There’s a saying in Private Equity that the best decisions we make can be the deals we don’t do.
Related, we all have thoughts that we are obligated to not act upon.
The holidays can be a tough time for many.
Being surrounded by kids, Christmas is good for me – frequent socialization with very happy people. Their enthusiasm is contagious.
Childhood enthusiasm, sea-level sleeping, a two-month reduction in anaerobic load… combined for a pleasant finish to 2021.
The sort of finish that made me deeply grateful that I didn’t act upon a desire to dismantle my life. This desire followed me around June to October. It wasn’t much fun.
I have a policy to never leave myself in a position where my last interaction is a poor one. So, with a useful blog queued for Monday… I can share that 2021 was one of the toughest years of my adult life.
Externally, it was a great year. The kids absolutely crushed, the family’s net assets rose by a lot, my wife remained wonderful, my extended family took positive steps in their own lives, but…
I was often very dissatisfied…
…very very very dissatisfied
…with the amount of money we were spending relative to the quality of my life.
Despite having a single residence, no mortgage, sending my kids to public school… cash out the door had crept up and up.
Not worth it (even when net worth is tracking upwards at a decent multiple of the spend).
“We can afford it” carries little weight in my internal life.
Here’s something about dissatisfaction.
If you’re prone to getting _really_ upset, occasionally then this might help…
Looking deeply, I found it wasn’t with me all the time, or most of the time, just sometimes.
Like any emotion, it comes and goes. So an important thing to remember is not to act upon passing negative emotions.
Impulse control, learned in elite sport, has proven to be one of the most valuable assets I possess.
There’s also utility to be found in painful emotions. Persistent dissatisfaction nudged me to try some new things, and consider where my beliefs were making me miserable.
Clearly, it was my beliefs, rather than my situation that were causing the problem. My situation, by all measures, was great across the year.
Whittling down to misery-causing beliefs is not straightforward… …but these beliefs are usually obvious to those around us!
So my new things came primarily from saying “yes” to suggestions from my wife and kids.
As I’ve written many times before, I also pay attention to when I am feeling content, serene and engaged.
- One-on-one in nature, with friends/family.
Things turned around, quite quickly, when I stopped sitting around and got to work on being engaged.
If you have an extreme personality then you may be prone to fooling yourself into thinking you need to dismantle your life (to get to better). The desire to “chuck it all in and start fresh”… comes back again and again.
However, my emotional states are so fluid, a few small changes can be all it takes to nudge myself from “totally unacceptable” to “sustainable across the medium term.”
Once I arrive at a “sustainable” mindset, my task became noticing the good stuff that’s all around me.
Anyhow, I ended 2021 grateful I didn’t burn it all down… and/or… take out my temporary feelings on those who provide the joy in my life.