Category Archives: Self-Improvement

Keeping Life Perspective

 

‘What? Didn’t your parents ever tell you who delivers babies???’

It’s been a crazy couple of months in the TFG household and there is about to be a big change coming…

2016 was a great year. I changed job roles to something more fulfilling, ran my first half marathon, continued my seemingly endless grind towards the higher level degree plan, and we successfully grew our net worth by about 39%.

But it’s not to say that I didn’t have my share of shortfalls either. I definitely didn’t read 12 books and sure as hell didn’t condition myself into become a perky and productive morning person.

But for some reason none of these failed goals were the most upsetting to me. Early last year I read multiple books on running. My favorite of which was Meb Keflezighi’s Run to Overcome. Over a 6 month time-period last year, my mindset had shifted from finishing my first half marathon to training and running for a marathon. 26.2 miles of running. 1 month earlier, I had run more than 13.1 miles once, maybe twice. I became infatuated with the idea of running a marathon. Late last summer I finally convinced the Mrs. that it was an attainable idea and my body could handle it. I took meticulous notes and read many different training plans. I planned out my runs daily, even to fit the schedule around my busy work weeks.

From Oct 1 to Dec 1 I ran over 140 miles. No world record, but for me a herculean number. My body hadn’t felt this great since high school. One Sunday in early December I was due to run 9 miles which was a relatively moderate run by this time in the cycle. I was a week away from a warm-up half marathon just about half way through my training for the big marathon day in late Feb (it would be next week actually). But after 1.5 miles, I realized something was wrong. I felt a strange twinge in my right knee. A new sensation that I hadn’t felt before. I didn’t have a good feeling from that moment, but I kept moving and hoped that I could shake it off. After 3 miles, I knew it wasn’t going to happen that day and I called it quits after 5.

Over the next week, I realized the warm up half-marathon wasn’t going to happen comfortably. I could run if that was the end goal, but the end goal was many, many long runs away so I abandoned that idea quickly. Over the next few weeks, I stretched, iced, rested and tried to walk and run a few times. But each time within a mile of starting running, that knee twinge feeling came back quickly and swiftly.

Eventually I abandoned the idea of running a marathon next week (late Feb 2017). I had just lost too much fitness and too much time to catch up and my knee was still feeling jacked up. My knee feels better for the most part the last week or two when I’ve gone on some short runs. So 50-60 day turn around time, for what probably is just a classic case of runner’s knee. I was pretty upset about this whole thing, especially in December into early January.

It’s this point at the story where I hope you are saying 1 of 2 things, either: 1) what’s the whole point of this story? or 2) dude, get a grip, you had a minor running injury setback and can’t run a planned marathon – BOOHOO.

Early last fall, my wife and I learned that we will bringing a baby boy into this world this coming summer. It was exciting to find out and admittedly we were both a  little freaked out. Even when these things are planned, which it was, they can be overwhelming. Mainly that – we now recently have somewhat of a handle on taking care of ourselves. But being responsible for a small human in the form of baby monster that starts as some cells, grows in my wife’s stomach and you know the rest – that part of it is just mind-boggling to me. And probably always will be. Science.

So it’s important to know that the running injury happened after we found out we were having a baby. In what takes the cake as probably one of the more childish thoughts I’ve had in a long time, I was so focused on my injury that I forgot to back up and get a little perspective. There are many more important things than running a marathon. You know, for example, like having a happy & healthy baby.

I think everyone goes on a different journey in this time of their life. From going to finding out that you knocked someone up to being a father in 9 months is a big step and a big journey. I’m still discovering what that means. What I can say is the fact that I couldn’t run a marathon right now meant I spent much more time with my wife and unborn baby boy than I would have these last 60 days. But more than that maybe this experience and minor setback gave me a new perspective that was needed for the next chapter in our lives. I’m not a big believer in divine intervention, but maybe some things are meant to be. Or maybe I just needed an attitude adjustment. I feel as though my wife and I have never been closer. And I can definitely start to appreciate the idea that parents will do anything for their child.

Running a marathon is still on my list of goals, but it’s definitely not a priority. Running is a good mind exercise for me and a great time to think. Hopefully next time my mindset will be in a better place when I start the training journey.

Until next time – TFG

You Deserve A Vacation

My wife and I just got back from a vacation weekend in Colorado. It was great. And no it’s not because of that. Sometimes it’s great to just escape “real-life” for a few days or a week and explore this amazing Earth.

The financial independence online community talks about budgeting, savings, early retirement all the time. One thing that we definitely don’t mention enough is that 8 letter word that can be so elusive to our busy daily lives – VACATION!

You work hard. You stay late to finish those deadline projects. You bus the kids from event to event. You deserve it. This must be what goes through the minds of normal spendaholics when they are at Best Buy spontaneously looking at a TV or at a car dealership deciding they want to trade-in their 3 year old car. For me and probably many of you who decided to click the link to this site – I am much more interested in experiences than in stuff.

Hanging Lake Trail in Colorado - a Lake in the middle of Glenwood Canyon at 7,000 elevation can be yours for the total of $0.00 - FREE!
Hanging Lake Trail in Colorado – a lake in the middle of Glenwood Canyon at 7,000 elevation can be yours for the total of $0.00 – FREE! Go enjoy nature. Great 2 hour hike.

Whether you go to China or camping in a national park a few hours away it’s good to get away sometimes. People can obviously shell out some serious cash for their trips half-way around the world to remote islands (now taking donations for my next & first trip to Bora Bora). But it’s obviously possible to have a great trip without spending tons of money too. Most national parks are $20 (or free), so don’t give me the excuse that you can’t afford it. I have some family & friends that don’t believe in vacation or believe that they can’t afford it. Sorry not gonna buy that crap.

It’s completely possible to vacate without breaking your financial plan. You just might not be able to go to Paris. Yet. But maybe someday.

The memories last a lifetime

Everyone has fond (and not so fond) memories of trips with family and friends. That time your brother farted in the car on the way to the Grand Canyon and almost made your dad crash because it was so ransid. Whatever it is, you will always have the memories. Or bring a GoPro – then you have the video to prove it too. One thing I will say is that I have gotten a bit better about just enjoying the moment. Too often we stand behind our camera or photo lens.

It helps you get creative

Whether you are stuck on a work problem, thinking through a career or personal crisis, or exploring potential new entrepreneurship itches. Sometimes getting away gives me an outlet to think about things I would have never thought possible.

Sometimes it’s okay to turn your brain off from regular daily life

There is a good reason some people get burnt out. Sure maybe they are just an unpleasant person that likes to bitch about everything. But just as likely, they haven’t taken a vacation in a couple of years. It’s okay for little Johnny or Suzy to miss a couple of soccer practices. And the office will survive without you. Work will be there when you get back.

You gain new perspective

This is a big one for me. Seeing different cultures opens our minds to different ideas and ways of life. So many of us in the FIRE community are focused on gaining financial independence early in life. I will always distinctly remember the moment standing on a bridge in Florence, Italy where the financial independence light flickered for the first time in my wife’s mind. We are two very different people, but I think that special moment helped her at least understand why I think it’s so important to be financially free (aka so we can go on badass trips like that one more often). Still working on that 🙂

So where’s your next vacation going to be? Be a little crazy and spontaneous. Or plan it out, sometimes that’s half the fun. Just remember we do only live this life once, so take full advantage.

-TFG

My 2016 Goals – April Update

Feeling left out since I'm a non-Cali financial blogger. HA!
Feeling left out since I’m a non-Cali personal finance blogger. HA!

FINALLY DONE WITH SPRING CLASSES. And it feels so good. The end of this last semester seemed to drag on forever and with the new job, I felt like I haven’t had any time to do much of anything around the house lately. It’s been really nice to catch up on stuff these last few days.

Become a Morning Person

No change from last month – so we’ll hold the status.

Still a work-in-progress because lately I have found late nights to be really productive time for me, especially with school. I would say I still get graded an “I” for incomplete on this one. Still a lot of work to do here.

Run 365 366 Miles this Year

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April was a good running month. I’m sure it was the furtherest farthest (yes, I’m good at grammar) I have ever run in a month because…

Run 2 10Ks & Run my first half-marathon

1 10K Down. 1 Half-Marathon Down.

First Half-Marathon Complete! I clocked in at 2:00:51 for my first 13.1 – which is about a 9:12 pace per mile. My initial goal, a while back, was 2 hours. I definitely reevaluated that lately because I felt like my comfortable running pace for long distances was a bit slower. With that said, I felt really good on race-day and didn’t really hit a wall until mile 12. Overall no complaints and I was very happy.

I’m taking it easy these next couple weeks, but I want to step back in and likely run another half-marathon this fall and push myself a little harder. So this goal may need to be modified for the better.

50 First Dates

A couple of fun trips to Costco and random going out for frozen yogurt lately has been the highlights here. I need to up my game, which should be pretty easy to do now that I have a repreieve from school. Our wedding anniversary is coming up and probably a long weekend trip, as well, likely to Denver.

Make at least $7,500 profit from side hustle-y things

No change here – falling off the pace for my initial 2016 $ goal, but there are only 24 hours in the day. Need to go on an eBay binge here pretty soon. If you list on eBay, you know what I’m talking about. One of those days where I just go hard and list stuff all day.

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Read at least 12 Books (yes, from start – finish)

In the middle of a couple of audio books right now. I’ve also thrown around the idea of running to audio books but haven’t done that yet. I’ll report back to see how that goes.

Increase Net Worth by 35% (About $65K)

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We are now on pace to beat our net worth growth goal for the year. Nothing really of note has occurred in the last month or so just the automated savings doing its thang. May might be a bit of a rough month, as we just got a new fence this week (ouch $$$$). But, that thing is nice and makes me really want to up my yard game.

Until next month!

-TFG

My 2016 Goals – Q1 Update

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It’s really hard to believe we are already to April this year. Time has flown and a lot has happened in the last 2 weeks months (ha – yes, I’m tired). We went to Hawaii, I’ve survived mid-terms for another semester, and I am finishing up the transition of an internal job change. The increased responsibilites will keep me on my toes and probably cause me to dial back a bit on some of these other priorities, but it’s a good career growth opportunity.

Now that I’m through a quarter of the year, let’s see how I’m doing on my original set of 2016 goals.

Become a Morning Person

Still a work-in-progress because lately I have found late nights to be really productive time for me, especially with school. I would say I still get graded an “I” for incomplete on this one. Still a lot of work to do here.

Run 365 366 Miles this Year

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Funny story, we actually found two mornings to run when we were in Maui in February. But it took me almost 3 weeks to have a good run after we came back – guess the runs just aren’t as scenic over here in Texas!

Run 2 10Ks & Run my first half-marathon

Ran a 10K at the end of March to gear up for an upcoming half-marathon. I shattered my personal best for a 6.2 mile run in 49:41 (8-minute flat pace!). It always helps when others are around to help keep a good pace because as you can see I am usually quite a bit slower than 8 minutes. In April, I am focusing on my half-marathon prep, which is actually later this month. So I fully expect slower times – probably in the 9:30 ish range. But I need to work the distance big time – so 55-60 miles is a really good goal for the month of April.

50 First Dates

Our trip to Hawaii, of course, was a great romantic getaway. Recently we have done some small trips with friends and family, but I definitely feel like I need to make this more of a priority in the next month or so. Lately, between the craziness of school and the busyness of a job transition its been tough. Things should start to settle down starting in mid-April and we need to find some great date ideas.

Make at least $7,500 profit from side hustle-y things

This goal has definitely fallen off the tracks a bit. Just not enough waking hours in the day (*cough* doesn’t help when I sleep in *cough). eBay and Amazon have just been small stuff because I haven’t found the time to list very much lately. As spring semester starts to slow down, I need to fix this. And garage sale season is gearing up to be in full swing – I need to get out there and buy up all the good stuff!

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Read at least 12 Books (yes, from start – finish)

Fail. Zero Books Completed.

Increase Net Worth by 35% (About $65K)

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Financial market wise – February & March were much more generous to us than January. Nothing out of the ordinary on my side really. I did take a slight increase to primary residence because the comps have been trending upwards and I wanted to keep my holding value in line (still pretty conservative). Up and to the right, exactly what I like to see!

How are your 2016 goals doing?

-TFG

My 2016 Goals – January Update

January is over and that new year’s resolution feeling has fully worn off by now. Are you changing your habits or did you make empty promises to yourself that you haven’t kept?

Let’s see the progress on my 2016 goals below:

Become a Morning Person

I’m embarrassed to say, but as a grown-ass man I click the snooze button WAY too much. I am still working on getting into my routine that will get me up and productive earlier in the day. The last week or so I have tried to move my alarm to a place where I can’t reach it in bed and I think this has started to help, but still a lot of work to do here to break old habits.

Run 365 366 Miles this Year

I realized that 2016 is a leap year so February 29 is gracing us with her presence this year. In the spirit of keeping with the average of 1 mile per day I’ve upped my number to 366 miles.

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All in all, not a bad way to start out the year on the exercise side of things. January included a total of 10 runs for 33.8 miles total at sub 8:50 average pace. I don’t particularly love running on the treadmill but intervals are good to do from time to time. It also helps me understand my natural pace and try to push/change my natural pace.

Run 2 10Ks & Run my first half-marathon

I’ve started to zero in on my dates for my first 10K (end of March) and half-marathon (mid-April). I have no doubts of running 6.1 miles right now in the shape that I’m in, but still have to work on the mental aspect of running 13.1 miles. So plenty of work left to do here in the coming weeks and months before the half.

50 First Dates

Success in the first month of the year! Highlights include an evening staying in to discuss 2016 financial goals, finally catching Star Wars 7, our too often trips to Costco & the grocery stores, and shopping for some clothes for an upcoming trip to Hawaii –
BE JEALOUS! 😉

Make at least $7,500 profit from side hustle-y things

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Relatively slow start out of the gates here for January. On the eBay side of things, I listed so heavily in Q4 of last year, I’ve had a bit of a hangover. I’ve gotten a decent amount of inventory to Amazon these last few weeks. The biggest thing I am interested to see is what my margins look like once I get my FBA Amazon action really moving. Historically, I have averaged 45-50% margins on eBay. I highly doubt I will hold that high of a margin on Amazon. But it’s also much easier to send things to Amazon in bulk than to list on eBay individually. The other category is mainly some LA Laker’s tickets that I snagged up for Kobe’s retirement tour and re-sold. More to come on that later.

Read at least 12 Books (yes, from start – finish)

About half way through Smart Couples Finish Rich  and currently listening to The Power of Habit on audiobook. I’ll give my thoughts on each when I am through with them.

Increase Net Worth by 35% (About $65K)

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As we all know, it was a rough month for equities across the globe. Just remember that sometimes volatility is good for us over the long term. I expect 2016 to be a bumpy road with plenty of ups & downs in the market. I still expect to max out my HSA, pay down my mortgage, save in pre and post tax retirement accounts. Nothing to see here.

 

-TFG

MY 2016 GOALS SUMMARY – THE BIG 7

I have never been a big fan of New Year’s resolutions, but I suppose creating a list of my 2016 goals is similar. Perhaps a bit less cliché (but is it really?!).

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There is something about writing goals down that makes me push towards them harder. Maybe it is just getting them out of my head and on to a piece of paper, or maybe it is posting them online in hopes that sharing them with a bunch of strangers on the internet will help keep me more accountable. Either way, I highly encourage you to WRITE DOWN (like with an actual pen, not invisible ink) some goals for the upcoming month, quarter, or year. Even if is just a few. Start small, if necessary, and grow from there. Figure out a way to track your progress and check-in regularly. That’s my plan and we’ll see how it goes this year. I will be updating my goal charts monthly. Here are my 7 big goals for 2016.

Become a Morning Person

If you haven’t seen my post on what my current schedule is and where I want to be: check it out. This goal is a hard one to quantify, but there is a reason that it is listed first. Waking up early will help me become a MUCH more productive person and help me achieve my other goals this year and for many, many years to come.

Run 365 Miles this Year

The 365 isn’t significant, other than it really just means that I average at least 1 mile per day. I didn’t want to set this bar too high, as I am not necessarily focused on the arbitrary number, but more the general improvement in my lifestyle and exercise routine. I would expect that I run 2-4 times a week, but that’s not enough by itself. I also will be looking to strengthen my core through some of my wife’s ridiculous work-out at home routines and other weight exercises.

Run 2 10Ks & Run my first half-marathon

I have run 2 10K races in my life. I trained really hard for the first a few years ago and I felt like the journey did my body well. The second time around, I guess my mindset was, been there, done that, because I didn’t train as much. But I did gain something from that race. Because I had done it before, I knew how hard I could push my body and actually ended up with a better time than the first time around (both around 53 minutes). My goal this year is to run to 2 sub 50-minute 10Ks and my first half in under 2 hours. Lofty time goals but go big or go home.

50 First Dates

Okay, get the cheese ball out. But seriously, I want my wife and me to spend more time together. I really mean being engaged with each other. Stipulation here is that if we are watching TV or on our phones, it doesn’t count as a date. It will help that we are on the same schedule, since she doesn’t work during the middle of the night anymore!

Make at least $7,500 profit from side hustle-y things

I’ve got my eBay store, small-time ticket brokering, and recently started with the Fulfillment by Amazon path. If I have time, I am also looking to get some side consulting and/or tutoring going as these types of ventures are nearly pure profit other than the time that I invest in them. Last year I was too focused on sales volume, this year the focus needs to be on the cost-benefit analysis of my time vs. the profit that comes from the activity.

Read at least 12 Books (yes, from start – finish)

And no my accounting & economic textbooks for my spring classes won’t count. As I disclosed last month, I am great at cracking open books, but not good about finishing them. Exhibit A – I did not read Smart Couples Finish Rich last month fully, so that was a fail! Need to do a better a job of carving out time daily or nearly-daily to read. I am a creature of habit.

Increase Net Worth by 35% (About $65K)

Both Financial Samurai and I believe the market will take a slight decline in 2016. If I get a positive return on my investments in the next year, it will just be gravy. I’m not counting on it and honestly not worried about it, either way. With that said, I can still save money in my 401K, ROTH, & HSA accounts, pay down my mortgage, and increase other after-tax savings. With increases of about 31% and 32% respectively each of the last two years, a 35% net worth increase is a bit lofty of a goal, but I like challenges.

 

Notice that my blog is not in my top 7 goals this year. I only have so much bandwidth and I love reading and writing about personal finance. Ideally, I have a goal of posting every week this year, but I need to be realistic about my priorities. I think this is another underrated part of goal-setting. Making sure you prioritize what is in front of you and executing on the highest priorities. If you get to the lower priority goals, AWESOME! If not, pick yourself up, realize you can’t do it all at once, and re-evaluate your priorities next time, if necessary.

Stay tuned next month for updates and goal charts. What are some of your goals this year? How do you plan to achieve them and what are the biggest obstacles you see in the upcoming year?

How Am I Doing on My Goals – Month 1 Report Card

So it’s been a month and a half since my initial post on setting some new goals. Below is my month 1 report card. I’ve been watching a lot of Breaking Bad Seasons 4 & 5 lately, so that can’t be a good sign…

Average 4 Work Outs per Week: A-

Until this week (final exams & final projects), I think I did a pretty good job with this one. I’m going to have to figure out how to fit in 4 workouts as the winter is a comin’. But no excuses: set a goal & execute.

Average a Blog Post Every 5 Days: C-

I’m just going to be real honest with myself here. I can come up with a lot of excuses, but at the end of the day, writing hasn’t been on the top of the totem pole of priorities for me this last month and a half and it will probably stay that way for the next “extended period of time”. I need to re-examine this goal as we go into the New Year and come up with specific, yet reasonable goals. This is the 6th post in 46 days, so by my count that is a post about every 7.7 days.

Average $60/day of new product posted on eBay Store: B

Again, until these last few weeks (as school has ramped up), I’ve done a pretty good job executing to my goal here, but lots of room for improvement. Over the last 90 days, I have sold over 90 items for a total of about $3,350 sales. Definitely one of the best holiday seasons that I’ve ever had and it all is based on the amount of product listed. I’ve also started my journey as an Amazon FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) seller. The reason I am so interested in FBA, is because I can continue to source my items, but then send them to Amazon warehouses and not have to worry about individually listing & packaging items. Of course, only certain items will qualify, but time is my most valuable asset right now. FBA helps to give me some of this valuable resource back. I’ll continue to provide updates as I get more into the FBA world!

Enjoy life with wife & dogs: A-

I think we have a done a pretty good job of staying relaxed and spending time as a family. My wife recently transitioned her job role and timing (use to work nights, but now works days), so we are getting use to the new routine. It’s a big change and it will take some time to get use to it.

Maintain School Work: A-

This has taken away from a lot of my other goals in the last 2-3 weeks, but my classes are pretty much winding down and there shouldn’t be any big hiccups here. The A- is for the likely A- I will get in my marketing class.

Read an Interesting Book: F

Complete Fail. I haven’t even opened an interesting book in the last month (Marketing Management doesn’t count – HA…). This goal was too vague and so I need to pick a specific goal to make this happen. By December 31, 2015 I will read Smart Couples Finish Rich by David Bach. It’s been on my list for a while now and my copy is just staring me straight in the eyes when I walk by it every evening.

My New Daily Routine Goal: D-

Another terrible grade here. If you aren’t familiar, my goal was to transition my routine from this:

  1. 7:30 AM: wake-up
  2. 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM: work
  3. 5:30 PM – later: do stuff

To this:

  1. 7:00 AM: wake-up
  2. 7:15 AM: work out / walk dogs & shower
  3. 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM: work
  4. 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM: eat & chill time
  5. 7:30 PM – 9:00 PM: school work / ebay / write
  6. 9:00 PM – 10:30 PM: wind down & in-bed by 10:30

I think my wife’s transition to early mornings will help. I have always been a night owl, but there is no denying that morning people are usually much more productive people. I’m a creature of habit, so if I can create this habitual daily improvement, I know I will improve my productivity by all accounts.

So there it is – my month 1 report card. Some ups and some downs, but if I look at things on the whole, I have to say slightly disappointing. I’ve always aimed for A’s and B’s on report cards (not a big fan of the C’s get degrees expression).

Keep your eyes out for a revamping of this update next month. Similar to how other bloggers focus on net worth growth (don’t worry – I track that too), I am working on a comprehensive list of goals to track and update monthly! Just in time for 2016.

Daymond John’s Live Talk

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of seeing Daymond John speak live. If you’ve never heard of him (do you live under a rock?!), Daymond John is the founder of the apparel line, FUBU, and an investor on the hit reality show, Shark Tank. He was a great speaker and extremely captivating. He spoke about his life up to this point and gave some insightful thoughts incorporating 5 main points into the story (naturally these points spelled out S-H-A-R-K).

S – Set a Goal

Daymond worked as a waiter at Red Lobster in his 20’s. He talked about how he learned how a business worked from this job and a bit about the art of selling. I also thought he had an interesting viewpoint about when he decided to actually pursue his own apparel line. He said he was 100% sure he could go back to being a waiter if he failed, so what did he have to lose? I thought this to be a profound statement. Do you have a great idea or the urge to run your own business? What is holding you back from making the leap? For me, the answer to that question is focus, but setting a goal is a good start.

H – Homework

If you are old enough, you might recognize the picture at the top. That is LL Cool J rapping for a 1999 Gap commercial. What you may or may not know is that LL Cool J just happens to be from the same Queens neighborhood as a Mr. Daymond Garfield John. What you also may or may not know is that LL Cool J is wearing a FUBU hat and snuck in a slick, “For Us By Us” (FUBU) lyric into this Gap commercial. The Gap marketing folks didn’t do their homework on the up & coming urban apparel market. And FUBU was handed one of the biggest, accidental marketing campaigns of all time (FO FREE!).

A – Amor

Amor is spanish for “Love”. Everything is a balance in life and this is the one that I definitely felt for Daymond because it was clear that though I’m sure he loves his family, he became extremely busy building a FUBU empire in the early 1990’s and 2000’s and probably did not devote enough time for his family. This struck me because I am always trying to think about prioritizing the problems & things going on currently in my life. It’s a personal decision, but for me, everything I ultimately do in life is for my family’s well being and security. For Daymond, it could have been too, I don’t know. Whatever your priorities, it’s important to remember them & nuture them.

R – Remember, You are the Brand

If you’ve ever seen Shark Tank, you might agree that the sharks have bought into some pretty terrible sounding ideas and they have also passed on some pretty great businesses. But as Daymond pointed out, that show is almost always about investing in people, not products. If they see something in a contestant (not sure of the correct term here – HA!), their current idea might fail, but they will continue fighting and keep coming up with great business ideas until one is successful. I think I remember Mark Cuban saying something about all it takes is “one good idea”, so it’s definitely a mindset. Which leads to tonight’s final thought…

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K – Keep Swimming

You don’t even realize things sometimes until you just stop and look around you. The week after I saw Daymond John speak live and heard him say, “Keep Swimming”, I realized I walk by this window art every week when I work out after my evening class. But it resonates with me deeply. No matter who they are or what they do, it’s what successful people do, “Just Keep Swimming”.

Why am I wasting so much time? …and what I’m doing to fix it.

10a

I’m sorry to say but the focus of this article is not some-type of bs self-help article list to help you become more productive. I’m gonna be a little selfish on this one – it’s all about me and maybe some of it applies to you, as well.

I am the king of wasting time. I’ve always been jealous of my wife because she is such a great planner and very task oriented. When she makes a list, she usually gets all, or at least almost all of the items done. I on the other hand have a long list of wasting-time methods, which include, but are not limited to:

  • wasting hours on YouTube
  • mindless researching on eBay, without a specific goal or task in mind
  • House of Cards
  • Orange Is The New Black
  • Bloodline
  • Narcos
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
  • Okay fine… every single Netflix Original Series.
  • Watching sports games of teams I don’t even care about, mindlessly, of course.
  • Fantasy football
  • Fantasy basketball
  • Fantasy baseball
  • HGTV? (why is this on the list???)
  • Checking facebook like something important actually happened.
  • Reading TOO MANY personal finance blogs
  • Reading TOO MANY posts on bogleheads (best personal finance forum on the interwebs – b t dubs … you’re welcome)

Instead I should be more focused on things like self improvement & reflection, really being in the moment with friends & family, and focusing on meaningful tasks & projects in my daily life. It’s almost embarrasing how many hours in a week I currently waste because of mindless internet surfing and the like, so it’s time to work on my time management. Reading GYFG’s post on his typical day last month really made me stop & reflect on my own current daily schedule.

I recently took a training class at work called “5 Choices to Extraordinary Productity.” Yes, it was as cheezy as it sounds. But I’m not saying it was a waste of time. One of the biggest things I got out of the class was that we all have so much stuff going on and we really need to focus on the big rocks. In other words, sometimes it’s important to ignore all the garbage and make sure you get the big shit done. Actually that makes me remember that I forgot to go to the dry cleaners tonight, so terrible example. Hopefully you get the point – planning your week is vital and making sure you finish the big, important tasks on time is obviously very important. If you forget to go to the dry cleaners tonight, maybe that’s okay that you spent some time just hanging out with the dogs & writing.

The whole planning thing is nice in practice, but it’s kind of like a new years resolution for me. I’m good about it for a few weeks, but then fall off a cliff. A deep, steep cliff. So, instead of my day looking something like this currently:

  1. 7:30 AM: wake-up
  2. 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM: work
  3. 5:30 PM – later: do stuff

My new goal is for the average day to look something like this:

  1. 7:00 AM: wake-up
  2. 7:15 AM: work out / walk dogs & shower
  3. 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM: work
  4. 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM: eat & chill time
  5. 7:30 PM – 9:00 PM: school work / ebay / write
  6. 9:00 PM – 10:30 PM: wind down & in-bed by 10:30

Probably like many others, I am a creature of habit. My habits of habitually wasting time, need to be broken. I’m writing this down to have more of a chance of holding myself accountable, and you should too.

So here are some high level goals:

  • average 4 work outs a week
  • average a blog post every 5 days
  • average $60/day of new product posted on eBay store
  • enjoy life with wife & dogs
  • maintain school work
  • read an interesting book (the whole thing, not just the cover…)

We’ll check back in a month from now to see how I’m doing. What are you doing to improve your life? If you can’t answer that question, pick at least one thing. You can handle improving one thing.

“In this world you’re either growing or you’re dying so get in motion and grow.” – Lou Holtz