Seek financial independence
Although I can be rather formal and I’m generally not a rule breaker, I’m also somewhat of an anticonformist with a strong need not to feel like another cog in some machine, be that machine society or place of employment.
As a kid born and raised in Italy, I remember this culture of aiming to someday "find a job". Passion for computers and programming and a willingness to move outside the country was thankfully my ticket away from a possible life that I would have considered a curse for myself.
I then proceeded to work for many years in game development, doing mostly 3D programming, something that always compelled me, because it was both technically challenging and also offered the exciting perspective of tapping into the creation of virtual worlds where one could easily experience new things.
On my first real try for independence I still went for video games, because that’s what I knew best and because there were things that I wanted to create and publish, which can be quite rewarding.
However games aren’t really such a great business. Today, game development has largely been commoditized. The first mobile hardware still required a certain degree of technical skills to publish something noteworthy, but that has progressively not been the case.
Although I think that there’s still a lot of room for application of technology to game development, that’s something that is better done in a larger team, as an employee with maybe a great salary, but still an employee nonetheless, at an age when one is supposed to become a manager and stop worrying about software engineering… no thanks.
From that perspective, the best move that I could have done was probably what I did when I put all my efforts into making something of algorithmic trading. It’s taken a lot of time and effort to finally have some degree of confidence in it, but it’s given me a direct path to build wealth. Unlike when developing a game, right from the start there’s a sense that one could put some algorithm live on some market and start to print money. That’s unfortunately not the case, and all things considered it still took a good couple of years of continued work before hoping to truly see some profits being generated with some degree of confidence.
Nevertheless, to be working with finance it’s still a much more direct path to wealth, and one naturally develops skills necessary to understand investing, something that everyone should know something (or a lot) about.
All this may sound like I’m obsessed with wealth, but it’s really more about independence. We live in an unfair world where money is never enough. At some point or another, one needs an excess of wealth to solve some problem. My paranoid side tells me that it’s a mistake to live a standard live with a good salary and hope to get comfort, health and occasionally some justice… that is of course if one values his own individuality, a view that nowadays may not be as popular, but to each their own.