Pay attention to time as much as money.
It’s hard to spend a fortune without noticing. Someone with ordinary tastes would find it hard to blow through more than a few tens of thousands of dollars without thinking “wow, I’m spending a lot of money.”
Whereas if you start trading derivatives, you can lose a million dollars (as much as you want, really) in the blink of an eye. In most people’s minds, spending money on luxuries sets off alarms that making investments doesn’t. Luxuries seem self-indulgent. And unless you got the money by inheriting it or winning a lottery, you’ve already been thoroughly trained that self-indulgence leads to trouble. Investing bypasses those alarms. You’re not spending the money; you’re just moving it from one asset to another. Which is why people trying to sell you expensive things say “it’s an investment.”
The solution is to develop new alarms. This can be a tricky business, because while the alarms that prevent you from overspending are so basic that they may even be in our DNA, the ones that prevent you from making bad investments have to be learned, and are sometimes fairly counterintuitive.
A few days ago I realized something surprising: the situation with time is much the same as with money. The most dangerous way to lose time is not to spend it having fun, but to spend it doing fake work. When you spend time having fun, you know you’re being self-indulgent. Alarms start to go off fairly quickly. If I woke up one morning and sat down on the sofa and watched TV all day, I’d feel like something was terribly wrong. Just thinking about it makes me wince. I’d start to feel uncomfortable after sitting on a sofa watching TV for 2 hours, let alone a whole day.
Great essay by Paul Graham; In my mind this is the biggest pitfall of the 40 hour work week. I believe I’d be far more productive if I was given objectives and deadlines, but wasn’t required to be at my desk 40 hours a week.