So, What Do You Do?

iStock_000012965424MediumI was at a social event last week with my wife meeting some of her peers in her graduate school program at UNC Chapel Hill. At one point, I was asked the very standard question of what I did for a living. I explained what my job was and the responsibilities involved. It didn’t take long to see their eyes glazing over and giving me the courteous-but-uninterested nod of approval. For the record, I absolutely love my job and what I get to do every day. I get to exercise my brain, I help people manage their wealth, and I get to know interesting people from all walks of life on a very personal basis. But let’s be honest: talking about retirement planning to a bunch of 20-somethings doesn’t exactly illicit a crowd of attentive listeners. I acknowledged that it’s not the sexiest job to talk about at a party, but I was thrown off guard by the next question:

“So, what do you do for hobbies?”

For the first time in my life, I drew a blank. I’d always associated myself with sports and athletics, but I haven’t competed in anything in two years. My family loves to go hiking and backpacking, but our last overnight camping trip was four years ago. I exercise to keep myself healthy, but keeping yourself from an early, preventable death doesn’t qualify as a hobby. I was stumped.

I used to say that I’m a serial hobbyist. My hobbies change every two years, and that keeps things fresh for me. After college, I drove a Jeep Cherokee with big mud tires and went off-roading with my buddies regularly, up until my Jeep was stolen in San Diego. (A moment of silence for Big Blue, please.) I bought a motorcycle and enjoyed tinkering with that until I realized I didn’t want to become someone’s prized road kill and promptly sold my bike. I got the itch to start running again and entered a handful of road races and ran a half marathon. When I injured my leg, I got back in the pool and began Master’s swimming again, competing in various local meets and eventually Master’s Nationals in 2012. I am no Frances McEachran, but I can hold my own. In 2012 I joined a cult, I mean, started doing Crossfit and enjoyed the camaraderie and competitive nature of it all. I injured my back earlier in May and I figured yoga would be a good way to heal over the summer. Until one day when the instructor said, “The best thing about yoga is that you can’t win at yoga. There is no clock, no score, and no competition.” I haven’t been back since.

So here I am, with no hobbies and nothing cool to talk about at parties. With our clients, we always ask what you hope to accomplish with your money, what your timeline is, what your investment objective is, and how much risk you are willing to take. For our personal goals, I think we can use the same criteria. So here goes:

Objective: Compete at Master’s Swimming Nationals in April 2016 here in Greensboro.

Goals: To place Top-10 in one event, with goal times to be determined.

Timeline: 19 Months

Risk: No more than one 5:30 a.m. practice per week. If you’ve ever jumped into a cold pool at 5:30 a.m., you know what I’m talking about.

So the next time you see me, feel free to ask how the training is going. Hold me accountable; just don’t hold me to Frances McEachran standards. But please, I beg of you, for your own mental health and well-being do not try to picture me in a Speedo. It’s for your own good.