Frederick Beuchner—a favorite writer on many subjects—notes the dilemma of finding your right livelihood. “There are different kinds of voices calling you to all different kinds of work, and the problem is to find out which

[one is right for you].”  His advice is this:  Among all these competing voices, find work (a) that you need most to do and (b) that the world most needs to have done.”

As we approach Labor Day, this week we examine aspects of work that are worthy of thoughtful consideration.  This subject is important, because the way you marshal your human capital over a lifetime is far more important to most people than the rate of return on their investments.  Human capital is the sum total of your competencies, knowledge, social and personality attributes, including creativity, which you use in your work to create economic value.

The first article conveys one person’s wisdom of when you know you’ve found your life’s work.  The second article addresses the role of money in creating emotional well-being, concluding that above a certain point, money doesn’t buy more happiness.   The third article is commentary and perspective on a recent situation where a young investment banking intern seems to have literally worked himself to death.

8 Signs You’ve Found Your Life’s Work.    The author notes that getting to a place in life where he thrives was a journey “both arduous and enthralling.”  He made mistakes along the way.  He failed to heed his intuition.  Sometimes he was scared.  Though he learned from all his mistakes, he wants to save his readers some time and energy by offering eight signs you have found your life’s work.

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Beyond a certain point, money doesn’t buy more happiness.  The authors—one a renowned behavioral economist—raise the question of whether money buys happiness.   They found “emotional wellbeing leveled off at $75,000/year of household income.  In other words, the quality of everyday emotional experiences did not improve beyond an income of approximately $75,000 a year; above a certain income level, people’s emotional wellbeing is constrained by other factors, such as temperament and life circumstances.”  Life evaluation, by contrast, which refers to a person’s thoughts about his or her life, does rise with income.  To clarify, life evaluation is the judgment individuals make when they think about their life.  Emotional well-being, by contrast, refers to the feelings individuals experience as they live their life. “Beyond approximately $75,000 in the contemporary United States, higher income is neither the road to experienced happiness nor the road to the relief of unhappiness or stress, although higher income continues to improve individuals’ life evaluations.”

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Working round the clock is a poor use of time.  “Working 14 hours a day is ruinous to your health, your family, your relationships, your personality and your temper.”  Yet, that is the culture of many business enterprises, especially some of the larger financial service organizations.  The occasion for this commentary was the death of a 21-year old intern at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in the UK.  An online report indicated that the intern’s death was due to an epileptic fit after he worked until 6am three days in a row.  “Investment bankers surround themselves with other investment bankers and so their idea of what is normal is grotesquely distorted.”  “Senior bankers claim long hours are the result of never-ending demands by clients…the greatest stupidity in this thoroughly daft system is how badly it serves the client’s interests.”  This story could have been written about any number of firms in the U.S.

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And in case you missed it, click here to read last week’s blog post on the fact that sometimes good news is greeted poorly by the market.

We hope you enjoy reading these articles along with us and that you find them informative.  Please forward this to your friends and family.

J. Mark Nickell & Co.


Disclosure – The articles mentioned in This Week with J. Mark Nickell & Co. are for information and educational purposes only. They represent a sample of the numerous articles that the firm reads each week to stay current on financial and economic topics. The articles are linked to websites separate from the J. Mark Nickell & Co. website. The opinions expressed in these articles are the opinions of the author and not J. Mark Nickell & Co. This is not an offer to buy or sell any security.  J. Mark Nickell & Co. is under no obligation to update any of the information in these articles. We cannot attest to the accuracy of the data in the articles.