Thursday, May 22, 2014

Choose Yourself !

It started with my conclusion that conscientiousness is largely determined genetically so the following conversation started with the maxim that a man would need to choose a wife properly. If anything, a flaky wife, if Minister Mentor might be correct, will give you flaky kids.

I took the conversation one step further and proposed that instead of finding a better wife, why not choose a better self !

This idea seems absurd at first - my friends protest that they can't choose which family to be born to. In my opinion, I do not think that it is much more absurd than following the maxim to choose a wife properly. At the end of the day, women are choosier creatures than men. Before you can choose someone to become your wife, she probably already has an idea of why you would not make husband material.

So to all the man-children out there, good luck with a second date !

I think there is merit in the idea of "Choosing a better self" rather than "Choosing a better wife."

Let me try to construct a working action plan to accompany this philosophical idea with two other big ideas from economics and psychology :

a) Capital in the 21st Century say that (r >g)

In this reality/dimension, the return on investment will always exceed GDP growth. Folks who accumulate wealth will always grow richer than folks who rely solely on their earned income. This is a fundamental reason for wealth inequality.

b) Our willpower is a finite resource and can be depleted

Psychological tests show that people who strain themselves mentally will have trouble resisting later. Very much like Diablo III, your Willpower is like your Mana, Fury or Wrath - it is a resource that can be depleted every-time you are made to exercise it. Make a diabetic do two programming assignments, and he will succumb to a Magnum moments later.

If you can accept the previous two points, you should be able to accept some of my conclusions :

a) You need to allocate your Willpower or attention properly as it is a scarce resource

To choose yourself, you will need to decide what you want to focus on. People who like money can focus on tasks which make money. People who want happiness will have to choose concerns which make them happy. Conscientiousness may determine the amount of Willpower you have, but allocating it well to activities and hobbies which promote your personal agenda belongs to the province of personal wisdom and common sense. Have too many sports and hobbies and you will find that you will do badly in many of them. Have one or two interests and you will be able to cultivate depth even if you might not be endowed with a lot of conscientiousness or Willpower.

b) If you want money than you overwhelmingly need to grow financial capital

How do you allocate your Willpower if you want to maximize your wealth ? If (r>g), an ordinary employee will find that their salaries will approximate GDP growth or g over the long term, but if he can start to own financial assets in his early twenties, his wealth will grow at a rate of r which is larger than g.

The action is plan is thus, as simple as Ohm's Law.

If you work in an MNC and see your colleagues get 10-15% increments every year, then spending time at work and putting effort to be a good employee makes sense ( Your personal g > r ). In such a case, the MBAs which focus on management and administration are logical areas to focus your effort. You can also go karaoke with your bosses and colleagues as there is a positive long term impact in your wealth generation.

However if you work in a place where a 5% increment is an event which should be celebrated or are sufficiently senior in your job role where your increments match GDP growth, then an MBA to improve your productivity is not as good an investment as the CFA which will teach you about managing wealth. Similarly for your hobbies, you can now stop brown-nosing your bosses and instead spend your evenings reading financial blogs. Your money is coming from your financial wealth instead of paid labor.

If you work in an industry which is facing decline and see your pay getting lower for each contract renewal, then transcend money and and focus on your personal happiness. Spend as little time at work and think about what makes you happy and fulfilled. Be gen-Y, go for work-life balance.  This is not a trivial exercise because if you have done well, you would have no regrets on your deathbed unlike other people. There's even a qualification you can get for that called an MFA. For some, this option is best choice.

So to end, let me talk about my experiences playing Diablo III.

I play a Lvl 70 Crusader with 45 paragon points, I joined a friend who has a  Lvl 70 Witchdoctor with 150+ paragon points and decked from head to toe in legendary items. I barely struggle at Torment 1 and my friend is slowly getting comfortable at Torment 4. I undertook took one quest and got slaughtered by a pygmy in a Nephilim Quest.

It was an eminently humbling experience to party with people with better loot and better stats.

I think it's a teachable moment for real life. In that sense the Witchdoctor chose himself, he went on quests with other supremely Uber Diablo characters, accumulated paragon points, looted more gold and had more legendary drops.

Similarly in real life, some folks struggle like my Crusader in Torment 1, always working too hard for too little. Others are cruising Torment 4 like my friend's Witchdoctor, taking up more difficult assignments for bigger and better rewards.

So this is the moral of the story.

Choose yourself better.

Choose the right things to focus on.

This way the better wife will choose you !



  1. Most of the time, its the girl who does the choosing. The guy just thinks that he chose her. ;)

  2. Anonymous9:21 AM

    "Choose yourself better.

    Choose the right things to focus on.

    This way the better wife will choose you !"

    i say,
    As a Man Thinketh, though can not be disputed,
    i have my doubts on woman choosing who to marry? Do you really think she can choose the one to marry?

    If she can i think she has not fallen in love with someone in the first place.
    That is according to science (if i understand correctly) and i tend to agree.

  3. Hi Chris, great writings.

    Something in a similar vein. Charlie Munger once commented at a Wesco meeting he chaired - The best way to get a good spouse is to deserve a good spouse because by definition a good spouse is not nuts.

    Keep the good work coming and all the best with school!

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