How to actually be your own boss?
This is a question that I have been asking myself quite a bit recently. It addresses a little dilemma that I feel has been bugging me every now and then throughout my six years of playing poker professionally.
When I got into online poker back in 2006 I was right in the middle of my studies at university and working part-time jobs to pay the bills. Whenever I had free time or was on semester break I would be more than excited to grind for hours, days and nights - and when at university, preparing for exams or working hours I would be mostly thinking about poker hands or strategy. I would not care much about schedules, deadlines or daily rhythms. Nothing could stop me from thinking about poker or grinding when I finally had the time for it. I might even sometimes forget to eat or drink properly for hours, and when my body finally urged me to I would be good with pretty much anything within arm's reach.
Reading it out loud now it doesn't sound too healthy and you're right, it probably wasn't most of the time. But I was motivated, inspired and driven by the idea of being able to someday have my own hours of grinding without adjusting them to anybody else's schedules but my own - the more than beautiful idea of poker allowing you to be your own boss!
In 2008 things got serious, and I finally became that boss of mine. I started out grinding whenever I felt like it, rather than sticking to any specific hours. The downsides to this approach quickly became apparent. Not eating healthy, sitting in front of my computer for long hours, not exercising enough, not socialising enough. I realized that there is more to "being your own boss" than just doing whatever, or playing whenever you felt like. It was about taking care of my body and my mind by adjusting my grinding schedule and getting it in line with a 'healthy life schedule'. Soon enough I married the love of my life and adjusting that schedule became even more important!
A couple of years into my career and I (or rather 'we') had sculpted and tried out several different rhythms, most of which really worked well. I was still my own boss but I would feel more of a responsibility to really BE that boss to myself. Each and every rhythm I came up with shared one downside however--they sometimes prevented me from playing when I was actually really FEELING like playing. But more of life's obligations, which to me include things like working out, would deter me from it. And on the contrary, at other times when I didn't feel like playing my schedule would tell me otherwise and make me feel bad about a wasted opportunity to get volume in.
Here's a recent sample of a plan I made:
On the one hand I play poker professionally to maintain a living and that requires me to be as professional about every aspect of my poker life as possible. But on the other hand I would like to live my life while actually still PLAYING poker.
I have been toying around with a new schedule recently but I still haven't quite found what I am truly looking for. I guess the optimum lies in 'mixing it up' and keeping areas of the schedule as flexible as possible to allow myself to get into grind mode or do something else without feeling bad about it.
As is the case with poker itself, this is one big life task that needs constant work and adjustments to improve at it - I will let you know as soon as I have come up with an optimized approach!
Felix Schneiders is a member of PokerStars Team Online.