Insert Yourself into the Lineup
One of the favorite jobs I ever had was working Front-Desk at Gold’s Gym. I grew up playing soccer and basketball, and during my freshman year of college I became fascinated with weight lifting. Now that I was in college full time and no longer playing competitively, the gym became my outlet to keep in shape. I didn’t hold a regular job during my first 2 years in college, but that changed in my junior year when I got a consistent part time job at Gold’s Gym.
Yes, the gym can smell at times (mostly all the time). You will see your fair share of “juice heads” there, and you will constantly wonder why they have their other juice head buddies take close-up pictures of them while doing bicep curls. Most memorably though, you will see a mass migration into the gym every January.
There is the famous New Year’s resolution people make of wanting to get in shape and committing to lose a few pounds. It all goes well for a couple weeks (maybe even a full month), but then the inevitable happens. Come February, you see about a 10-15% decline in the amount of people you used to see in January. It never comes as surprise, and the reason is obvious.
Once that ball drops and the New Year officially begins, we get euphoric and have an extreme desire to improve our lives STARTING NOW. The mentality of STARTING NOW happens year after year after year. The problem with this mentality is this…
We always want our outcomes to change, while never changing our habits.
The reason it never surprised me to see the drop off in gym members between January and February is because I understood that most people set an outcome oriented goal instead of an action oriented goal. The problem with this is that typically good outcomes don’t come fast, and they take A LOT of work to get there. For the person who solely focuses on an outcome, it is very easy to give up on that goal when they don’t see quick improvement.
How do we change that mentality? The first step is listing the outcomes we want to achieve. The second (and more important) step is setting a simple action that will aid in eventually achieving that outcome.
My fiancée and I have been bad at setting action goals in the past. We have always said we wanted to save more money, eat better, lose weight, treat each other better. Like everyone else though, normally these goals don’t really get completed. Not only do they not get completed, but because they’re outcome oriented goals and not action oriented goals, there is no way to really track our progress for those goals.
I have set my goals for 2018. I have broken them down into categories such as finance, health, wisdom, and relationship. I have also given actionable tasks for each category, so that I develop effective habits moving forward. Here they are:
#1 – Max out my Roth 401(k) and both of our Roth IRA’s
The outcome oriented goal that people normally set with this is that they want to “Save more.”
This could not have been possible last year when we still had debt. When we became debt free it opened our paychecks to be able to invest more into our investment (retirement) accounts. We set the main goal last year that we wanted to achieve financial freedom, so that eventually we can do whatever we want, how we want, and where we want. So naturally that meant we had to SAVE MORE AND SPEND LESS. I know that scares a lot of people off, especially people around my age (25). It almost seems like overnight there was a standard passed that if a millennial didn’t Brunch every weekend, then they just weren’t living!
Amber and I obviously need to save more money in 2018 to achieve financial freedom, but that starts with fully contributing to our 3 retirement accounts. The IRS recently increased the amount you can contribute to your employer sponsored retirement plan from $18,000 to $18,500. We will be taking full advantage of that!
The outcome goal is to save more…We are turning this into an action by forcing ourselves to fully fund our investment accounts. The action of funding our retirement accounts will compound overtime, eventually helping us get to our outcome oriented goal (financial freedom).
#2 – Eat 1 piece of fruit every morning
The outcome oriented goal that people normally set with this is that they want to “Be healthier.”
Back to my gym/heath nuts…It’s funny, when I went to the gym yesterday (New Year’s Day) I noticed that the place was PACKED! It reminded me of the same New Year’s resolution movement that I have become so accustomed to. I have a feeling that some of these new faces will began to slowly cancel their memberships one by one when see that they didn’t lose 20 pounds in a week. I hope I’m wrong, but I have a feeling I’m not.
You know one of the first ways to getting “healthy” is? Simply putting the right food in your body every morning. Every bad workout/work day I have had, typically comes on days where my diet was poor that morning. By simply skipping breakfast or eating junk in the morning, you are already putting your body behind. So how am I fixing that?
Simple. I have committed to eating 1 piece of fruit every morning this year. I am not only doing this for my workouts, but I am also doing this so that I have more energy during the day. I have a good feeling that those normal drags I have in the morning at work will slowly begin to fade away throughout the year!
#3 – Run 8 miles/week
I have come to the humble conclusion in the last year that my body doesn’t work 100% like it did when I was 18 – 21. At 25 years of age (although not really old) my body’s metabolism isn’t as fast as it used to be. I used to be able to eat a Chipotle burrito for every meal of the day, and I would not gain a single pound. Oh have times changed…Amber can even tell the days where I didn’t run. My body just simply takes more time to break down the food I put in to it, and it definitely shows in my stomach!
I have always been a pretty consistent runner, but as my schedule has tightened with age, gym time sometimes gets squeezed out. This will not be the case in 2018. By holding myself accountable to the 8 miles/week running routine, I will provide a benefit to my overall physical health. A side effect of this that I have noticed in the past is that I typically have A LOT more energy throughout the day when I was on a consistent running routine. I was able to wake up at my typical 4:30am alarm and be ready to go, had the energy to read on the train to work, and also had the energy to still go workout after work.
No more squeezing out gym time this year. I am hoping my body returns the favor over the course of the long-term in 2018!
#4 – Read at least 30 minutes a day
The outcome oriented goal that people normally set with this is that they want to “Become wiser.”
There is a phrase that I have come to love and respect by Lou Holtz. “In this world you’re either growing or you’re dying so get in motion and grow.”
I am not going to lie, at first, I thought this line was a little too aggressive. I saw successful people all around me who were succeeding and thriving in their environment, and I wasn’t seeing them go out of their way to “grow.” Then I started to become more aware of the successful people around me. I noticed 2 specific patterns that they were doing that others weren’t:
- They always had a new book on their desk every couple of weeks
- They were routinely doing new schooling, certifications, or trainings
I then understood what Lou Holtz was talking about…It is simple in this world. Those who become the most successful in our culture are CONSTANTLY improving themselves. Whether it’s reading a new book or enrolling in a new class, they are obsessed with growing their intellect. After all, Warren Buffet claims 80% of his day is dedicated towards reading!
In the last year, I took this quote and applied it to myself. I began reading 1 new personal finance book every month. I noticed that our Net Worth was increasing at a dramatic rate. I wasn’t noticing monumental gains in the moment, but something was happening over the course of a full year. With each book I read, I was slowly becoming more informed on how to budget more effectively, spend wisely, and was transitioning our money into investments that were more tax efficient.
Let’s be honest…We all know some people out there that just float a long and seem to luck into all their outcomes. They seem to have progressed faster than us. They knew the right connection, kissed up to the right person, or just simply got the lucky break that you didn’t. But Warren Buffet has another great line. “Only when the tide goes out do you discover who has been skinny dipping.” Now this line is more about investing, but the principle is still the same. Anybody can be lucky a few times. That luck will run out over the long-term when times get tough. Those with consistent principles that were molded by consistent learning will always come out ahead over the long-term.
Don’t stand on the sidelines and think that your current talent level will be enough to continue advancing in your life. As we get to a higher level in each aspect of our lives, more is required to succeed at that new level. If you aren’t attempting to get better, TRUST ME ON THIS…Your competition is improving themselves daily and constantly looking at new ways to stand out over you.
This is simple for me. I have seen the financial value of reading, so I will take Buffet’s advice and stick to it every day!
#5 – Technology OFF after 9:00pm
The outcome oriented goal that people normally set with this is that they want to “Treat their partner better.”
This one is going to be the toughest BY FAR. Let’s be honest, the majority of all of our downtime is spent scrolling through our social media feeds. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat. You name it, we have them all at our fingertips! This easy access has the potential to disrupt our current relationships that we have with our closest friends and family.
I am guilty as charged with checking my phone to much when I am with Amber. Especially after creating Frugal Money Man, it seems like I live on my phone now! I constantly have to monitor my content, guest comments, email subscribers, and direct email messages. This has strained our relationship at times, and we have definitely gone to bed some nights mad at each other. As anyone who sleeps in the same bed with a significant other every night can confirm, you just don’t wake up the same way when you went to bed in a bad mood with your significant other.
This is going to change by me shutting down all technology at 9:00pm. We are big time Netflix fans. We are going to use this extra little time before bed (I am old and go to bed at 10:00pm most nights) to relax, watch our shows, and make sure we always go to bed in a good mood.
Although I believe this will be the toughest habit moving forward, I do expect it to show the most immediate results!
Wrap it up Frugal Money Man!!!
Looking back on it, I think this was my longest post yet! I am sorry if it dragged on for too long in certain areas. I also understand you are reading this blog to learn all about retirement, investing, and becoming financially secure. I promise those posts are COMING SOON!
Before anyone can achieve financial freedom, you first must change your behaviors. One of my favorite personal finance speakers is Dave Ramsey who constantly says, “Personal Finance is 80% behavior and 20% head knowledge.”
In sum, as you look at your goals for 2018, please keep in mind:
- DO NOT set outcome oriented goals…If you do, there is a good chance you will be setting the same goals in 2019
- Turn your outcome goals into behavioral habits that will compound over time and eventually lead to your outcome oriented goals
- Don’t sit on the sidelines in 2018. Get off the bench and take this year more seriously than you have any other year. Make sure that when that ball drops 1 year from now, you can confidently say you are an improved person from last year.
Happy New Year!!!