An Exercise in Self-Reflection
- Grab a Piece of Paper and a Pencil
- Write down 5 things you are AWESOME at.
- Write down 5 weaknesses you have.
- Write down 1 thing you want to actively get better at.
If you don’t know this about me yet, let me just tell you that I am NOT a patient person. I have zero patience. When I decided I wanted to have a baby, I wanted her to arrive yesterday!* When I apply for something or have to wait for results, the world ENDS until I find out. If none of this sounds like you, GOOD NEWS! You are already one giant step ahead of me on your journey to financial independence!
I, myself, am famous** for saying: “Financial Independence is not a marathon. It’s more like a sprint followed by a rest on a moving sidewalk.” We all know the power of compounding and the numbers behind how easy it is to become a millionaire when time is on your side, but sometimes it’s just plain hard to remember.
In the book Born for This by Chris Guillebeau, he recommends setting a date to resign from your job each year. On that date, you commit to resigning if your job is not the best fit. This exercise forces you to re-evaluate every year with an ultimatum. Are you miserable? This is quitting day! Things going great? Reset the calendar reminder for next year and carry on.
Many advocate that if you prepare for the absolute worst case scenario, you’ll get over your fear. So, what if you lost your job tomorrow? What is the worst that could happen? Your family goes hungry. You lose your house. Jobs are scarce. Keep the thought experiment going. What would you actually do?
In preparation for Thanksgiving this year, we’re going to do a practical gratitude exercise. This is Thanksgiving week. (YAY!) Think about where you were last year at this time: how old were your kids? who was with you Thanksgiving week? where were you? what were you working on? what things were you wishing you were doing better?
Do not focus on the negative. Life happens. Maybe this year had a lot of bad things happen. Now is not the time to talk about those.
Focus on the growth. Pick (at least) 2 things that are better this year than last year.
What day of the week would you guess searches for jokes are at their peak?
I would guess Monday. How else would you get through a “bad case of the Mondays”? Turns out, I’m wrong! Searches for jokes are at their LOWEST on Mondays! And highest on Fridays-Sundays (when I commonly search for lunchbox jokes for the kids for the week).
So what search terms are highest on Mondays?
Depression. Anxiety. Doctor.
This is devastating. Joke searches also dive after traumatic news events like bombings. This information suggests two things:
On Monday, I made a case for not swimming alone, but finding people passionate about your subject and swimming with them. You’ll notice I did not use the word “expert.” When you’re seeking out someone with that passion, you want them to be both an amateur AND an expert.
1. One who loves or is fond of, one who has a taste for anything.
2. a. One who cultivates anything as a pastime, as distinguished from one who prosecutes it professionally; hence, sometimes used disparagingly, as = dabbler, or superficial student or worker. b. Often prefixed (in apposition) to another designation, as amateur painter, amateur gardener.
3.a. Hence attrib. almost adj. Done by amateurs. Cf. amateur gardener with amateur gardening.
b. Used disparagingly. Cf. sense 2.
Following this list of definitions, “amateur” both means someone with such a passion about a subject, it goes beyond everyday interest as well as someone that “dabbles” instead of seriously studying.
“Amateur” comes from the Latin “Amatore” meaning “Lover of.”
When I was working in the office last month, I stayed in a nearby hotel and made myself go swimming each evening after work to get some exercise and relax. Each evening I was the only one in the pool. The last night (that’s right, I blatantly ignored them for four days), I read the posted rules for the pool. The last one read simply: DO NOT SWIM ALONE.
My first thought? Oh no! I’m going to die in here and no one will even know! Second thought: That’s ridiculous. I’m an adult and a competent swimmer. Third thought: I think I feel a metaphor coming on…
If you’ve read this blog at all, you know I love a good metaphor whether it comes from watching some fishermen or straight out of a fortune cookie. And here was a brilliant one, right on the wall of the hotel pool.
There are many paths to the top of the mountain, but only one view.
This was my fortune cookie from a catered work lunch a couple weeks ago. This one simple idea has so many facets. Here are a few things I’ve realized:
We continue to harp on how personal finance is personal, but it’s true. There is relativity in finances as well. You and I may have the same numbers, but that does not mean we are the same. You will go your path and I will go mine. Some of us are starting on opposite sides of the mountain. Are some paths easier? Yes. Are any of the paths wrong? No! If your path is going up, you’re heading in the right direction!
If you’ve read enough about how to become rich, you’ve probably encountered two concepts:
Let me start by stating that I agree that the Pareto Principle is real and outsourcing can be useful in some regards. Let me also state that I agree that while frugality has limits, income potential does not. I agree that everyone is capable of earning more and the amount is potentially limitless.
Last week, I was singing along with Katy Perry’s Roar* and with the Olympics coming up, I started really thinking about what gets me going. I’m all for singing “Dancing through the fire. ‘Cause I am the champion, and you’re gonna hear me roar!” at the top of my lungs. Now I’m watching the Olympics (obsessively) and it’s clear that to be an Olympian, that is your life. You eat, breathe, train, strategize, and compete. You break your leg? Get back out there! Your team needs you! You give yourself a concussion? Shake it off! You can still win yourself a medal! These people are passionate. They found their thing and now they’re doing it.
What about the rest of us?
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This fills up as we pay our mortgage down. We started with $90,000 left on our mortgage.
This charts our investment progress to early retirement.