There’s an old saying that one should, “Make hay when the sun is shining.” When I was in my 20s I had two modes of work ethic: 1) Work hard and 2) Work harder. I’d wake up around 4:30am every morning in NYC from 1999-2001 to read the Wall St. Journal before walking over to 1 New York Plaza for work at 5:30am. I knew knowledge was power and I had neither.
After the 10 year mark, I began to burn out. Perhaps all the traveling, stress to perform, ridiculous market cycles and business school classes while working started taking its toll. I did everything I could to increase financial returns when the times were good because times would eventually turn sour. When times were bad, I felt I needed to work harder so as not to fall too far behind. People were getting fired left and right back in 2001-2003 and 2008-2012.
Ask anybody who has worked on Wall St. since the late 90s and they’ll tell you that 2007 was the last great compensation year. It’s been downhill ever since. There was no longer hay to be made, even if we are reaching new highs in the stock market. I woke up to the realization in 2010 that the outsized returns in finance were over, at least for the foreseaable future. So instead of complaining about working harder and getting paid less each year, I got out in 2012.