Note from Patrick: I'm excited to introduce Ben as a new contributing writer at WSO! A Wharton graduate, Ben has worked full-time in both investment banking and private equity.
Today I woke up at 10:30am. Right on time.
I stayed up later than I planned last night because the party was way better than expected. That happens a lot in Brazil. But I still had time to write for an hour and walk Copacabana beach for a bit before my yoga class. Now I've got a solid two hours to get some work done before heading to the gym at 3pm.
At age 26, I live on the beach in Rio de Janeiro with some of my closest friends. I have 100% control over my time. And I am happy every single day.
I can't say that about myself when I was in finance.
If you are on this site, you are one of the most intelligent, driven, hard-working people on the planet. You can succeed at anything. Which means if you are interested, you can live your dream life.
Not in 5 or 10 years. Starting today.
It was an old WSO post by Eddie that inspired me to pursue my dream life. I'd like to help do the same for you.
It wasn't always this way.
For years I would wake up every weekday at 7:45am, put on a suit and tie, and sleep-walk from the subway to the office. Sometimes I only worked a 10 hour day. Other days I worked through the night and into the next morning. If I was lucky, I'd find time to slink into our office's unlit coat closet, lay down on the floor, and sneak one hour of glorious sleep.
My worst 7-day stretch I worked 136 hours. If you do the math on that, it isn't pretty.
In banking, a week like that is completely unremarkable. It's normal. Thousands upon thousands of the world's best and brightest sign up to do the same year after year.
The most dangerous part is, you get used to it.
I adjusted to my new normal. I got used to cancelling plans, being in the office on the weekend, and working during vacations.
But occasionally, I would get an entire weekend free. I would remember how enjoyable life could be. And when it would end, I'd begrudgingly put on my suit and tie, commute to the office, and ask myself "WHY AM I DOING THIS WITH MY LIFE?"
I didn't start college wanting to be an investment banker. But the pull of finance recruiting is strong. When recruiting came around, I saw all my friends and peers competing for these jobs. It made me want one too. Plus no other job really called to me, and I thought finance would be a great way for me to keep my options open and learn about a variety of industries.
Fast forward two years and I'm atdoing M&A. Fast forward two more and I'm at a PE megafund.
I was living the Wharton dream. Both companies were stellar. Truly the best I could have hoped for in their respective industries.
But when a new assignment would roll in, I didn't get excited. Reformatting the colors in a powerpoint deck, calculating cash repatriation costs by country, I didn't take joy in my day-to-day tasks. I didn't hate it, but I couldn't look someone in the eye and tell them "this is the best year of my life, I've never been happier".
So I started asking myself questions.
What do I care about? What makes me smile? What makes me feel alive?
Was I living in a way that allowed me to spend my time doing those things?
Nope. And if I kept on this path, I wouldn't live that way for a long, long time.
What did I want? I wanted to enjoy my days, have complete control over my time, and be able to live where I wanted and travel when I wanted. And I wanted to make enough money to cover all my expenses without passing up on any experiences because of cost.
I started thinking, what could I do to get my dream life ASAP?
I found a friend with the same aspirations and we started writing together online. We wrote about courage, charisma, confidence, honesty, anything we thought was important to an awesome life. How to become the type of guy people are drawn to.
Eventually, we created Charisma On Command. I left my job and started coaching charisma and confidence full-time. We moved to live on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro.
I stopped making decisions that conform to expectations and started making the decisions that my dream life requires.
How are things now?
Money is totally up in the air and I have absolutely no idea how much I'll make this year. My job has zero prestige. I've added chaos and uncertainty into my life, to the point where I have no idea where I'll be living 12 months from now.
And I've never been happier or healthier in my life.
What about you?
What percent of your time are you happy? Really happy, as in you have a smile plastered ear-to-ear.
When do you feel most alive?
The majority of people I met in finance in their 20's and 30's do not love their jobs. Many would admit as much. But they take solace in the doors it leaves open and the money, and they talk about how life will be better a few years from now.
There are other avenues for money generation. Life can be good today AND years from now.
I'm not saying that everyone should start their own business. Definitely not. For some of you, entrepreneurship is not for you. For some of you, travelling the world is not for you.
But for some of you, waking up at the same time every day and going into an office where somebody else tells you what to do is not for you.
I don't know what your ideal is, but you do. So, what is your dream life?
You are the rare type of person that can actually succeed at whatever you put your mind to. If you go hard at what you want, you will get it. Don't chase anyone's dream but your own. Life is yours to design however YOU want to.
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