Those of you who have been following my blog for a while know that I am a big fitness buff. I work for Bodybuilding.com, I lift weights 5-6 days per week, and the gym makes up an important part of my identity. I pretty much live and breathe this stuff 24/7!
I am also very passionate about investing, which is of course why I started this blog. And lately, I’ve been thinking about why I enjoy bodybuilding and investing so much; what is it about these two activities that draws me so much to them?
Obviously, an individual can have a wide gamut of unrelated interests for the simple fact that he/she isn’t a boring fuck. But bodybuilding and investing are more than just “hobbies” or “interests” to me. They both bring significant meaning and purpose to my life, and make me feel as though I am “on the right path”, for lack of a better way of explaining it. So after doing some late-night pondering, I have realized that there are some important underlying similarities between the two that explain why they mesh so well together.
They both require time, patience, and discipline
Building muscle and transforming your body is a slow process; you can’t expect to look like a cover model after just a few weeks of working out. It takes years and years of effort and dedication to truly see the fruits of your labor in the gym. It can be discouraging to see the months go by without any apparent changes in your appearance, which is why so many people quit shortly after they begin.
I myself started lifting when I was 18 years old. At the time, I weighed a painfully scrawny 120 lbs at a height of 5’9″; I was pure skin and bones. My whole life, I’d been referred to as “the skinny guy”, and I had always felt insecure about my weight and appearance. In high school, I HATED that I was so damn small compared to all the other guys. So when I graduated and headed off to college, I became fiercely determined to change things for myself and leave my borderline malnourished-looking shell behind me.
I’m happy to say that, 5 years later, I’m still playing the iron game with the same passion and determination that initially sparked that fire inside me. I’m still a pretty small dude, but I’ve certainly come a long way from the lanky kid you see in the picture to the right over there. I currently weigh a much healthier 170 lbs, and I no longer vanish into thin air when I turn sideways. Most importantly though, I have abs now I have developed a strong sense of patience and focus; of setting my eyes on a goal and sticking to the game plan, no matter how long it takes. I know better than to give up when the going gets tough, and I am capable of pushing forward even when it feels like I am not making any progress.
Like bodybuilding, investing requires time — lots of time — in order for the compounding effect to kick in and work its magic. Building wealth doesn’t happen overnight; it is a long process that demands an intelligent plan and a lot of patience. You don’t see a lot of people who have their financials together for the same reason you don’t see many people walking around with muscular physiques: it’s difficult to stick to a strategy over the long term. It’s much easier to go spend your money on a new shiny gizmo than it is to adhere to a strict budget and savings plan. It’s much easier to stay on the couch eating cheetos than it is to follow a bodybuilding nutrition and training protocol. As humans we are highly susceptible to instant gratification, and it takes a lot of discipline and willpower to forego it in favor of delayed gratification (this is known as the ‘pleasure principle’ in psychological terminology).
The discipline that I have gained from bodybuilding will undoubtedly be my ally when it comes to my dividend investing goals. When it comes down to it, while bodybuilding and investing might seem like completely unrelated endeavors on a superficial level, at their core they are both tests of human willpower and self-control, and success in either is a testament to an individual’s mastery over his primal desire for instant gratification in favor of a higher pursuit.
They are both highly individual activities
Growing up, I never enjoyed group sports and group activities much; in fact, I still don’t. I never liked the idea of having to depend on other people in order to accomplish a goal. I much prefer to depend on myself, and only on myself, to get shit done. This might sound conceited, and maybe it is, but I think that the majority of people just don’t have what it takes to hang on my level. And I don’t mean that in terms of individual talent, skill, or ability (I’m very average in that regard), but rather in terms of tenacity, doggedness, and fierce, unwavering dedication to a pursuit. When I look around me, I see so much wasted potential, so much laziness, and so much aversion to good old-fashion hard fucking work; I feel like I’m swimming in a sea of mediocrity. It’s sad.
Don’t get me wrong, I can certainly appreciate the value in teamwork and working together with other individuals in concert toward accomplishing a goal; some of humanity’s greatest accomplishments have been the fruits of the incredible power of teamwork. But more often than not, finding that team of awesome, like-minded individuals is easier said than done. And at the end of the day, I feel much more satisfied knowing that I achieved something through my own effort; my own vision; my own pool of blood, sweat and tears. It makes the reward all the more sweet.
And I think that therein lies a lot of the appeal in endeavors such as bodybuilding and investing for individuals like myself. They are both pursuits that are highly individualistic in nature, and that demand a tremendous amount of self-motivation and self-discipline. They both allow for a high level of customization and individualization, thus making each person’s path truly unique. I can’t think of many activities that are as eloquently summed up by the classic saying “there is more than one way to skin a cat”. In bodybuilding, while there are a few fundamental principles that underlie any bodybuilder’s success (e.g. lift progressively heavier weights over time, eat a sufficient amount of food, etc.), there are various factors such as metabolism, morphology, leverages, and muscle-fiber makeup that will all uniquely affect and shape a specific individual’s strengths and weaknesses, and the methods they employ to work with these strengths and work around these weaknesses. Furthermore, an individual’s personal preference for variables like training frequency, training volume, training intensity, and training methods will all further individualize the process.
Similarly, with investing, while there are a few basic principles that will be common to all investing styles, you will be hard pressed to find two successful investors who took the same path to success. Different strategies, different asset classes, different amounts of risk tolerance, different sector preferences, and different portfolios can all work just as well. Some people will day-trade their way to success, while others will generate impermeable streams of passive income through dividend investing. Some people will grow rich through an all-equity approach, while others will build wealth through a balanced mix of fixed-income securities and stocks. Some people will succeed by sticking to the safe and stable utilities and consumer goods sectors, while others will thrive by dabbling in the volatile financial and tech sectors. Some people will achieve their goals with time-tested, blue-chip companies like Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, and IBM, while others will build winning portfolios absent of all these classic names.
So yeah. Set a goal, and relentlessly pursue it in whatever manner suits you best. Vegeta had dreamed of transforming into a super saiyan of legend ever since he was a child. The problem was that the legendary transformation supposedly only came in response to a need, not a desire. Well, Vegeta wanted to become a super saiyan so bad that he pretty much turned his desire into a need, and subsequently achieved his life-long goal. Talk about doing things your way.
At the end of the day, it’s up to you to create your own destiny, and to then carve the path that you’ll take to reach it.
They are both life-long journeys
The adage “it’s a marathon, not a race” is yet another classic saying that applies perfectly to both bodybuilding and investing. I mentioned in my first point above that they both require time and patience, but the truth of the matter is that they transcend both of these attributes. Again, we aren’t talking days, weeks, or months when it comes to bodybuilding and investing; we are talking years, decades, and beyond.
Truly, in order to find success and purpose in these endeavors, you have to make a life-long commitment to pursuing them with discipline and dedication. You have to adopt a mindset of enjoying the process rather than lusting after the end goal, and you have to savor the small victories that come along the way for all that they are worth. That extra $50 in passive annual income you achieved, that extra quarter inch on your arms that you gained, those extra 10 lbs you added to your deadlift; they all matter, and they should all be welcomed with great satisfaction and enthusiasm. Otherwise, you will quickly find yourself joining the legions of people who tried and quit before they even really took the first step.
If you’ve read this far, thanks! I appreciate your sticking through this undoubtedly slightly incoherent rambling of mine. Hopefully, though, you will have managed to grasp some of the ideas that I was trying to express, and perhaps you will have even learned something new.
And if you’ve skipped to the end of this post because you thought ‘lol, nope’ after your read the first sentence, then here are the cliff notes.
– I like lifting weights
– I like investing
– I like Vegeta
What are your thoughts? What kind of crack do you think I was on while I wrote this post?