Chipotle Mexican Grill – or why I no longer listen to Investor’s Business Daily

This is the fourth out of four posts about dipping my toes into Options trading. My first post was about understanding the mechanics of trading an option, the second about a trade of Microsoft, and the third about Royal Caribbean cruise lines. In this fourth post, I decide to up the ante and make some real money.

I am an avid podcast listener. I listen in the car while driving, while I mow the lawn, or as I drift off to sleep at night. I listen to a handful of podcasts about the financial markets. One of them, Investor’s Business Daily, comes out on Saturday’s and talk about winners and losers of the previous week. In one episode, they discuss the upcoming earnings announcement for Chipotle Mexican Grill.

Chipotle has really been on a tear this year. The stock is performing quite nicely. Certainly good things will be coming out of the announcement, and I would expect the option price to rise significantly.

A little history about stocks I purchased based on the Investor’s Business Daily podcast. I made a mistake investing in one of their recommendations before (First Solar), but I blamed myself as I got out too early. You see, it tanked almost immediately once I bought it, and triggered by stop order (a way to get out of losing stocks before you lose your shirt). Afterwards, the sucker shot briefly to the moon, and I would have done quite well. I decided to jump on Chipotle.

I plugged some numbers into my option spreadsheet, and thought they looked pretty good. I should note that I review 10 to 20 stocks for each one I buy, so I do tend to be picky about what I invest in. I had a great price on an option for a stock that was doing well. I purchase the options one morning and then the price shoots up to almost double what I paid for it! I have the chance to double my money in just a few hours! Now, here is where the expression “timing is everything” comes into play. I work during the day on the West coast and don’t get to follow the stock market that closely. I noticed the price and decided to sell, however the clock showed that it was already 12:59 PST. I had 60 seconds to get in my order before the market closed and it took 65. Drats. That’s okay, though, I can always sell the next day.

Guess what? I came in the next morning and the DOW was down 200 points. My option was completely out of the money.

Wait, what does that mean? You can lose money investing in stocks, but most of the time you will be able to sell the stock for at least some amount of money. For example, if I buy at $10 and it drops to $1, I can still sell for $1 and at least get something back. If an option expires out of the money (the right to purchase a share for $45 when you can buy it for $40 on the open market), then you get nada, zip, zilch, nothing. You lose all of your money.

I probably checked on the market every two minutes all morning. Please, please, please, Chipotle, rally on your good news! The stock started to got back up, and my option came back in the money, barely. I could sell it now for a 99% loss. What should I do? I decided that a 99% loss was awfully close to 100% loss and and that the best course of action was to wait more day to see if it would go up. By the way, that next day? That was the day the option would expire.

As luck would have it, the stock did go back up that next day by quite a lot. My option was back in the money. However, it never did get back to my original price, let alone the sky high one. I was able to close out with a moderate loss rather than a large one. That moderate loss, though, was on a much bigger investment. All of my gains from Microsoft and Royal Caribbean? Gone!

I think it was probably worse for me that I was 5 seconds away from doubling my money, then ended up losing all of my gains. To feel that close to a third straight success only to have the market move against me. I think I know how best to trade options now. I’ve updated my analysis tools and adjusted my time horizons. I am more deliberate about locking in wins and not worrying about the big payoffs. I am not an adrenaline junkie and I don’t need to be paranoid about losing everything / doubling my money in short time frames. I’ll leave that game to people investing other people’s money.

My last item of the day? I unsubscribed from the Investors Business Daily podcast.

Royal Caribbean Cruise lines – can history repeat itself?

This is my third of four posts about my experiences diving into option trading. In my first post, I discuss how I’ve been investing for a few years and wanted to dip my toes in the option trading market. My second post was about the MSFT roller coaster, and how I managed to earn a 30% return in a week. Coming off of that high, I really think option trading is for me.

I understand how the mechanics work, but researching good opportunities is still an open field. How do I find these options to invest in? Should I just keep investing in MSFT over and over again? This time, I decided to look for companies that were about to have an earnings call. My thought was increased scrutiny of a stock around earnings season creates extra volatility, which leads to greater options returns. Checking online, and plugging various options into my custom built option pricing spreadsheet, I found Royal Caribbean cruise lines (RCL) and decided to put in a buy.

So, Monday morning rolls around and my buy option executes. Last time, the prices would fluctuate constantly, so I decided to put in a limit order. Essentially, I put in an order to sell high above what it is trading at now. I don’t expect it to execute, but if the price rises I can get out quickly and lock in a profit.

I put in my order, thinking that there is no way this will execute today. My routine is that once I put in an order, I go look at the order status to make sure everything was entered correctly. By the time I got to order status (maybe three seconds after I sent in the order) it had already sold. I couldn’t believe it. I made a 15% return with about 10 minutes of effort.

I am the king!

I have figured out how to print my own money!

In next week’s episode, pride goeth before the fall.

MSFT call option – one week of nervousness

As I mentioned in my last post, I decided to dip my toes in the option trading market. I did some searching, put some numbers into a homemade spreadsheet, and decided that a call on MSFT was pretty appealing. Specifically, it was an option to buy MSFT at $45.50 a share.

I quickly snatched it up and started the process of watching the price fluctuate. I didn’t give myself a lot of time here, which may have been a mistake. It was going to expire in less than a week, and the price of the option went down every day after I bought it. Isn’t this just the way of things? It feels like whatever trade I attempt to make, the market moves against me.

Then, one day before the option was going to expire, the market had a banner day. All stocks seemed to rise and the DOW closed at a new high. I sold my option immediately and made a 36% return on my money.

Haha, and Hell yeah! I am a market timing maven. Look out world, there is a new player in town.

There was a little voice in my head, though, whispering “did you sell too soon?”

Oh Greed, how are you today? Unfortunately, greed, the market is now closed so I can’t do anything about that. Let’s just take our winnings home and call it a night.

The market dropped the next day. Boo Yeah! I got out when the getting was good.

What a great way to invest. I did some research, placed a good bet, and harvested at the right time. This is fun, and I should do this again.

In my next post, I attempt to sail the seven seas with an option position in Royal Caribbean Cruises (RCL). Will it be smooth sailing or abandon ship?

My first option post

One of the things I’ve learned as an adult is how to think about finances. Growing up, we didn’t talk about money, or how to grow your finances. For the most part, I heard “try to save” and “you’ll have more expenses as you get older.” I also heard “find a good job.” This is actually all good advice, but I know there is more to it than just that. My kids are still a bit too young to understand a lot of subtlety around finances, but we are talking about money, they earn their own money to spend how they want, and I hope they can hear me when I try to impart wisdom on money management.

So, with this post, I am starting to write about money. In some ways, this is merely a document of where I am in life right now, it’s also practice for me to get my thoughts written down so that I can eventually share them with the kiddos. I’ve recently dipped my toes into the option trading waters, and I thought it’d be fund to share some of those experiences. Before I dive fully into options, though, let me share my level of investing (non?) sophistication.

I work at an online stock brokerage. I work on the technology side, where I am less concerned about the business rules are more concerned about performance and reliability of our systems. At work, though, I have zero guilt about logging into my investment account, checking out the market, and placing trades. I’ve been adding funds to my account monthly and trying out various trades. To note, this is my learning or play account. Most of my investments are in a balanced portfolio of funds that I never touch. There, that was my disclaimer. To reiterate, this is my play account that I use to learn about investing. It’s money I can afford to lose without risking my retirement or livelihood. However, I didn’t get into this activity to lose money, so let’s bring in the dollars!

Once a month, I buy fractional shares in 9 different stocks and ETFs. This is called dollar cost averaging, and I will cover that in a later post. One of the products my firm offers is an easy to use tool for dollar cost averaging, and it’s been fun to use this tool over the years. I say “fun” because over time, all my stocks have risen in value and I’m in the green (made a profit) on everything. This doesn’t mean that I’m in the green every day. I check my portfolio a couple times a week, and check on how the market is performing daily. I’ve learned that some of my stocks are highly volatile. Just in this past month, I’ve been both down $200 and up $200 on just my shares of Netflix alone. A different, more industrial stock, PPG, doesn’t tend to change much on a given day and tends to reflect whatever is happening with the market in general. This is exactly the bahavior of stocks I learned in Finance class in business school. It’s been interesting to see this happen in real life, though, now that I have a stake in the game.

I remembered learning that the greater the volatility, the greater the potential profits from trading options. So, let’s trade some options!

What does trading options mean? In the simple case, buying an option means buying the right to purchase a stock at a fixed price in the future. Let’s say I like a stock, called “Extremely Awesome Corp” ticker symbol EAC. Let’s say I buy an option to buy shares for $45/share. If the stock is trading for $47/share, then I have the option to buy those shares and can choose to resell it right away to make a profit. It can get more complicated, but this is the simple “call” option type of trade.

I logged into my account, and tried to figure out pricing. Brokerages don’t usually trade for free. It turns out, that instead of buying shares, you buy option “contracts.” One contract is worth 100 shares. So, if I look at options to buy EAC for $45, I see that they are trading at $1.75. Does this mean if I pay $1.75 I can buy 100 shares of EAC for $45 each? Nope! I have to pay $175 ($1.75*100) for the right to buy those shares. Plus, I also have to pay a commission to my broker and an additional fee per contract. Let’s just assume that works out to $200 total. To make money on this trade, I need to price of EAC to go up enough so that the profit I get from exercising my option covers what I paid to buy the option and what I paid later ($4,5000 or $45*100 + commission) to get the stocks! That tends to be a bit more funds than I typically have sitting around in idle cash in my play account. However, there is another way to make money, which is just to sell the option. If I bought it for $1.75/contract and sell it for $2/contact I can make money that way without ever owning the stock itself.

This is exactly what I intend to do as I dip my toes in the option trading market. My next post will be about that first trade, 1 contract in Microsoft (MSFT), and how I fared.

New and improved goal setting

One of the things I take to heart is goal setting. I’ve found that during times when I don’t set goals, I find myself sitting on the couch watching three to four hours of movies or tv. Not that there is anything wrong with binge watching from time to time, but in the long run that doesn’t tend to make me a better person. When I set goals for myself, I tend to actively pursue them. This blog post is a story about failure.

The year 2014 was not the best year ever for me. At the start of every year, I set out my goals and make a plan to reach them. I tried to be less aggressive this year, and set 6 goals. I only hit two. Heck, I only came close to three of them! The other three I pretty much punted in May! Okay, so which goals did I accomplish?
1) I worked out 200 times in 2014. This is only a couple of times a week, but I wasn’t even sure I’d hit this goal until the last week of December. It’s amazing how little distractions can get in the way of even seemingly simple goals.
2) I completed and handed over my PTA Treasurer duties. This was somewhere between 8-20 hours of effort a week, especially during our busy periods. My term of office ended June 30th, so I was pretty confident going into the year that I would achieve this goal. Mostly, I made this a goal so that when I put in those 20 hour weeks, I felt like I was also making progress on a bigger goal.

My other goals were around various projects around the house I wanted to complete, or fun family activities, and the like. Essentially, my biggest activity of the year was work and keeping the house running. This is the first year where I really didn’t come close to my goals, and I’m feeling bad about that.

However, the eternal optimist that I am, I think back to the phrase “never waste a good crisis.” In the grand scheme of things, how bad is it that I didn’t hit my goals one year? One out of the 39 I’ve lived? It’s not bad, but maybe this is a good opportunity for reflection. A chance to think about changes in my life. Just because something worked for me in my 20s doesn’t mean it’ll still work for me today. So, what am I going to change? What am I going to do now?

My first change is to focus on shorter term goals. Only have one or two that I’m working on at a time, and make new ones periodically. There is a family photo and video project that I’ve been meaning to get around to for a while. My kids are only going to be this age once. With the amount of photos and videos I take due to having an iPhone on me at all times, it seems that the good moments aren’t focused on as much due to sheer quantity. Every year, I would like to summarize a sort of “best of” to have as a keep sake. This isn’t a hard activity so much as one I need to make time to do.

My second change is to set a simple, guiding purpose for the year. You can think of this one as almost the equivalent of a “Festivus Resolution”. For 2015, my goal is to drink more.

To give that statement some perspective, my monthly intake ranges between 0 and 4 drinks. I am a social drinker, and will join in during various festivities, but I don’t spend much time at the bar or drinking at home.

So, in 2015, I am going to drink more such as having a glass of wine with dinner and spending more time socially with people either at a bar or parties. I think the glass of wine is relaxing, and spending time with friends humanizing. I think that with this goal, by the end of 2015, I will be a better person. At least, I will be a better me, by my own standards.

Flash Fiction Friday (#2) – Cross Country

“Good bye, Honey” Blake Conlon says to his wife. Kneeling down in front of Keely, he says “Knock ‘em dead today, Sweetie. No one know as much about River Otters as you do.”
“Thanks, Dad” she says with tears in his eyes. “Good luck to you.”
“Sweetie” Blake says, “I feel terrible to be missing your presentation. You know I have to go to New York, it is part of my job. Do you want me to bring you back a snow globe?”
“Yes, please”, Keely hugs her dad fiercely, sobbing slightly.

Grabbing his overnight and laptop bags, Blake heads out to the door to catch his flight.

The cab, security, and boarding all went pretty smoothly. He waits as the plane reaches altitude, to pull out his laptop and start working. He only has about four hours of battery life and a five hour flight. He wants to update the error handling code in their PharmDataUploader application in order to catch a couple edge cases. This is the reason he is on the flight. Ever since being acquired, SaluSciens has been rewriting all of their code to run faster and be more resilient. He is set to present the new version of the product to senior management at the new parent company.

Signing in to the $30 airline wifi, thank you very much corporate card, Blake checks his email before diving in to programming. His inbox is filled with the basic noise he is used to, code drops, requests to fix bugs, announcements as to which taco truck will be on the corner this week. He checks out the most recent PharmDataUploader code from their source control system, and tries to focus.

The flight attendants pass out coffee and a nice, but tiny snack pack. These things are quite expensive, but within his daily meal per diem. Thank you, Corporate Card! Blake is able to balance his drink, snack, and as his laptop on the tiny tray, and is eventually able to finish a small portion of the code. As he is sometimes paranoid of losing code changes, Blake immediately checks in his code only to find that the plane’s internet connection is down. Darn it. This sucks.

The rest of the flight is uneventful as Blake continues to work on updating his code while also watching his laptop’s battery meter. It finally gives up as the plane begins to descend. Blake puts his laptop away, leans back in his seat and tries to stretch out his back. These stupid seats are really not ideal for software development.

Touching down, Blake grabs his cellphone and pulls up his hotel information. He will be taking a cab from Newark airport into New York city, getting settled, then meeting up with coworkers for dinner. It’ll be good to get a sense of what to highlight in his presentation tomorrow. They’ll probably hit one of those trendy sushi places, like Nobu tonight. Thank you, corporate card!

While having the cell phone in his hand, he checks the corporate email. Marked as urgent is a note from his divisional vice president saying that due to bad weather on the East Coast, they are canceling the presentations and that he should stay on the West Coast. Shoot!

After deplaning, Blake runs right to the airline counter, books passage back the way he came, literally on the same physical plane, and immediately runs back to grab his flight. He doesn’t have time to charge his laptop, or even get a book from the Hudson news stand.

The flight home is a long, boring, blur, as Blake was only able to find a copy of the USA today to occupy his time. He catches a cab to head home, walking in his front door too late to hear about Keely’s river otter presentation.

Blake’s wife actually found the whole story amusing, and is just happy that he is safe and not stuck in an East Coast snow storm. As Blake is wired from traveling all day, they stay up until almost two in the morning chatting about Keely and the oddness of flying cross country twice. Checking his email once more as he goes to bed, Blake sees that he forgot to cancel the hotel room reservation. Since company policy states that he was supposed to cancel the hotel room the day he found out his plans changed, Blake drifts off to sleep annoyed that he will have to pay the hotel cancelation fee out of his own pocket. Thanks for nothing, corporate card.

The top ten things that are on my mind

I don’t know about anyone else, but I do know that I tend to keep a lot of things bouncing around in my head. I’m not really sure how to let go of some of these items, which would allow me to focus on the here and the now. If I did know, I wouldn’t need to write this post! I feel like Luke Skywalker being chastised by Yoda.

“For eight-hundred years have I trained Jedi! This one… a long time have I watched. All his life as he looked away… to the future… to the horizon; Never his mind on where he was. What he was doing. You are reckless!”

So, here are the ten things that take up brain processing power these days. My hope is that by writing these down, they’ll start taking up less space. I also think that maybe many of you have similar challenges.

1) Work
Most of my day is spent here, and since it is my primary source of income it is not surprising I spend many brain cycles on this. My real challenge here is that I often think about work when I am not at work, and often think about other parts of life when I am at work. It’d be great if I could just think about work when I am there, and not at all when I am not.

2) Weight
I’m down 20+ pounds from my max weight, but am still about 35 pounds away from my goal. I exercise daily, eat whole foods, and try to avoid junk, but still battle with weight. I wonder what my per mile pace would be if I carried 40 fewer pounds on the pavement.

3) Food
See point #2 above. I am not always successful with avoiding the junk.

4) Is my wife getting enough social time while taking care of the baby?
I am as introverted as they come, thus it would be appropriate for my wife to be as extroverted as they come. For every minute that I just want things to be quiet so I can read, she is busy planning a party. Looking back on watching the boys when they were little, it was really isolating taking care of them on my own. The last thing this introvert wants is an isolated extrovert! My wife does go to work during the day, and we parent together well, but is often watching the baby alone when I am working on the PTA and coaching soccer practice.

5) Where are we spending our money
I don’t consider myself cheap, nor frugal. I don’t panic over every penny, but I’m nearing my prime earning years and would like to see my savings account grow exponentially from where it is now.

6) Where do I send the boys to school
My oldest has a learning disability, my youngest (boy) is working on his speech, and my daughter is still an infant. Where is the best place to put them? More importantly, what is the best way to help them and am I equipping them to be successful as adults?

7) Who is taking the boys to soccer and baseball
Granted, this is a tactical problem, but boy do their activities cause logistical nightmares.

8) What can I teach the boys
I feel like I’ve gained wisdom over the years, and would have accomplished significantly more if I “knew then what I know now.” What of these can I teach to the boys? What do they need to learn and experience on their own? Can I be impactful only seeing them half the week?

9) How is the market doing
I work at a stock brokerage. My mind is never far away from the market; nor how my investments are doing.

10) Have I forgotten anything?
It seems like I am asking myself this question once an hour of so.

I expect that you may have similar questions running through your minds on a daily basis. Any suggestions on how to get those jumbled thoughts out and focus on the present?

Flash Fiction Friday (#1) – Login

Bob Fenton sits at this cube. It’s small, and it’s near a conference room. Boy, if it isn’t loud here most of the time. Miraculously, there are no meetings. It’s quiet. Bob takes a sip of his coffee. Ah. “This is nice” he thinks, flashing back to his most recent doctor’s appointment. “Doc wanted me to take it easy.”

“Jesus, Bob!” Tim Drake slams his hand down suddenly on Bob’s bookshelf, jolting Bob out of his revelry. “Did you hear what happened?” Tim’s voice is louder than usual, apparently not caring who overhears.

“Wait, what?”

“With the PharmDataUploader. Remember? We pulled that back three months ago because it couldn’t connect with PharmDataDist”

Bob recalled the project. The development teams had spent 9 months making updates to the application. It was used to securely transmit sensitive patient information to drug makers. It was hard enough to interface their unique data schema with proprietary retail drug store exchanges, but factoring in HIPPA protections as well took ages. The first day they tried to run it, the whole thing failed almost instantly. Execs were pissed, and customers will pay top dollar for the data if this thing can ever launch. “Did we finally figure out the problem?”

Tim leans in closer. “We never activated the user login in Production.”

“What do you mean ‘never activated’?”

“Well, remember how our developers couldn’t reproduce the error on their boxes? Or that QA couldn’t reproduce it anywhere?”

Bob nodded.

Tim continued “We spent forever putting in special logging and debugging features. We built out a whole staging environment with scrubbed data thinking it might be related to the sheer size of the data. We spend millions building this thing, and it would have worked on the first day except no one enabled the login from PharmDataUploader into our database.”

“No” Bob replied. “What did Danny say?”

“He said it isn’t a DBA issue. They don’t do anything with users without a ticket from the operations team.”

“Wait, didn’t we have operations on board?”

“Of course we did. They sat through the entire release plan. They claim that the project manager never requested that they enable the login”

“She talked about it at the status meetings. What do they mean it wasn’t requested?”

“She apparently sent in the request to operations, but needed the DBAs to confirm which login to use. They provided a list of all the logins and asked her to pick one. She asked the devs, but they don’t know anything about how production is configured. So, in a vacuum, she picked one and provided it to operations.”

“So, why didn’t operations ask the DBAs to enable that login?”

“Because that login is being retired. Since it is being recycled, they didn’t include it in the instructions.”

“Seriously? This is a weird case of who’s on first.”

“We finally figure out the cause, released the code today, and the sucker is working just fine. Here’s why I’m pissed, though. No one knows who to blame: DBAs, operations, the PM, or development. This is just the way we do things around here. However, because this is my program, I’ve missed three months of revenue so I’m taking the hit on my KPIs.”

“No way. What did Kurt say?”

“He said that there is nothing he can do. This is just the way we track things here.”

“Unbelievable.”

What the boys taught me by playing baseball

This weekend marked the start of the Little league baseball season here in Seattle. A sport like baseball is hard to play in the spring here in the northwest, given the amount of rain we have and very few covered indoor baseball fields for children. In fact, all the practices the boys have had thus far have been in the rain. We had great weather for the season opening Jamboree. I was impressed by the quality of the little league baseball fields, which included dugouts, bleachers, outfield fences, an electronic scoreboard, real grass fields, a concessions stand, clean restrooms, and loud speakers. While I will always prefer the crack of a wood bat on the ball, the aluminum pinging sound accompanying the laughter of children and cheers of the parents created a wondrous cacophony on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. Here are some of the things I learned by watching the boys.

The Clothes Make The Man
When the day started, the boys were just wearing jeans and long sleeve tshirts. Once they put on their uniforms, they transformed into ball players. They way they wore their hats, rocked the gloves, and tucked in their jerseys made them look legit. I was reminded that looking the part, and having confidence, takes you a long way.

Ritual Matters, as does Pomp and Circumstance
Before the games, every player was announced by name and number, then ran out to the pitchers mound to stand and receive applause from the crowd. This reminded me of watching the World Series, when all the players are introduced. I’ll admit it, I was jealous and wanted to be out there myself. My oldest told me afterwards that his favorite part was the pre game ritual. I find that when watching groups do ritual, there is a clear feeling of belonging, as being part of the team. I’m going to try to not find ritual annoying anymore, but recognize it as a powerful binding of groups to a shared identity.

Baseball is still America’s Pastime
Here in Seattle, we have a fantastic soccer league and community. Over the last few years, I have been impressed with the coaches, uniforms, and organization. However, little league really blew all that away. I already mentioned the wonderful status of the fields, and the crowds were easily double or triple the size of the soccer games. After the game, my oldest had a quick practice across town. Despite being at the field for a couple hours watching the game, all of the parents and kids made it to practice. During the scrimmage, there were parents acting as umpire, pitching, coaching the infield, coaching the outfield, and managing the dugout. It was impressive. While the Mariner’s may have been lackluster the last few years, little league baseball is very strong here in the northwest. A game that was custom built for radio is still the king of the internet age.

There is always summer better, and always someone worse
It was very clear to me that some of the kids on the field are naturals, future monsters dominating the diamond. Many of the kids had a hard time paying attention, and a handful got hurt (though nothing serious). My boys, and pardon the pride here, had both hustle and good attitudes. I’m not naive, and I know that talent takes you far in this world. It was good to see that my boys were able to compete by running harder than most kids on the field, willing to try new things, and were mentally engaged in the game. I’ve achieved some decent successes in my life, and while I’m smart I’m not the smartest person in the room. Watching them play reminded me not be afraid to ‘challenge the experts’ and that ‘chance favors the prepared mind.’

For a variety of reasons, most of them failures on my part, this is the first year I’ve been able to get the boys into baseball. I am coming into this season eager to introduce the boys to the sport that connected me to my dad for a lifetime. I am also looking forward to experiencing the cliche that I will learn more from watching the boys play, then they will learn from me.

There seems to be less and less time

Life seems very busy for me these days. I don’t know if there is any one cause. Is it just my own nature to add more to my to do list? Could it be that as I move up the ladder at work my responsibilities take over more of my thoughts? Is this just what happens as you near 40? What about my kids? Are they the ones who are making me busy?

I look back on my 20s when I was finishing college and entering the work force. I felt as though I had so much going on, so much to do. During those same years I saw all the movies I wanted, never missed “must see tv” on Thursday nights, and was able to read every Jordan, Martin, or Goodkind book. What I would give today to find a time not just to read more than one chapter of a Sigler novel at a sitting, but that by taking that time I wasn’t missing something else critical. Well, in my 20s, I was also convinced that it was only a matter of time before I was able to achieve greatness. The world was my oyster.

In my 30s, I decided to strive harder to accomplish more. I made the deliberate decision that there are sights I would like to see, experiences I wanted to have, goals to achieve, stories to tell, money to save, lessons to teach, and dreams to chase. I think this is it – allow me to elaborate.

I push myself in multiple directions. Spending time with my kids, and helping them grow into the best adult they can be, is a prime motivator for me. It’s why I spend almost an hour at night talking to them about their “best and worst” parts and helping provide what wisdom I can. On the physical side, I am a solid 30 pounds overweight. I spend an hour a day exercising, and what feels like an hour a day worried about what I eat and whether or not my minor insulin resistance is going to turn into something much worse. After having been laid off in the 2008 economic crash, I vowed never again to be dependent upon income from my main job, and thus spend time focused on investments and passive income. Not that I ignore my existing job. I put in my hours in a place where if I get rated “very strong” verses “strong” there is a several thousand dollar difference in income. I volunteer. I mow the lawn (half the year). I fold laundry. I clean the bathroom before company comes over.

I guess it really is, as Green Day says, it all keeps adding up. There isn’t one thing that makes me busy, it’s everything. It goes to reason that by the same token, simply changing one thing won’t make me feel as though I have a miraculous amount of free time. Could it be that, if I reminded myself of why I’m busy, why I invest, why I volunteer, that then my tasks would feel less like burdens? Would remembering my purpose lift the weight off my shoulders? Or, as it has been suggested, maybe I should just go back to watching must see tv?

Let me know what you think?

BTW, Scott Sigler (mentioned above) is my new favorite author. His book The Rookie is a story about the future of football after the alien invasion. You should check it out sometime.