Friday, December 22, 2017

The Art of the Good Life #2 : The Set-Up and the Correction.

Another useful mental model to adopt is that in many areas of our lives, there is a phase where set-up occurs and there is another phase where correction needs to take place. 

As an Asian society that values of conscientiousness, we have a tendency to over-emphasise the set-up but we have a tendency to under-emphasise the correction phase. 

Sadly, the correction phase is becoming more important in our society.

a) Education

Generation X will be the last generation where you can focus on getting your first degree right and  the pay-off throughout your career would be assured. To thrive in the current working world, getting a degree will, at most, land you a great job with a good company for about 3-4 years. Beyond that stage, your human capital will decline even if you are gainfully employed because you will be spending your working hours developing skills specific to your company which may not be transferable to your next job.

So correction in the workforce becomes important. You need to have a feel on how the industry is involving and invest your time after office hours to master the skills for your next job. This means that the rewards will go to workers who thrive in their current jobs but is always preparing for their next one. 

Of course, this does not mean that the set-up is unimportant. You need to have a decent set-up and have some kind of system to correct yourself to respond to industry changes. 

Otherwise, you may be relegated to the gig economy.

b) Gaming

Subtle changes to the Dungeons and Dragons game is also shifting gameplay from setup to correction. Some players are great at creating super-powerful characters. In 5th Edition D&D, it could be paladin-assassins that clock ridiculous amounts of damage when they simultaneously critically hit and smite with the same attack. 

But the game is best enjoyed actively with friends and I find that creating flexible characters that can respond to strange game situations are more fun and effective in a public gaming group over the long term. If your character does not have a super-power that you can always abuse to bludgeon your enemies, your gameplay changes and you try to adjust your gameplay to suit the moves of other PCs and the scenario thrown at your character. 

( In the Singapore scene, there seems to be a particular disdain for the fighter's abuse of the Sharpshooter feat using hand crossbows. )

My current rogue Prince Nuada is a fairly weak build for a D&D character, but he has developed a really nasty Booming Blade Sneak Attack with a rapier and has great mobility. Most of his abilities are hidden in his character sheet as he is decent at disguise, forging documents and have unusual items like ball bearings and caltrops to shift the battlefield in the party's favour.  

c) Personal Finance

It's really tempting to create some kind of investment strategy that would carry you all the way to retirement but there are too many changes going on in the financial markets. When times are good, it is tempting to start to leverage your portfolios. When times are bad, some investors quit investing altogether.

Whatever strategy you come out with, portfolio balancing provides some form of auto-correction to your asset allocation and you can also do that with a robo-advisor. But as I get older and have a larger portfolio, 5% of my portfolio should always be about discovering new investment opportunities and making yourself a better investor. 

This year, I have not done well in crowdfunding loan campaigns as 2 out of 4 campaigns defaulted. 

I also did not take a meaningful position in cryptocurrencies when I could have easily done so. 

But my experiments on my margin portfolio have been my saving grace for 2017 and I look forward to be able to home-brew a market neutral portfolio possibly by end of 2018.


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