written about this early in the year, the most important discovery in your life is when you start discovering your values. Once you sense what they are, then the next most important step is that you shall act within your values. Some people call this "being in the flow". I like this idea, where if you act within your flow, you can achieve so much more than if you act against the current, following other people's principles which are not necessarily aligned with yours. If you associate yourself with people who have opposite values, it's a recipe for at the very least disappointment, more likely disaster. Keep away from people with different values, eject them from your life. That's the advice of an old man 😉
Once you know your values and act accordingly, the next phase is to get good habits. This is also a subject I discussed earlier this year, you may want to revisit. Habits are extremely important because they are the foundation for what comes next. They are what you do in auto-pilot, and you want to be sure the "You" in auto-pilot is not screwing-up the "You" who is from time to time in control when the reptilian and the mammal brain of "You" give "You" a break, a few minutes per day... 🤭
Ok, if you are with me until now, you surely still wonder: what is the secret? First, let me tell you a recent story.
A few days ago, a 30 year old guy was trading the market from his house in Toronto, Canada. He had $77,000 on his account, and was used to trade stocks and sometimes currencies. But on 20th April 2020, he felt the urge of trading an unmissable deal of the century. Oil price, which never went below $20 a barrel for as long as this guy and internet could remember, started to crumble. The odds seemed so much in his favour that he spent $2,400 snapping up a few Crude Oil May Future Contracts initially at $3.30 a barrel, but then at $0.50. But Oil prices did not want to settle there and continued to dip. At $0.01 per barrel, he "splashed" a few dollars to buy 212 future contracts of 1,000 barrels each, for the deal of a lifetime. Surely oil contracts would go back up from $0.01, even if only to $5... 🤑 One deal of a few thousand dollars and he gets secured for life! Who cares if future contracts aren't exactly like stock when the deal of a lifetime knocks on your door?
But then came two problems.
First, Oil did not settle at $0, as I have already dissected, the madness continues and oil went less than worthless. It crashed to minus $40 or around. I let you calculate the value of 200+ contracts of 1,000 barrels at minus $40... The regulator of this market had in fact warned a week earlier that they would let oil price go below zero if it had to go there (a good indication for those in the know 🥳). Of course, when you have the urge, you do not check all conditions associated with the market, the small prints, and the latest news from the regulator... When you have the urge, you bypass all your good processes and you jump.
Second, this part is this guy's downfall and saving grace in the end. The platform he was trading from, which happens to be exactly the same as mine, had a bug that did not allow the display of negative oil prices and therefore did not calculate correctly any margin call in case oil price would go negative. In some respect, it's difficult to blame a platform for not planning for negative prices, but hey... they had a bug! So our trader-in-the-urge never saw from his trading platform that oil price was going dow like a falling knife. It's only when he received an email the day after that his $77,000 trading account was now negative $9,000,000 that the urge turned into panic. The trading platform had a bug which trashed all the good processes put around retail trading accounts. The platform, Interactive Brokers, were in for over $100,000,000 of losses on their "clients-who-got-the-urge" accounts.
If you have not seen me coming yet, here it is. The big secret is this: build good processes, and build a good process improvement system on top. Forget financial goals, build good processes instead. Forget life goals, build a good process improvement system instead. And forget the urge of the deal of a lifetime!
I am frankly NOT joking. You want a better life in the Covid new world? Build processes that work and reward you, and then build a process improvement system that keeps improving what you have.
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Remember that life is a long journey. A good life is allowed by its good foundations. Easy to describe, not so easy to achieve, but here you have it:
- Know your values and act as per your values
- Build good habits on top of your values
- Build good processes on top of values and habits
- Build a good process improvement mechanism on top of processes
- Do not bother about results, they are a byproduct of the four points above
To your journey!