Changing habits, changing lives . . .
That has a nice ring to it.
When I think of the habits I want to change in my life, my first impression is that it is all about making a conscious decision to do things differently.
Sometimes it is about not “doing” anything at all.
One habit that will be mighty difficult to change, is the habit of busy-ness. I think I have written about this a while back, but it continues to be a struggle. I need to create more time in my daily routine to do “nothing.”
I like the words of Christopher Foster, in a post on zenhabits, who wrote . . .
“Silence,” says an ancient Native Indian tradition “is the cornerstone of true character.” We live in a culture that is very oriented to doing and achieving. Nothing wrong with that, of course. But if we want to deepen our connection with our own being, with our own true character, we must take some time every now and again to simply be still.
“Be still, and know that I am God,” said the Psalmist, and the words are the compass of my life.
The interesting thing is that sometimes, a few moments consciously “not doing” can actually increase our creativity and productivity no end. It can also help us in connecting more deeply with our own inner wisdom. History is full of tales of famous people who had their “breakthrough” moments when, strangely enough, they weren’t doing anything. In fact they may have given up on their project altogether.
So, about this habit thing . . .
The more I think about it, the more excited I get about creating new and better habits in my life.
In short, I have one life to live, so got to make it the best it can be.
I know that might sound a little stale, but let me explain.
I have to take you back to a time in my life, 1992 to be exact, when I got a phone call from a friend of mine. Bob headed up an organization called Providence Hospice of Seattle, and asked me if I would consider serving on its community advisory board.
This was also a time in my life when I was pretty bored with my career as a stockbroker for Smith Barney in Seattle. I had a good thing going, selling municipal bonds to clients from all across the nation, but a little voice inside was poking me with a question, “Do you really want to spend your whole life selling bonds? Is that all you were cut out to do?”
I accepted Bob’s invitation, and as an introduction to serving on the board, I started tagging along with Providence care-givers, as they tended to clients who were embracing the last final act of living; that of dying.
Meeting these people who were in the process of dying, holding their hand, listening to their stories, got me to thinking about my own life, and that, although it seemed like a hundred years away, someday I would be taking my last breath as well.
The more I connected with these folks that were dying, the more I realized I wanted to ratchet up my own life, and it was this experience that nudged me to quit my job at Smith Barney, and get on with my life!
I have that same feeling I had back in 1992, of wanting to push forward with my life in new and unknown ways. It won’t be easy. I am going to have to change some habits in the process of reinventing myself, one habit at a time.
The tagline of The Coffeehouse Investor ends with “And Get On With Your Life,” and that’s what I want to write about today.
One of the reasons so many investors across the nation have connected with our investment philosophy is because they want to “Get On With Their Lives,” as well.
Let’s face it, most investors have better things to do with their time than keeping track of whether or not a fundamental-based small cap index fund is better than a cap-weighted index fund.
And if we are really honest with ourselves, that decision should be about #312 on the list of things that are important in your life, and whether or not you reach your financial goals.
For me, right now, getting on with my life means continuing to change some daily habits. For instance, over the past three months, I have created a new habit of posting a blog on this web site (almost) every day. You know what? It is kind of exhilarating to look back and know that I can make a positive change in the way I go about living my every day.
It is so critically essential that investors understand The Coffeehouse Investor principles. If I am to reach my goal of introducing our philosophy to everyone in the nation who has accepted the responsibility of saving for retirement, I am going to have to improve the way I get on with my life by continuing to initiate good habits in my life.
The next habit I want to initiate is to consciously schedule “free time” to relax and play, read, or spend time on hobbies. All too often these things happen only after I have gotten all my work done during the day. Instead, I need to consciously create time to make them happen, and realize that playing, reading and relaxing are just as important as being “productive” in reaching my goals.
Are there any habits – big or small – you would like to change as you get on with your life? What works, or doesn’t work for you?
There are a lot of things I want to accomplish in my life.
I want to spend more time connecting with our clients at Soundmark Wealth Management.
I want to continue growing our business. I have found that businesses move in one of two directions, forward or backward, so you know which way we are headed!
I want to spend more time with my family.
I want to finish writing my second book.
I want to play more golf.
Climb another mountain.
I want to read more.
Basically I want to do twice as much in half the time.
That means I am going to have to be super-organized and productive. I am looking forward to the challenge.
I want to share a little more of this journey with you, because I suspect you have the same issues I do, trying to fit more into your day without feeling more hurried. It can be done.
Whether it is a college endowment fund or you, a little financial planning is in order.
It helps to use some common sense when putting together your financial plan.
This seemed to be lacking when college administrators were planning for the future, like, “Does my spending level match a realistic rate of return my portfolio is likely to generate in the future?”
First you should establish a reasonable burn rate for yourself using a realistic rate of return on your portfolio that shows a high degree of confidence you won’t run out of money before you die.
The next step is to monitor your burn rate on a fairly regular basis (at least annually), to make sure that your expenses haven’t crept up to a point of unsustainability.
This is especially important during times of abundance, as college administrators found out, when, bolstered by super-sized portfolio returns, they let their burn rate increase accordingly. When real estate, stock, and commodity markets reverted to the mean, they had to deal with the “burn rate blues;” making painful decisions of reducing, if not eliminating new spending and capital projects.
Don’t let this happen to you.
Whether you project your burn rate at $5000, $10,000, or $15,000 a month during retirement, it is essential that you adhere to that spending level, especially during times of abundance, when it is so easy to let your emotions and your spending get the best of you.