When is a Career More Important Than A Relationship? 5 Difficult Scenarios to Help You Decide!

Many ambitious professionals are faced with the pressure of letting go of their careers, changing locations, or deferring their career goals to be in a relationship. How should one choose between a relationship or a career? Is there room for both?

Image result for relationship or career

Scenario 1 – Career goals that don’t make it easy to stay together

1. One person has sacrificed their career. The one with the greatest opportunity for their career should be the one chasing it, and the other partner should support their ambitions. If the career opportunities are conflicting with each other’s locality, then one partner has to prepare to sacrifice their time. It’s hard enough juggling a demanding career while trying to find time for a meaningful relationship. He/she should ensure that there is a level of engagement to develop the relationship. A relationship without time commitment will not last, and in the end it will be a waste of time.

2. If both careers have the same probability of success, then you still have to sacrifice your career or leave the relationship.

  • Some people assume that they can sacrifice their career now and still accomplish it later. But, in reality, rarely is this method practical because your partner’s career has to continue developing. If you choose to sacrifice your career for your partner’s, don’t optimistically assume that you can always go after your career later. Make sure you understand how your decisions will affect your future.

Scenario 2 – Career opportunities are placed in different regions.

Decide who has a better probability of being successful in their career and the other partner should provide support.

Scenario 3 – You have a great career to pursue, but your partner doesn’t enjoy a long-distance relationship

If you possess a lofty goal, then you simply have to choose: your partner or your career? You can try convincing your partner to support you, but most of the time your partner has already made up their feelings towards your actions. Because of this, for you to try to change their mind will often be ineffective. Then it might seem like the relationship is going well in the short run, but then, over the long term, your partner’s internal feelings will surface and the relationship could easily end.

Scenario 4 – Conflicting living preference

1. This usually comes into mind when you are seriously committed to making your relationship into a marriage. Living in an area that is generally the most beneficial part of your relationship as a whole. Establish a pro/con list and choose the best situation. If there is still a dilemma, you might have to take some time out and consider what is truly important to you, it’s either the relationship or career. Friends and loved ones can also assist you in making this imperative decision.

2. Some couples do not pick their home state, rather both parties are normally neutral and go along with a state they both didn’t really like, but moved there anyway because they want to make it fair. That’s one of the worst things you can do, but it’s better if a couple can resolve to live in one of their home states because at least one person, can receive the benefit of being with family and friends.

3. When you ask your partner to relocate to hometown region, you should avoid giving subjective favorable reasoning like family and friends because it will send the wrong message that your family/friends are more important than your partner’s relationship. Stick to objective reasoning that can benefit the personal relationship and professional career growth opportunity. It’s obvious that one partner in the relationship is going to have to give up their comfort zone.

Locality decisions should be based on the following: how convenient life will be, career opportunities, affordability, and raising a family. If proximity to your family and friends are important, then negotiate that with your partner. Overall, consider a living situation that can provide the best opportunity to develop a solid, long lasting relationship.

Scenario 5 – You have dreams and goals while the other is content and prevents you from achieving your dreams

The distressing thing about this scenario is that most of the time people give up their dreams to be with someone who doesn’t have any goals or dreams. If someone loves or cares for you, they should not hold you back on your goals. Relationships should be an inspiring and uplifting experience.

Simply, get out of any relationship that is halting you from progressing in your career. You could say ‘I love them and I’m willing to give up my career to just be with them.’ BUT FOR WHAT? IS IT NOT POSSIBLE to have a relationship and pursue your career? A relationship is inspirational. Does it sound inspirational to exchange a dream for a relationship that desires you to become mediocre?

Conclusion – Happiness is very subjective. Whatever you are choosing, remember that sacrifice is a large part of any relationship. Relationships can be powerful when you are with the right partner. Do not sacrifice your career for someone who would not be willing to provide it back to you.

**I will think of more Scenarios, stay tuned….


What Kobe Bryant taught me as an investor: The Work

On January 26, 2019, Sunday afternoon, I had lunch with a prospective client. My phone was in my jacket, but I could hear it vibrating as the meeting went on. I was wondering what the urgency was with all those messages. I checked my messages an hour later and found out that the missed messages related to the death of Kobe Bryant.

One of my friends sent me a late-breaking piece, and I assumed it wasn’t true. I was under the impression that social media was jumping to conclusions. I went to various social media sites and popular news media, but I stumbled upon the same inevitable truth. I wanted to feel as if Kobe was still around, so I continued to watch replays, replays and other Kobe replays.

I was in disbelief all day and I wanted more news to report that it was just a minor accident. It was heart-wrenching to hear that his daughter died in a helicopter accident with him. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to experience a devastating helicopter crash like Kobe’s family did. Kobe has been such an inspiration to me, and I shall miss him very much. Anyone can identify with Kobe because he was genuine. There was no denying Kobe’s passion, and the way he lived his life was inspirational.

Who Was Kobe Bryant?

Kobe Bryant was the youngest 17-year-old from high school going into NBA professional basketball. At the beginning of his career, Bryant didn’t have a lot of chances to play even though he had more potential than most of his teammates. When he got a chance to play regularly, NBA fans saw flashes of his swag and skill. As Kobe Bryant’s career progressed, he was unquestionably destined for greatness.

Eighteen years ago, in 2002, I was lucky enough to see Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan play in the NBA. That was my first time at a NBA game. It was a home match in Washington, DC; the Wizards led by Michael Jordan against the Lakers led by Kobe Bryant.

The match was very tight, but the Wizards beat the Lakers in the last few seconds. In this game, MJ told Kobe he could ‘wear those shoes, but never fulfills them.’ Michael Jordan’s critique irritated Kobe so much that he stopped communicating with his team for two weeks. In the next match against the Wizards, the Lakers won with Kobe retaliating by 55 points.

Michael Jordan VS Kobe Bryant – 2002.11.08

There were a lot of similar stories about Kobe’s revenge game, where he always figured out ways to get ahead and improve his skills. Kobe’s work ethic and pursuit of wisdom and knowledge led to 5 NBA championships and a lengthy list of legendary achievements.

Discipline & Work ethics 
Kobe Bryant’s work ethics are legendary. The best moments of his career were not on ESPN; it was early in the morning and the dark nights where Kobe would practise more than anyone. Kobe was always the first and last player to come and leave the gym. Kobe strictly follows a workout regimen. While injured, he found ways to practice, such as working on his weakness or using his uninjured hand. There was no off-season for Bryant; his summer training sessions have traditionally been just as intense as regular seasons. Working hard, both on-the-court and off-the-court, was a consistent effort. Kobe Bryant lived and demonstrated the meaning of perseverance and hard work.

Talent can only take one’s profession so far in their career. For instance, most starting players in the NBA have the potential to score 20 points per game and some have scored a 20-point game, but most players cannot consistently perform at that high of a level every night. Just as most investors will have some years of beating the marketplace in their lifetime, but most investors cannot consistently beat the market average over a lifetime. Those few who can consistently perform at a high level shared one trait: hard work.

Bryant believes he should work hard as if he never possessed any talent. Why is Kobe Bryant such a hard worker? “To think of me as a person that’s overachieved, that would mean a lot to me. That means I put a lot of work in and squeezed every ounce of juice out of this orange that I could.”

Hard work is about commitment and there are no substitutes for hard work.

Blackberry (BB) had all the resources to compete against Apple (AAPL), but it has been truncated by a lack of innovation and it is no longer relevant in the phone industry. Blackberry attempted to recapture its market share with a rushed, unfinished smartphone… Blackberry simply did not put in enough R&D nor provided the engineering team enough time to deliver the promised features. Apple won already; Blackberry could never rival the same hours of commitment.

Actively Seeking Wisdom and Knowledge

Kobe was resourceful to leverage every tool to make him a better basketball player. Kobe watched soccer and realized soccer players had a unique freedom of movement. He noticed that soccer players used more ankle torque than basketball players, but they suffered less or the same probability of ankle injuries. Kobe started researching information to improve his signature shoe. He requested Nike to remove a few millimeters off the shoe’s sole to deliver better traction and incorporate the soccer shoe’s advantages. The new signature shoes resulted in a low top that features structural ankle support, improved traction, and response time.

Bryant would cold call basketball players and business leaders to learn about their success. He studied how animal predators would attack a pray to incorporate movements into his jump shots and studied psychology to mentally mess with his opponents. Kobe would study players’ weaknesses and studied the referee’s foul calls. Some would describe Kobe’s behavior as erratic, but champions in the same pedigree would view this obsession as very normal and even useful. 

Many successful people have an obsession about their work, it’s a very common trait that is found in leaders, business professionals, and investors. For example, Sam Walton immersed himself in the wisdom of all he could, from competitors to junior associates at Walmart. Walton took advantage of every opportunity to enhance business. The Walmart business model is built on low prices and efficiency. Another example is Elon Musk, he was months away from bankruptcy and he spent months sleeping in the Tesla factory to turn around the company. Warren Buffett searched 10,000 pages of Moody’s manual to become familiar with each public company. Once he found a few suitable investments, he would study everything he possibly could about these companies and invest accordingly.

Champions are continually growing and developing better skills. In a world of sports, championships are determined by a fraction of a second, one snap, one turnover, or other marginal variables.

In the world of investment, marginal variables are going to determine million dollars of earnings or a path towards bankruptcy.

Kobe Bryant’s dedication to basketball is inspirational. He influenced people and shared his wisdom. Bryant’s Mamba mentality is to work hard and live up to your potential.

Kobe believes he should always work hard as if he never possessed any talent.

The Millennial ‘Frugalpreneur’ Lifestyle

It’s 2020, it’s time for Millennials to live the ‘Frugalpreneur’ lifestyle, keeping the largest expenses as low as possible. You hear high-profile stories about how entrepreneurs have kept their expenses as low as possible to finance their business. If millennials and Gen Z can apply the same financial mindset as these thrifty entrepreneurs, finance will be a lot easier to manage. Saving money is simple, but why are some millennials so broke? It’s always about making smart financial choices; money is a finite resource and so is your time. Know how to spend money wisely and avoid purchases that do not add value to your life.

There are many overpriced “brand activities” in a society that put pressure on millennials and impose expensive social obligations on them. Social branding activities such as weddings, cars, luxury goods, independent living, travel and many others are responsible for Millennials’ financial stress. Who would you like to impress? In fact, most of these branding tactics are just ways for companies to make money, they usually do not add value to your life. If you can afford the social brand image, do it wisely, but don’t go into debt.

The average salary of millennials ranges from $60,000 to $100,000 per year. HENRY (High Earners Not Rich, Still) Millennials make $100,000 or more. Saving and investing in your early career might not look like much, but just wait until you reach your 30s. Millennials and Gen Zs, listen to me if you want a better financial life: your priorities must change. Money cannot solve personal life problems, but financial flexibility can relieve some of life’s difficulties. Utilize your money for purchases that will add the greatest value to your life at the best price. Living an intelligent financial lifestyle doesn’t look sexy because society is driven by marketing your life into perpetual spending habits with overrated experiences, temporary homes, and worthless cars.

Living independent – Very Overrated 

The simplest way to save money is to live with your parents or have a roommate! Rent is generally the highest recurring obligation: start cutting down on rent first because everything else is chump change.

Society should be impressed with Millennials living with their family or having roommates. It shows a sign of maturity and logical reasoning. Even if you make a lot of money, why bother living alone when living at home could be free or substantially less expensive? Unless there is a problem at home, living with your family should be the first obvious solution to save money.

The Millennials that cannot afford living alone are often pressure by society to rent their own place. People put themselves into so much debt to impress others that they are doing well by living alone or buying a new car, but none of these spending habits add value to Millennials’’ lives besides the illusion of their financial status. 

A few years ago, Kevin, one of my colleagues at KPMG asked me how I could afford to eat out for lunch every day.

Kevin’s background: Kevin lived with roommates for two years, and then rented his own one-bedroom apartment in Arlington, VA for $2,300 a month. 

Kevin: “Tom you are wasting a lot of money eating out.” 

Tom: “How much are you saving from not eating out?”

Kevin: “$200 a month” and he showed a big smile. 

Tom: “Wow that’s great, but I like eating out. I am sacrificing my personal space to live with roommates.” 

Kevin: “Oh you’re saving a lot of money living with roommates, I can’t do that though. I want my own space.”

Tom: “Yep, I am saving a lot of money,” I flashed a big smile back to Kevin and went out to lunch.

How much was I saving from living with roommates? 

$0 Dollars – I never had to pay any rent.

During college and my first two years on the job, I paid $600 a month to live with my family. I saved much of my money to purchase a house. After saving up for a deposit, I purchased a townhouse near a university campus. My mortgage was $2000/month and HOA was $100/monthly. I wasted no time in posting available rooms. I lived on my own less than a month before I had a college roommate who moved into my house. As early as the second month, all the rooms were rented. There were moments when I rented my room on Airbnb, which was the master bedroom, and I slept on the sofa. Sleeping on the sofa was a little extreme, but it helps speed up my savings.

Some people have very bad experiences living with other roommates and it is understandable. Living with a roommate isn’t convenient. It takes time to interview roommates that have good etiquette.

I am not saying that millennials have to live with their families, but whom do they want to impress? You can always live independently with your family by paying the rent and helping to care for the home. If living with family is not a viable option, then look for a good roommate.

If you want to live independently: rent an affordable basement and share a kitchen. Whatever you do, minimize your rental expenses as much as possible. Saving money on coffee, eating out, and being frugal with other smaller, discretionary spending does not comparable to saving money on rental expenses. 

Traveling often – Overrated

Traveling is great, but why are Millennials traveling so often? There should be a budget set for traveling. I am freaking out for my generation that are taken out loans and paying interest to travel more often. Does traveling often add value to anyone’s life? It could, but at what cost?

Eating out – Underrated

I can’t eat simple prepared meals like sandwiches, pizza, etc. I prefer meals that have a richer taste, which simply means a longer cooking time. I have to spend a lot of time grocery shopping, preparing, and cleaning just to make one meal. To me, it’s not worth the time to cook unless I’m cooking for a household of at least three people. The economic cost and time required to prepare a meal are wasteful. It would be just as affordable, and sometimes cheaper to eat out than making the food at home.

10% minimal saving & 10% Retirement – Very Underrated

  1. Pay off your discretionary debt that is above 5% interest. This means all credit cards should be paid off monthly. There are zero reasons to have a carry-over monthly credit card balance.
  2. After you pay off your credit card, then start saving 10% each month, but don’t let your cash sit in a savings account. Put your savings into a higher paying account like buying a stock market index, do not pick stocks (over 95% of investors will underperform the index) until you are educated about investment fundamentals like reading a financial statement, and financial risks.

Everyone should always invest in their retirement to get the employer’s match. The average employer’s match is 3%, which means it would require the employee to put in 6% to get the additional 3% from their employer. If you are 1099, or an entrepreneur, you should still have at least 10% of your income invested in your retirement.  

Buy a used, Affordable Car – Very Underrated

Again, you impress no one unless you have a secure financial life. Having enough money to buy a house should be top of mind. The only people who will be impressed by your beautiful cars are hidden fees that will treat you like a financial resource for their entertainment.  

Expensive Wedding and Wedding Rings – Overrated 

The average wedding in the United States costs more than $20K and it usually requires immediate payment. It’s crazy to hear how some people have to take out a loan to have a wedding… If you need a loan to have a wedding, forget it! Your close family and friends will still love and celebrate your union the same way! 

In many Asian cultures, cash is a standard wedding gift. My wedding was expensive, but our family and friends’ generous gifts helped recover a portion of the wedding costs. Although our wedding could have been a lot cheaper, my wife and I wanted our wedding to be a memorable experience in order to give gratitude to our family and friends for supporting us through our lives. We budgeted and postponed our honeymoon so that we wouldn’t incur any financial strife.

If you have the financial means for an expensive wedding and can afford a home quickly, then go ahead. But, if a wedding or wedding ring will delay your ability to purchase a home, then do not attempt to have an expensive wedding. Buying a house should be your top priority.

Birthday Gifts and Christmas Gifts – overrated 

We shouldn’t be shopping for random gifts. If you have to buy a gift for a special event, make sure it comes in handy. Most of the time, we buy bad gifts or try to make frivolous gifts that end up in the garden sale or in the donation stack. Instead, pay for an event, lunch or something that helps you maintain a good relationship with the person you are giving the gift to.

Fast Fashion and Cheap Fashion – overrated

Fast fashion clothes are usually just low quality. Buy quality items that cost a little more, and have less junk in the closet. Buy higher quality items like dress shoes suits and purses. Some items like Louis Vuitton are entry luxury items that come with lower end material that you would find in $300 items. If you can afford luxury, then buy a brand like Hermes because the resell value is better than most Louis Vuitton. I’m not a Michael Kors (MK) fan: their $300 bags are not high quality when compared to other $300 bags. There’s a reason why MK has been losing their brand equity…

Used Electronics – Underrated

I rarely ever buy any new electronics. I will always buy cheap, used electronics on eBay. If you know how to get the max capability from an electronic product there is no need to waste your money on the newest electronics. Go for cheaper used 2nd or 3rd generational products that can get the job done just as well as the newer models.