Hobby or Addiction

Ask me a year ago what my hobbies were and I’d include gambling as one of them. It was the act of doing something I loved: watching sports, combined with the thing I love most in this world: making money. It’s strange how we can become blindsided by an activity that in the long run can only end up badly. Short term is great, you have a good day with friends, you back a few winners and your day ends up costing you nothing due to the profit you made. As with anything that is a numbers game though, the stats don’t lie and the house always win.

At the beginning of this year I felt like I was in a good place. I had sold a few of my web properties, my personal life with friends & family was great and money wise I was sitting on the most cash I’ve had at my disposal so far in the 21 years I’ve been on this Earth. I had massive plans for 2013 and yet they all felt completely achievable with the financial backing I had at the time. I was planning on purchasing an investment property, paying all in cash to avoid the thing I hate most: debt. I’ve always said to myself that I’ll avoid getting into debt at all costs and as someone once put it: “…debt is the anchor that forces you to do things you don’t want to do, and pass up on things you should do”. I had shortlisted a few places that I was interested in buying and put off a few overseas trips that were planned to make sure I wasn’t spending money on completely irrelevant things. This all backfired though.

I don’t know if it’s just me, or if other people experience something similar but when I’m sitting on a large sum of cash that isn’t doing anything (except earning what, a few % of interest a year) I feel like it’s going to waste. I’ve said it time and time again that I want my money working for me, not the other way around. As I had a big purchase coming up I didn’t want to lock the money up into anything long-term so I focused purely on short term gains and somehow my young mind landed on gambling. As the story goes, it started off small, than it grew & grew and all of a sudden your plans have now been changed in a matter of days.

To put things into perspective, I’ve been gambling online since I’ve legally been allowed to when I turned 18 which was 3 years ago. As of today, the total amount of money I’ve deposited into my online betting account is: $292,173.00. That’s roughly $97,000 a year or ~$266 a day on gambling. Writing this out is where you can see that this wasn’t a hobby, it was an addiction that was crippling my bank account, keeping me awake at all hours of the night and just straight up ruining my concentration & productivity. The sad fact is that this was only what I gambled online, this doesn’t take into account the money I spent in clubs, pubs, at the track & various casinos.

So what do you do when see that an addiction is ruining parts of your life? For me, the first step was obviously deleting my online betting accounts. As easy as it sounds, many people would simply say that they’re quitting and telling themselves that they wont log in again. Of course, this isn’t the case. People are strong, but they do have weaknesses and lapses of concentration which again puts short term gains ahead of the long term goals. The other important step was telling family & friends – the hardest but probably the most important is keeping these people in the loop. It’s easy to forget about this, but these are the people you turn to when shit hits the fan.

Apart from that, you work harder than ever before. This is the early part of my life when I’m tested. I have to find a way to motivate myself & hustle back to the top. I have to find ways to stop myself looking at short term gains which are incredibly risky and overall bad for my health. I need to find a new hobby which, ironically, isn’t betting on the tennis, but playing tennis. I’ve got all of the gear, I’ve joined a club and I’m playing several times a week. I still find myself playing as if I had money on myself, but that might be just my competitive personality and not my desire to gamble again.

One thing is for sure and that’s that I no longer have the distraction of gambling in the back of my mind. I have more time to focus on important things (one of them being this blog). This is me getting back to my roots.