Macro Economics
Enjoy What You Do for a Lifetime

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By jgc123
September 21, 2009

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When I was about 16, my Dad's ex-law partner came to visit from Washington, D.C. By way of background, Dad's first job after WWII and law school was with a large Washington, D.C. law firm. He apparently spent much of his time defending a large corporation against anti-trust suits.

Then in 1955 he was vacationing in rural Northern Neck, VA when a country lawyer asked him why he was killing himself fifty weeks per year just so he could vacation in the Northern Neck two weeks per year.

Dad went home to Mom and she said, "why indeed?" So Dad left the big firm, took about a 90% pay cut, and joined the country practice in the Northern Neck.

About 16 years after, when I was about 16, his ex-law partner came to visit us for a weekend. The partner had stayed at the big firm. He sailed down the river in his yacht. The sailing was done by a hired hand. He brought along trophy wife number 3. Trophy Wife 3, upon seeing our home, commented, 'what a cute little summer cottage you have'.

After their weekend visit was over, I asked Dad about the practice he had left behind. He said that it was a higher dollar, higher stress practice that would have earned more money but would likely have killed him at a younger age. He concluded by telling me that his country practice did not earn a lot of money, but he could sleep at night and his boys could hunt and fish and play sports and roam the county without fear of harm. He concluded by telling me that even if he could not afford to retire, he could enjoy what he did for a lifetime.

Now I am back to thinking that my career, my ability to work and my health are my only real investments. My house may be a gamble. My stocks may be a gamble. My cottage may be a gamble. My savings may be a gamble. My health and my career may be my most reliable investments.

Maybe that's the way is should be. Maybe my stress has been the result of pretending I was a member of the 'investor class'. Maybe I should get back to enjoying my work and family and not counting too heavily on my investments.