happiness

Best places for you to kick-back, relax, and enjoy summertime in Chicago

chgo-river-boat-ride -riverwalkchicago

Last week, I had the opportunity to visit friends in Chicago. Having lived in Texas for a couple years now, one forgets how nice summer can actually be in other parts of the country.

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five year plan, happiness, life, success

5 ½ year plan w/ a few digressions, wait what was I talking about again?

How many people do you know that have a 5 year plan? I’m not sure I know of one that has it written down. I decided to take 10-15 minutes today to kind of reflect about the past, present, and future and maybe develop a 5 year plan from there. I don’t think it’s as important to follow one’s 5 year plan as it is to envision what one wants for the next 5 years. With that being said, I will use mine as more of a guiding light and a navigational tool in life, as I have with several of my past “5 year plans.” The reason I say this is because I know if you would’ve told me 5 years ago I’d be where I am today I wouldn’t have believed you, I’d have labeled you as crazy. Even as little as two years ago, my life has completely flipped turned upside down. They say if you want to make God laugh, just tell him your plans. I think God would pay to see my life as a stand up comedy show. I read somewhere that the biggest growth and the most challenging time we’ll ever know is in our twenties. Generations ago your life was basically scripted for you. If you weren’t married with kids by 22, 23, or god forsaken 25, there was something wrong with you. You were out of the norm. Life was pretty simple; grow up, go to school, find your sweetheart, soulmate, babygurl, raise a family, and retire with enough money you can enjoy it. There weren’t as many choices, people didn’t travel as much, the American Dream was owning a house, that was it. I hate to say it, but times have changed, people have changed. Those who grew up in Michigan can’t find a job in Michigan, they’re forced to move. They immediately become part of the rare 5% that live 50 miles away from their hometown. No longer is owning a house everybody’s dream, some people love the city, want a view, want to travel, want to live abroad, want to create a foundation, a business, a perpetual entity, want to create art, music, be famous, chase, chase, chase that’s what we do. Is anyone really happy anymore? Or is it all a façade? We’re overleveraged, living on credit, trying to keep up with the Jones’s, material possessions consume us, and our desires our consuming our soul. No longer is going from A to B the goal, it’s going from A to B better than the last person and much more in style. People don’t talk about world events anymore they talk about themselves. We’re our own center of the universe, how sad is that? More women than ever go to college, so instead of getting married at 17 they are waiting until 21 to even think about pursuing that option. Women’s self-worth isn’t predicated on their baby-making and domestic skills, they are actually creating an identity based on their values, personality, and desires. They are on a more level playing field then ever, they are becoming more dependent and less reliant on us. They now can be more picky, and they should be. Many people use to sacrifice themselves to make everyone else happy, they only thought about not hurting anyone else, instead of worrying about what was really important, themselves. They weren’t fair to thyself. One of the everlasting true statements of our time, “Be True to Thyself”, because if you aren’t true to yourself how could you be true to anyone else? It’s not just the trains, plains, and automobiles that are taking us away and transplanting us in foreign environments. It’s the blackberries that prevent us from meeting strangers, it’s the internet we use to communicate instead of actually walking down the block to say hi, it’s more work hours, less vacation that’s isolating us. The very thing, technology, that was suppose to make everything more simple, fast, reliable is actually hampering our ability to communicate. How many of today’s children are book smart, yet lack the very basic communication skills? Video games, cell phones, computers, internet, movies, and music are making our kids walking voids, making them socially awkward. Instead of playdates they are playing a stranger in World of Warcraft, instead of football under the street lights they are bowling with the Wii, instead of hanging out on the porch they are texting, sexting, and instant messaging, instead of living in the real world they are living in Sim City. We wonder why America is losing ground to the developing nations, we lack the very skill it takes to compete in the market, we lack interpersonal communication.After college, you are still coming into your own, you’re growing mentally, spiritually, and consciously. You are realizing your place in the world, where you want to be, and who you want to be with. I believe the reason so many people break up in their mid to late twenties is because they weren’t who they were when they began their relationship. Trying to understand, feel, and adjust to your maturing as a man/woman is not only tough, but trying to grow and also manage a relationship with someone who might be changing in a very different way can sometimes be impossible. You weren’t who you were when you were 21 and neither are they. And that’s okay. A couple years ago I found myself often questioning the meaning of life. Why are we here? What is our purpose? Who am I ? What makes me happy? I started studying other cultures, religions, and traditions, to see if I was missing something. I found these truths to be self-evident, I found these questions were universal. Just like love transcends all feelings, happiness is what you create. Too many people forget, happiness doesn’t depend upon who you are or what you have, it depends solely upon what you think. “Are you bored with life? Then throw yourself into some work you believe in with all your heart, live for it, die for it, and you will find happiness that you had thought could never be yours.”-Dale Carnegie Life is a journey, not a destination. Life isn’t about knowing. It’s about living for the moment. It’s about finding the person you can go through anything with and still find something to laugh about together at the end of the day. Its’ about making your dreams come true. Its about making mistakes. Its about finding what makes you happy. Life has never been about knowing, so stop wasting time wishing you knew. I felt like I need to preface my five year plan with my ideas and thoughts so you as the reader would know where I’m coming from and my state of mind. My five year plan would be better labeled as a guidance, than a plan. With the ultimate goal being happiness, I could care less if I achieved of failed my plan. The plan is just a means to the end, and if in the end I’m happy than that to me is the definition of success. As I’m writing this I’m thinking about Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. I saw a video about it that was trying to explain how as you get older time seems to go by quicker. It was talking about when you were younger and how your first birthday you remembered seemed to be so long and such a wonderful memory. It was indeed a big part of your life. And then when you were in your thirties and forties how you could easily forget a birthday. It talked about since you only lived for five years, a year was a fifth of your life, 20%, therefore relatively major. But as you get older, as the days, weeks, months, and years go by, 5 years turns into a much smaller perecentage, therefore each day seems like it goes by faster because it is a smaller increment of your life. I think that’s important to state because, as some point in your life you are going to hit the middle of it, where you are no longer growing, but starting to shrink, everyday you live is a closer day to your death. I know that seems like a weird twisted way to put it. But if you position it in your mind correctly it can be very rewarding. Tim Mcgraw said it best when he sung, “Live like you were Dying.” It is only when one confronts death head on that one seems to live. The goal isn’t to survive it’s to thrive. With that being said, I feel like 5 years is still a very large percentage of my life, 20%. At the end of that 5 year plan, 5 years would be only 15% of my life. I guess what I am saying, due to relativity, it would make more sense to have a shorter plan than 5 years, since 5 years is still a fifth of my life, who could actually try to plan the next fifth of their life? And be anywhere close to accurate? No one.And no one in their right mind, certainly not myself would’ve placed me in Grand Rapids working for Fidelity. I’m looking in the rear view and still wondering how I got here. I think this is the first time since I left ML that I’ve actually reflected on what has happened. There’s been three chapters of my life since college.
1) June 1st, 2005; Starting my career at Edward Jones in Utica, Mi (I will write about this at a later date)
2) Jan 1st 2008; Buying a house and moving to Grand Rapids to further my career in the industry with Merrill Lynch (I will write about this at a later date)
3) April 2009; Leaving Merrill Lynch and taking a step backwards to go two step forwards with Fidelity. (I will write about this at a later date)
Back in October/November, Jt and I really started talking about moving to Grand Rapids. We were both pretty unimpressed with the scene for mid 20 year old males in the metro detroit area. He began dating Panda again, and was going to G-Rap every weekend already. He was having a tough time making it at Edward Jones and knew he wasn’t going to be there forever. I knew I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life in the Detroit area, I was building quite a book at Jones and I knew the longer I stayed the harder it would be to ever leave. But even on my way to a 88k w-2 year, I knew there was much more to life than money. Jt and I went to Grand Rapids for a Halloween Bar Crawl and were real impressed with the downtown. Unlike Detroit, Grand Rapids had a cab system, on top of that there was a downtown where everybody went, even better it was only 2 1/2 hours from Chicago, where we had a few friends. In December, Merrill Lynch gave me a generous offer. I thought about it for a couple days and didn’t know if I was quite ready to leave metro Detroit. I had a lot of business in the pipeline and our lease at our townhouse ran until March. Using Chung logic I figured, that everybody had their price and my price to leave a good thing, a comfortable thing, would be nearly double what they had already generously offered. After all everything is negotiable right? After speaking with the manager on the phone, which to no one’s suprise, he said that they just couldn’t pay that kind of money. Easy enough, the decision was made for me, I didn’t have to make it, and life goes on… Or so I thought, the next morning they called me three times and left voicemails. I was in appointments all day, when I finally returned the call I found out they wanted to meet again and see if we could strike a compromise. Again we met, we talked, ironed out some details, they wanted my updated 12 month rolling commissions, and were willing to meet more than half way. After the meeting, I hung with Jt, Panda, and some friends. I told them about the new offer, they said I’d be crazy not to take it. After a week to decide, I again decided not too take it. ML graciously accepted my response, an hour later they offered what I asked for, and wanted me to start next week. I consulted my dad, and decided I would take the job. I asked for two weeks so I could start on Jan 1st, 2008. In those two weeks I found a house, put a bid on it, got it accepted, closed on all the paperwork, negotiated a mortgage, had the house appraised, and applied for home insurance. On Jan 1st, 2008 I was handed the keys to a 3,100 sq ft, 3/4 of an acre, 6 bedroom, 5 bathroom house w/ a 8 person hot tub. And yes I bought the house for the hot tub. Looking back on it, I would’ve never bought such a big house. And if you ever buy a house, make sure you’re ready for all the upkeep that comes with it, I was not. But in the end, just like everything else I’m very glad I did. 2008 flew by. I had tons of friends coming to visit whether it was Sorgi at State or Horvath from Cooley, or Tyler and Caleb from Chicago, or Mario, Jt, Jen, Amanda, and all the Eastside friends. The girls I met from Wisconsin came, Will flew in from California. I had a summer kick off, fourth of july party, Halloween Party, Birthday bash, the house was made for Hosting. And with downtown being so easy to get to and there being so much more 20 somethings than in the detroit area we were doing it big every weekend. While everything was great in my social life. Work was falling apart. Merrill just fired there CEO Stanley O’neil when I was coming in, little did I know that was the first of many problems. SubPrime Mortgages and Credit Default swaps were taking out a lot of banks and investment banking units, many people didn’t realize that Merrill was the biggest player in that arena, and that would be one of the hardest hit. The incumbent got us into this mess, but soon after the next CEO John Thain would be let go, the media brought his ridiculous bonuses and spending habits to light. On the verge of going bankrupt ML would be saved by Bank of America, a deal brokered by the Government. If we weren’t saved by BAC, we would’ve gone under like Leighman Brothers. ML wasn’t the best name to begin with when it came to the middle class, which was my entire book, but now it was completely impossible to prospect in these market conditions, especially when it was your firm on the front of the Wall Street Journal everyday. I knew if I wasn’t hitting enough commissions to hit my draw that not only would I not make it through the 8 year contract we had, but I would end up owing ML more money than my promissory note to begin with. I began looking elsewhere. And just like that in a couple weeks, I went through the Fidelity interview process. They were opening a brand new branch on the westside of the state and had the AE position on Ladders.com The AE position wanted 10 years in the industry, I had nearly 5, but that didn’t stop me from applying. On the first interview they let me know that I wasn’t qualified to have the most senior position in the branch but they offered me to interview for another position in the branch. The second interview was a group interview of about 30 people. The third interview was a two on one. I ended up getting the job, they let me know that there was over a 1,000 resumes submitted for this. Everyone hired above me would come from internal at Fidelity. The AE would be from Seattle with the firm for 11 years, the 3 fpc’s would be from Novi, Birmingham, and Texas. The job I have now is the Investment Representative, which works with the mass market, it is the stepping stone to the FPC. I had to take a step back bring my career two step forwards in the long term… let’s hope this works out.