You Are What You Do All Day, Until You Are

Malcom Gladwell has a knack for catching the public consciousness, doesn’t he?

Ever since that Outliers book (I’ve never read a Gladwell book), much of the really interesting writing I’ve come across probably owes its inspiration to him. Every personal experiment runs into its Gladwell moment:

Let me get to the big point here: You are what you do all day.

What does all this research about your body adapting to circumstances tell us?You are what you do all day.

What does all this research about brain plasticity and rewiring tell us? You are what you do all day.

That probably scares the shit out of a lot of people. And it should.

What did you do today? Is that what you want to be a genius at in 13 years? Is that what you want to become?

Nietzsche spoke of the eternal recurrence. Basically, you should live in such a way so that if I said to you, “You’re going to have to repeat this life over and over again for infinity” that your response would be “Sounds great.”

Do you feel that way? If not, are you going to change what you do tomorrow?

Your brain will change to adapt. Your body will change to adapt.

But will you?

And I’m sitting at one right now, actually. These Stanford courses have whetted my appetite for serious learning and I’m completely uninterested in actually shelling out real dough fo the privilege of packing my brain.

So I’m going to do the reverse of making my hobby my day job. I’m going to, once again, make my day job my hobby. I’m going to become an actuary.

By a Gladwellian definition, I’m already an actuary, or getting close, anyway. It’s what I do all day and, though I don’t quite have 10,000 hours under my belt, I’ve probably got about 3-4,000 hours of pure actuarial experience in the bag. My job has been migrating this way over the last five years or so and when I moved down here to New York it’s pretty much become full time.

And I love it. I really do.

My TIPPING POINT came when I downloaded an actuarial text for pure extra reading and reference for work. I thought to myself: how many people are stupid enough to read something like this and choose to spend zero extra effort to join one of the highest-status clubs on earth with infinite job security and economic prospects?

I had a flick through the syllabi of the 5 exams I’m going to need (I did one years ago between CFA exams) and I was surprised at how much I already know. See paragraph above. Facepalm.

So the first one is in January and I’m going to pack as many as I can in next year, which is probably going to be three. If it’s going super-duper well, I might chance a fourth. We shall see.

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