Categories
Education Finances Investments self-improvement Success

2019 Goal Update

I received a call on my day off from work yesterday, asking if I would come work for a couple of hours. I wasn’t thrilled at first but then I realized that those hours worked would take me a tiny bit closer to my goal.

I worked that short shift with a smile on my face.

I’ve made quite a bit of progress on my goals for this year. To recap, my goals were:

  • Have a will drawn up.
  • Get dentures
  • Get new eyeglasses
  • Get my driving permit/license
  • Determine job/career path for my next steps
  • Continue investing
  • Continue writing
  • Continue reading and learning
  • Change the stories I tell myself
  • Establish an official Emergency Fund account
  • Establish the habit of going to bed around 10pm and waking up around 6am

I placed one of my goals, acquiring dentures, on hold. I would like to avoid having my jawbone scraped (dentists occasionally have to level the bone so that dentures will fit properly), so I’ve decided to let Nature take its course for another year before I consider getting them. I’ve still got tiny little shards of bone working out of my gums; while normal, I’ve decided to wait as a result.

I’ve done some research concerning wills. I may be able to download a basic will on the Internet, make alterations as needed, and create one without the need to hire an attorney. A friend of mine is a Notary Public so I could make it official easily enough. That would save a small fortune should I decide to go that route.

I’ve made my optometrist appointment and gotten my insurance sorted. The place didn’t realize that they accepted my vision insurance at first, despite the fact that my insurance had them listed as a provider. I’ve reserved my copay from my income tax refund so I am on track to not only acquire glasses but to take the next step in my game plan–reacquiring my drivers license. While I don’t intend to purchase another vehicle at the moment I may have to at some point in the future. I want to be prepared for that eventuality.

Since I’ve recently received a promotion at work, I’ve decided to remain where I’m at for the moment. I want to see if I can eventually attain a full-time position there instead of finding another job. Since a full-time position there is only 35 hours a week, that would still allow plenty of time to pursue my other projects, which is a large concern should I find another job.

I’m still investing, studying, and writing. I’ve read 18 books so far this year; as long as I continue my progress throughout the remainder of the year I will consider this goal as attained.

Amazingly, the majority of my progress started once I began to change the stories I told myself. I allow myself to think about how my life will be once I attain my goals each night as I fall asleep; every morning before I climb out of bed I go through a small litany of affirmations as I restate my goal. When I begin to feel frustrated and overwhelmed, I take a moment to look at myself in the mirror to tell myself that I’m okay and that I can handle anything Life throws at me.

When I can’t look into a mirror I focus on the rage that has built up inside of me from decades of people who have called me worthless and crazy. I replay the day when Henry Walters, my old A.P. US History teacher, told me that I could do anything I set my mind to once I made the decision. I replay the times when my Dad encouraged me with those same words, then I pull out the coin from my very first investment and tell myself firmly that I will do whatever it takes to become wealthy just to prove the haters wrong.

The energy burst I receive from that helps me to power through.

While I’ve yet to completely acquire the habit of going to bed at 10 pm. and waking up at 6 am., I’ve managed to shift my bedtime to 11 pm. so that I wake up around 7 am. I’ve gotten to the point where I will begin to doze off if I try to ignore my bedtime so I’ve made a bit of progress in that area.

Yesterday I finally decided to bite the bullet concerning the Emergency Fund goal. I’ve been keeping the money in my checking account; I want to shift those funds into a savings account so that I can draw a bit of interest on the money as well as keep it completely separate from my primary account. I’ve had my debit card cloned in the past so I really needed to establish a financial buffer there. I started the process to open a savings account at my local bank yesterday to accomplish that goal.

Speaking of financial buffers, I’ve decided to take my Auntie’s advice since you agreed that it was a wise decision. I plan to acquire a credit card this year to not only build my credit but to use while making my daily purchases. I’ll keep you posted as I move forward on that plan.

To my surprise, I’ve made more progress on my annual goals so far this year than I have in any other year that I can recall. I’m not sure what the difference is but I’m definitely not going to complain!

How are you doing with your goals for this year? Nosey old biddies would like to know, so please share your stories in the comments below.

Hmm…that rhymed. I kinda like that :).

Have a nice day!

Categories
Organization self-improvement Simplicity

How I Spent My Vacation

Last week I took the first paid vacation at a public job in almost two decades.

“What do you plan to do?” Curious friends wanted to know.

“Absolutely nothing,” I grinned.

I lied to everyone prior to taking those days off. I had something special planned to mark the start of my 49th year of life. While one day had been scheduled to completely rest, the remainder of the days would be filled to the brim.

I was going to sit down, think long and hard about my life, and make some adjustments to my course.

It was time to get serious. I’d proven to myself that I could actually make money in the stock market; I had seen firsthand that those who claim that only the “experts” could make money in the stock market were wrong. With a steady hand and a serene calm, I could use the lessons gained from a lifetime of poverty to grow my wealth to the point where I would never have to worry about working a public job ever again.

If I wanted to become truly free, however, I needed to make some changes. I needed to simplify my daily existence, review my annual and long-term goals, and organize my life accordingly.

It seemed delightfully appropriate to make these adjustments while on a paid vacation from public employment. I would get paid while I plotted my escape.

To prepare I set my normal reading aside to review the stack of productivity books I’ve collected over the years. I’m working more hours than ever at my public job so I need to maximize my productivity at home. This will become even more urgent should I decide to take a full-time job in the future. My book royalties are the key to my freedom; if I could figure out a way to grow my royalties, I’ll have more money available to invest towards my goal. Since it is the primary income source I possess that isn’t connected to how many hours I work in a day, I wanted to free up some more time to devote to it.

My question was this: What can I do right now that will simplify my daily life while minimizing expense and upkeep?

The answer: I needed to run my personal life more like a business.

I had become rather disorganized in my recordkeeping. As I explored minimalism, I’d stopped using files to organize my records, opting instead for a system of envelopes, folders, and notebooks that had grown exponentially more complicated as I began to track my research, investments, writing, and daily tasks. I not only had to carry a heavy daily planner to work, I used an even heavier journal to chronicle my thoughts, and I had to dig through a stack of notebooks over a foot tall in order to locate the proper one to record stock market purchases, observations, and other important information. I would spend hours pasting articles collected from the Internet into these notebooks, indexing them in yet another notebook just to keep track. Financial records were spread between a folder dedicated to my writing business, a folder and a notebook for my stock market investments, and my daily planner for personal stuff.

I could free up an immense amount of time and potentially a lot of money if I could devise one single, simple way to keep track of everything.

As my vacation approached I began to get nervous. Nothing seemed to click in any of the books that I was reading. The Internet was filled with planners and organization systems but I didn’t want to spend a fortune; I’d already spent a small fortune on my daily planners these past two years and they weren’t working. I had no desire to throw even more money away.

Two evenings before my vacation, inspiration hit as I was counting the tills and doing the closing paperwork at my public job. My trainer took that evening to show me their filing system. It brought back memories long forgotten of how, as a new single mother, I had invested a portion of my very first welfare check into a file cabinet in order to keep track of my records as I strove to improve my circumstances.

Over the next decade, that file cabinet morphed into a storage center for everything that had been important in my life.

Pictures of the kids? Filed in folders sorted by year. Tax records? Same. Inspiration had its own set of folders, sorted by my dreams. I even kept a series of folders to store my old journals and DayRunner pages. I could locate anything in moments by thumbing through my precious file cabinet, yet I had left that system behind due to years of teasing.

I am no longer the young woman who fell prey to social pressure all of those years ago. That kid has transitioned into an old crone who has learned the hard way that the advice of the people around her, however well-intentioned, is not always the best.

The first day of my vacation, I bummed a ride to Wal-Mart for supplies. Since I live in a flood zone I opted for plastic file totes. They will protect my files somewhat in the event of a flood and be easy to grab should I have to evacuate. I added some file folders to the cart, headed home, and got to work.

I spent the next three days reviewing every single piece of paper I had scattered throughout my home. I tossed the irrelevant stuff and filed the rest. To save time I simply tossed entire notebooks into file folders; as the days move on I’ll break those notebooks down to recycle the blank pages for notes and journaling paper.

I could feel the tension leaving my body as I filed things away. I hadn’t even realized that my old organizational method was causing me stress until I felt it begin to lift.

By the end of my vacation I had not only organized my files, I had devised a planning method that not only eliminates the need to carry around an expensive (and bulky) daily planner, it eliminated the need to keep a journaling notebook as well. I returned to work refreshed, recharged, and ready to handle the challenges of my 49th year of life.

It felt good.

How do you plan to spend your vacation? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Categories
Finances self-improvement

Operation: Katie

Yesterday morning I was awakened at 8am by the phone. Katie had finished the train part of her journey and wanted to call while she awaited her first bus.

She shared with me how she’d decided not to spend the money on a taxi in Chicago; she had gotten turned around and had to ask for help to reach the train station as a result.

Of all times for that child to develop my cheapskate tendencies, it just had to be while she was wandering around Chicago on a fractured leg!

Anxious about her arrival, I puttered around the house, keeping busy. I ordered Katie a pair of crutches (doctor’s orders), did laundry, cleaned on my house, and even made the stock purchase I’d planned to make this week.

I was so distracted at the thought of Katie coming home it barely registered. I didn’t realize until much later that I hadn’t even stopped to savor that tiny step taken towards my financial freedom.

My friend Kes came over in the afternoon and we spent an hour or so painting a large Welcome Home sign. Once that was completed, she went back to her house around the corner to finish preparing for the trip while I took a brief nap.

At 6pm Katie called from the bus station in Louisville, Ky. When I asked what time her bus left for Lexington she looked at her ticket and reported that the bus was scheduled to leave at 5:50pm.

I frowned, then realized that there was most likely a time zone difference between us. “Just in case, will you check and see with the clerk what time your bus leaves?” I requested.

Five minutes later she called me back. “I missed my bus,” she reported sadly. “It was pulling out just as my bus was arriving since mine was a bit late. Can you pick me up from here?”

My friend and I dropped everything and headed out.

We were 54 minutes away from the bus station when traffic on I64 came to a complete halt. An accident ahead of us had completely stopped traffic.

This mom transformed into a basket case after I called the bus station numerous times and could NOT get anyone there to pick up the phone so that I could get a message to her. I even tried to call the payphone back that she’d called me from with no success.

“My baby is alone in Louisville, stuck at a bus station with a broken leg!” I wailed numerous times. “She doesn’t have her phone, and I have no way of letting her know what’s going on! She’s scared, I know she’s scared. They may have closed the bus station for the night and kicked her out in the cold on the streets where there’s criminals and everything!”

I was more than a bit annoying during that hour or so we were stuck in traffic but my mother’s instincts were in full swing. I would have gotten out of that truck and started walking if I’d thought it would get me there any faster.

My friend’s old Ford was running on fumes by the time they cleared the traffic jam. We rushed to a gas station, topped it off (it only takes about $10 worth of gas at a time due to an issue with the fuel tank), and took off again.

We arrived at the bus station around 11:00 pm.

“Katie!” I raced into that bus station, holding the little sign I’d printed up as my friend waited in the truck. Considering the neighborhood she was afraid to leave it alone.

Katie stood up and began limping to meet me part-way. We fell into each other’s arms sobbing as I explained what had happened.

We had to do a round of “thank-yous” to the wonderful travelers who had kept my baby company while she had waited for me to arrive.

One gentleman in particular, a man who was traveling cross-country to see what he could do to help his own daughter out of a bit of trouble stands out in my mind. That poor man took time away from his own problems to comfort my Katie, enough so that she spoke with him for several moments in gratitude before we left.

I didn’t catch your name, but your face will be forever engraved in my mind. Thank you so much for looking out for my little girl.

We stopped for food and fuel at the Hurstbourne Parkway exit. We saw a Steak and Shake and pulled in.

Leo the waiter greeted us with open arms. He seated us, took our orders, and was incredibly nice and helpful.

Shortly after our food arrived I looked out the window to see patrons tugging at the door. It had been locked. Had we committed the Cardinal Sin of visiting a restaurant only minutes before close?  I sweated.

I nervously stood up and approached Leo.

“Oh honey, you’re fine!” he reassured us. “The dining room closes at midnight but I’ve still got my cleaning to do so you take your time; I can tell you’re exhausted!”

We watched him hum and sing as he did his work; his cheerfulness helped ease the stress of the evening. I made sure we left him a generous tip to thank him for his kindness along with a brief note to let him know just how much his treatment of us meant before we drove away.

If you are ever around the Steak and Shake on 2717 Hurstbourne Parkway in Louisville, KY, I highly recommend you stop in for a bite.

And please say hi to Leo for me.

We arrived home around 2:40am completely exhausted. I was asleep before my head hit the pillow!

I cannot thank my best friend enough for having my back last night, so here’s a shout-out:

You are awesome, Kes!

A Tale of Gratitude

I have no idea how much money I spent last night. To my immense gratitude, I had more than enough.

This is why I’m doing this. This is why I am busting my ass, scrimping and saving as I invest my pennies. Just a few short years ago this adventure would have ruined my finances. Just a few short years ago I would have been nervously counting every penny, praying that I had enough to make the trip.

But I don’t have to do that now.

While I can’t afford to do this often, the fact that I was able to spend freely during the chaos of last night is proof positive that I am heading in the right direction.

It is proof that living cheaply has its limits; there is absolutely no benefit to cutting your expenses unless you actually keep the money that you saved. Until you learn how to make your money work for you frugality is pointless because all you will end up doing is lingering at the bottom of the Food Chain.

Unless you learn to invest the money that you saved you will never be able to achieve true peace of mind.

I am so very thankful that I finally figured it out. I am so grateful that I decided to leave my comfort zone of poverty and start heading in the opposite direction.

And this should be a lesson to you. If an old woman with a high-school education who brings in less than $700 a month can not only manage to invest over $2,000 in under a year and build up her emergency fund to the point where she can safely afford to spend her way through a crisis, you can too.

Don’t ever let them tell you that you can’t.

Categories
Education Finances Frugality Investments self-improvement Success

The Life of a Social Outcast

This past year has taught me that it is not socially acceptable to save money. It is not socially acceptable to want to educate yourself. And it is definitely not socially acceptable to spend your time pursuing your dreams.

With the exception of my auntie and a couple of friends I’ve been forced to go underground, to hide what I’m doing and who I truly am. The criticism has become too overwhelming. It’s gotten to the point where I’m forced to tell everyone that I am constantly broke just so they’ll leave me alone.

It’s no wonder so few people actually work towards their dreams. They are surrounded by a world that’s fighting to keep them down.

I don’t dare discuss my financial goals with my friends. I don’t dare discuss how I manage to save money every month to deposit towards my dreams. I stopped daring to discuss the books I read, since they look at me as if I’ve sprouted a second head when I mention books like Price Theory, Financial Management, or Sam Walton’s biography.

Most people around me read only fiction, if they read anything at all aside from Facebook posts. I’ve been called crazy to my face more than once for being happy that I scored a business book by checking the giveaways at the library.

Why is it crazy to want to educate myself and improve my life?

“You need to get your nose out of those books and start living!”

“You need to get away. Some friends and I are taking a trip to Florida. Why don’t you come with us? It’s only $700 to split the hotel room and gas. You can afford to cut loose!”

“Come out to the bar tonight after work. I’ll pick you up!”

“Ugh! You’re going to burn out your brain reading that stuff! Why do you even bother? You need to take your money and buy a car. Hey, wanna get your nails done? It’s only $35.”

“You work too much! All work and no play is making you boring! All you need to do is find a good man to take care of you; if you’d date for a change you wouldn’t have to work so hard! Seriously, you need to get a makeover so you can attract a man! And take that damned ring off your finger. You’re available!”

I find myself missing my former co-worker, Miss K, on a daily basis. She is a high-school student who noticed my inner battle.

“You’re going to be a secret millionaire.” She gazed at me with depthless eyes one evening as we shared a break together. “I can see it. They don’t understand but I do, and I admire you. And every day I see you sharing less because they just don’t get it. One of these days you’re going to make it, but don’t tell them that. You hide what you’re doing. It will make it easier.”

God I miss that child.

Perhaps in time I’ll make a friend who is as determined to succeed as I am, who is willing to do whatever it takes to achieve their goals but until then I’ll just go it alone. I’ve got to do this, not just for me, but to prove that even the poorest of the poor can achieve financial freedom if they truly want it.

Until then I’m just going to keep my fat mouth shut.

Do you have to hide too? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Categories
Health Life Personal self-improvement Success

The Process of Recharging

Day by day, in every way, I’m getting better and better.


Émile Coué de la Châtaigneraie

I sleep in when I can. I rest instead of endlessly working. Bit by bit, I can tell a difference.

Instead of scolding the dogs for their excitement in the mornings when they wake me to go potty, I gather my coat and take them out without a word.

Instead of sighing in frustration when my co-workers page me for help at work I cry “help is on the way!” and race to the front with a laugh.

Instead of internally bitching when someone wants a few minutes of my time on the phone or in-person I give it to them. I limit it, as I’m still drained, but I’ve regained enough energy that I can safely give something back.

When I have a small spurt of energy I get up and do something that needs to be done. Last night as I visited with a friend I noticed that my dog’s collars needed washing so I pulled them off and scrubbed them while we chatted.

Five minutes later I was one task closer to catching up on my backlog.

The fridge is slowly getting emptied of the detritus the kid left behind. Her little Katie-piles are being dealt with as I stumble across them.

I’ve brainstormed one thing I can do now to improve my quality of living and I’ve taken steps to make it happen. I’ll cover that in a future post when it is more than just a plan.

I’ve even went back to tinkering on my plan to reduce my smoking. I’d started on a plan before things blew up around Thanksgiving but let it go due to the chaos that surrounded me. Now that things are calming down, I’ve gotten back to work on my goal of being a nonsmoker.

Last but not least, I’m processing my emotions with my journal. I fill several pages a day with random thoughts and feelings. Sometimes I find my thoughts repeating. I dutifully jot them down regardless. The very fact that I’m noticing the repetition is a good sign.

I suspect that my internal battery had been operating in the red zone for quite some time though life had been a bit too chaotic for me to notice it. I’ve been pushing myself quite hard for a couple of years now in order to make up for time lost back when I was injured, and even harder once I’d decided to teach myself about investing while focusing more on this website. Between that and everything else I suspect I’ve been heading for this physical and emotional crash for quite some time.

And that’s okay. It’s okay because I’m taking steps now to correct the issue, and I’m aware of the fact that I need to slow down, which makes me a wiser person.

I’ve got something I want to do. I’m not letting go of that, but I’ve realized that in order to accomplish that goal I’ve got to take care of myself now in a way that I’ve never really been able to do before.

So I am still here, and I am still fighting. I will do whatever it takes to achieve financial freedom, and I still intend to take you on that journey with me.

This is part of the process.

Are you still working towards your goals? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Categories
Finances Inspiration self-improvement Success

The Secret to Achieving the American Dream

The American Dream of improving your life, of having the ability to own your own home and change your circumstances is alive and well.

It is hidden in plain sight, crouching among the waves of advertising and manufactured needs we have been indoctrinated with; one simple sentence that so many choose to ignore:

Spend less than you earn.

You cannot afford a champagne life on a Budweiser budget. You cannot afford a new iPhone each year making minimum wage. You cannot spend money you haven’t earned yet to keep up with your neighbors.

It just doesn’t work that way.

If you want to succeed you have to live beneath your means. Find some way to make the money you save earn more money. Hustle to make even more money if you don’t have enough because it’s not the government’s job to support you if you don’t want to work.

The only one responsible for you is you.

It’s not always fun to do without when everyone around you is spending like mad. I feel that pain every single time my coworkers waltz in with their takeout for lunch and I’m sitting in the corner eating crackers.

My mouth waters, my stomach growls but I have to face the cold, hard fact of my life:

I will never be able to improve my circumstances if I spend every penny on stupid shit.

It’s not fun to walk to work in the rain and the snow and the mud. It’s not fun to pass up the opportunity to go shopping with my friends.

But you know what is fun about my life?

Paying all of my bills in one fell swoop at the first of every month. Having money to spare when those bills are done. Going home each night knowing that the lights will be on and the water will be running hot. Knowing I’ve got food in the pantry, clothes on my back, and money in the bank for when I need it.

I can sleep at night knowing that I’ve got more than enough to meet my needs. I can smile in the morning because I know that there will be money left over each payday to add to my investments. Watching those investments earn dividends that increase my income even more.

I have achieved my version of the American Dream on a minimum wage income simply by accepting my current financial limitations and living within them.

And day by day, simply by changing my mindset from survival to growth I am actively improving my circumstances. The day will come when I no longer need to work a public job in order to survive. I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again, only this time I’ll hedge my bets.

I am the daughter of an ex-con and a stripper. I barely have a high-school education. I had kids way too soon and ended up raising those kids on my own. I’ve got so many strikes against me I stopped counting but you know what? I’ve achieved what many believe to be impossible and I’m still moving forward.

If I can achieve the American Dream despite my challenges, you can do it too.

Now get to work.

Categories
self-improvement Writing

The Power of Ritual

Every single morning the very first thing I do is look at my clock. I turn on the radio, pad to the kitchen, and start the coffee as I head to the bathroom for my daily constitutional.

I tend to take my journal with me; writing while on the porcelain throne first thing in the morning allows me to flesh out whatever first thoughts my mind deems important.

After that I pour my first cup of coffee, let the dogs go potty, sit down at the computer, and write.

Such is the ritual of my morn.

This routine is empowering. I can spend the first few minutes every day mentally composing my daily blog post before I pour it into the computer. I don’t have to think. I don’t have to struggle. Regardless of the time or my level of sleepiness my mind and body know exactly what to do.

It is beautiful in its simplicity.

When I was young I scoffed at ritual. I laughed at my elders when I noticed their habits. I believed that flexibility was the key to an active, happy life.

I was wrong.

It is the little rituals we embrace that ground us. They center us, channeling our focus so that we can meet life head-on. When we prepare our mind with a moment of peace we allow it to recharge. We allow it to relax for a time as we move through our day.

What rituals have you embraced? Please share your stories in the comments below.


Categories
self-improvement Success

Test Your Limits

Four hours of sleep is not enough.

I’ve been experimenting with my sleep schedule lately. Since successful people tend to wake up earlier, I want to alter my personal habits in order to become more like them. Today I set the intention to wake up at 4 am since I have to be at work by 9 am. I feel better about my day when I get my daily writing done before I head off to my public job.

I didn’t make it to bed until it was approaching midnight.

I managed to wake up at 4 am. I’m quite proud of myself at that achievement. However, I didn’t actually get out of bed until my alarm went off at 5 am.

I was just too tired to move.

I can achieve what I wanted to achieve this morning with a 5 am wake-up. My day won’t be negatively affected. And now I know that I have hit a physical limit.

In order to be as functional as I want to be I am going to have to train myself to go to bed earlier. I need 6-8 hours of sleep in order to achieve optimum functionality.

We ALL Need to Learn Our Limits

It is impossible to achieve goals that are beyond what we are capable of achieving. For instance, I would be setting myself up for failure if I set the goal of becoming a basketball star. At 4’10” tall, equipped with boobs so big that they feel like they’re going to rip off of my chest every time I run, that is not a goal that I can reasonably achieve.

If you have health issues that force you to rest intermittently throughout the day, you won’t be physically able to handle a high-energy factory job that requires a 10-hour shift. If you have one leg (like my father did), you have to select positions and goals that don’t require you to be on your feet all day.

You have to know these limits. They are the difference between success and failure. You can only do what you can physically do; trying to push yourself beyond on a daily basis is a recipe for disaster.

It doesn’t hurt to test these limits, however. Sometimes you will surprise yourself.

As a result of my tests I now know that I have another limit attached to the amount of sleep I need for optimal function. I will add it to the time limits imposed by my day job (I’ve got to work in order to pay the bills) and the financial limits imposed by my current income as I figure out the best way to achieve my long-term goal of financial freedom.

What limits do you have? Have you tested them? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Categories
Happiness self-improvement

Breathe

I had a small panic attack this morning.

It happened as I sat down to plan my day. My mind wandered to all of the things I want to accomplish this year when it suddenly became difficult to breathe. Every inch of my body tensed up as I tried to force air into my lungs.

I stopped, set my pencil aside, and forced myself to take a slow, deep breath.

In

Bit by bit I focused on the air entering my lungs. Focused on my diaphragm expanding, my chest growing.

Out…

I began to count mentally as I felt the air glide through my nostrils. Concentrated on emptying my body.

All is well. Just breathe.

When my thoughts wandered, I brought them back to my breath. Time wasn’t important. Goals weren’t important. The only thing that mattered was the life-giving oxygen coursing through my lungs.

My body slowly relaxed.

As I felt the tension slip away I reminded myself that all is well. I am safe. I am healthy. I have more than enough to meet my needs, so much more that I am even able to save and work towards a better future.

Life is truly good.

We all have moments when Life seems overwhelming. Moments when we panic, when we feel that we are incapable of handling the tasks we’ve set for ourselves. Slices of time when our chest gets tight and we quail in terror at our now and our future.

That’s okay.

It’s perfectly normal to feel fear. Fear is what tells us that we’re alive. It’s how we handle our fear that defines us.

Every day above ground is a good day. Regardless of what we currently face, we can rest secure in the knowledge that we are still here. We are still alive. As long as we have life, we have hope.

All we have to do is breathe.

Categories
Organization Productivity self-improvement

The Habit Chain

It takes time to form a habit. Positive habits are definitely worth the effort to build. They can slowly transform our life from the mediocre into an absolutely astounding existence.

When remaking your life it is best to start small. Analyze the things you want to change about yourself and select just one to focus on. This is how Benjamin Franklin did it. He would chronicle his success and failures in a journal for a time before switching his focus onto another habit, in a continual self-improvement program.

This year I have three habits I want to create. I want to read a little bit every single day, I want to write a single blog post, and I want to scoop the litterbox.

I added the last one because I didn’t want all of my habits to just be about me. One must curate a pleasant environment in order to be at their happiest, and I really dislike the results of skipping a day when it comes to scooping that litterbox. My litterbox may be large but I prefer it to be as clean as I can keep it.

In order to get a running start I began my project late last year. I would write those three items down on the daily pages of my planner each morning, checking them off as I completed them. I soon realized that I was spending time re-writing those three things that could be better utilized elsewhere so I began brainstorming a solution.

I recalled reading somewhere about a comedian who would place an X on an annual calendar every single day after he wrote one joke. His goal was to keep the chain going.

I decided to try it. I placed an X over the day after completing every blog post and circled the date when I completed my daily reading. I experimented with placing another mark over the date for the litterbox scooping but when I decided that it made things confusing I printed out a copy of my annual page and stuck it in my Book of Lists to mark off there.

That comedian was right. It is incredibly motivational to have a chain of marks that you want to keep going. I’ve found myself completing my unfinished tasks near midnight just to keep the chain intact.

If you have a habit you wish to acquire I urge you to try it. Use this link to print out an annual calendar and start crossing out the days as you complete the task. It really does help.

Categories
self-improvement

The Art of Talking To Yourself

People who talk to themselves are usually lumped with the insane. It feels awkward to stumble across someone having a conversation with themselves.

But did you know that self-talk, when done properly, can actually carry a positive benefit?

In his book The Magic of Believing, Claude Bristol discussed this occurrence. He witnessed an inebriated man stare into a mirror and give himself a firm talking to before a speech; that man not only delivered his speech successfully but acted sober for the rest of the night.

That incident gained Bristol’s attention. He went on to experiment with the phenomena, sharing multiple positive results in his book.

As a woman who talks to herself on a daily basis, repeating reminders to aid memory or just verbally working through a task as I complete it I found the information fascinating. Could I use self-talk as a tool to improve my life even more?

I decided to find out.

My first step was to start paying attention to the stories I was already telling myself. To my dismay I discovered myself repeating a single phrase:

I am tired.

During 2018 I’d noticed an overwhelming exhaustion; I’d changed my diet, began to take vitamins, and even had a massive amount of dental work completed out of concern for my health due to this issue. While I had regained a considerable amount of energy due to the changes I’d made, I still suffered from a tiredness that I could not eliminate. Could that tiredness be the result of repeating a single phrase?

I decided to find out.

Every time I caught myself repeating the phrase I started to catch myself. I would tell myself that it was untrue; I had energy to spare for that tasks I wanted to accomplish. I began to remind myself that I am in the prime of my life as I would recall memories of all of the times I’ve worked circles around the young pups I’ve been paired with at work over the years.

To my surprise, things began to change.

I found myself humming in contentment as I tidied the shelves at work. I noticed my home getting cleaner as I puttered more. I checked off more and more tasks from my daily lists with each passing day.

Even more amazing, just a few simple words before I fall asleep at night now have me awakening before the alarm clock buzzes.

I highly recommend that you try it. Listen to the words you are telling yourself as you go through your day. When you catch yourself repeating negative phrases, change them into something positive.

You can amplify the effect of this phenomenon. Look into a mirror, focusing upon your eyes as you tell yourself a new story. Tell yourself that you are beautiful. Remind yourself that you are energetic. You are so much smarter than the average bear; you have the skills and the ability to do whatever it is you want to accomplish that day.

Then when you go to bed at night, just before you nod off, tell yourself that you are going to sleep soundly and wake up refreshed before the alarm clock begins to blare.

Change the stories that you tell yourself. Then watch your new story unfold.

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Categories
Life self-improvement Success

Carpe Annum

This is it. The dawn of an entirely new year.

I couldn’t wait to greet it. I woke up, made my coffee, and journaled as I watched the sun rise.

I changed so much in 2018. I started out the year without a single serious idea of what I wanted to do with my life. Aside from my work schedule, I didn’t even keep track of my days and I published only a single post a week on this website.

But look at me now! I came through the doldrums. I figured out what I wanted from my life. I set a new goal of financial freedom and I actively started working towards it. Starting at absolute zero, with no experience whatsoever, I managed to invest a total of $2,153.20 in stocks and precious metals.

Wow.

I did that. I did that on a part-time minimum wage income, not even bringing in $700 a month between my public job and my writing.

I accomplished more since my birthday on April 5, 2018 than I have since I can remember.

And I did it with less money coming in each month than many people earn in a week.

You look at that. You look at that long and hard. And you pay attention.

If I can invest over two thousand dollars in a year making as little as I do, knowing as little as I know then guess what?

You have no excuse.

You have absolutely no excuse for being broke. You have absolutely no excuse for living paycheck to paycheck. If I can accomplish this much making so much less than you, there is absolutely no reason why you can’t manage to save money and invest towards your future as well.

So stop your whining. Stop saying that it can’t be done. Stop with the bullshit, get off your ass, and get to work.

Cut your expenses. Do your research. And start investing towards a better future now.

Read a book. Create a habit. Start a business. Open a savings account. Invest. Do something, even if it’s wrong! Just get started. You can work out the details as you go along.

You will never change your life unless you actually do something to make it happen. So start doing it.

This is a brand-new year. This is your fresh start, your chance to transform your life into something magical.

Don’t pass it up.

Categories
Organization Productivity self-improvement

Preparing for the New Year

Twenty-eighteen has been an incredibly eventful year. I’ve come to terms with the fact that the previous stage of my life is ending and determined a new direction for my life.

I may not know yet how I’ll get to there from here. That’s okay. All I have to do is continue to move forward with my end goal in mind; the rest will fall into place in time.

The primary way that I maintain my focus on a daily basis is through my planner/diary. The book allots one page per day to keep track of schedules, tasks, notes, and highlights. This not only allows me to keep track of the things that I want/need to do but to look back and remind myself of what I’ve already accomplished.

One major change I have made in this habit over the past year was to finally settle on the At-A-Glance Diary instead of just using the computer or a cheap composition notebook as I have in the past. My plans are extremely important to me, I can afford the expense, and I’ve realized that it’s high time that I break myself of the habit of going cheap on everything. It is time I began to utilize the Diderot Effect for a positive purpose.

I’ve fallen into the habit of using a modified version of the Bullet Journal method of notation to log my entries. This allows me to jot down things as I think of them in a format that is easy to review. My primary changes are using a “$” signifier for financial information, an exclamation point (!) for important items (as opposed to an asterisk), a lower-case “i” to note informative/inspirational notes, the letter “w” for my writing, and the letter “s” for self-improvement items.

As I’ve prepared for what 2019 will bring I’ve transferred recurring events to my new planner and dedicated an empty page in the back for both my annual and long-term goals.

They are as follows:

Long-Term Goals:

  • Multiple streams of passive income. More than enough to live on comfortably.
  • Own my own home.
  • Long, healthy, active life.

I made a note after this set of goals to remind myself that I’m just hitting my groove. I’ve got 50 years of life left at a minimum with modern medical technology so it isn’t going to hurt one bit to utilize 20 of those years to attain my goal of financial independence.

2019 Goals:

With my long-term goals in mind, I sat down to figure out just what I wanted to accomplish next year.

  • Have a will created. I need to get in the habit of keeping one of these. Wealthy people understand the importance of these; since I intend to become wealthy I need to adopt this practice.
  • Acquire dentures. I want a set of partials to correct my smile as I move forward. This will not only improve my ability to eat, it will also give me an advantage as I strive to increase my income.
  • Acquire new eyeglasses. These will aid immensely as I study and continue to write.
  • Re-acquire driving permit/license. This will be necessary if I decide to invest in real estate or enter a field that requires me to drive.
  • Continue investing. I must keep moving forward, doing what I can do with what I currently have, if I want to accomplish my long-term goals so I cannot allow this to fall to the wayside.
  • Determine if a career change is necessary. This concerns my public job. I know I will have to keep a public job for the next few years at the least so I need to decide if I want to continue life as a cashier or take steps to shift into a different profession. This does not concern my writing and investing whatsoever–just what I do to pay the bills and earn extra money to invest towards my future.
  • Continue reading/studying. I’ve got a lot of educational ground to cover as I change my mindset and work out the best way to achieve my goal. This will be a priority to me.
  • Continue writing. I want to share my journey with others in order to provide hope and prove that one can accomplish anything they set their mind to. It will also serve as a form of personal clarification and therapy. I also want to brainstorm and write a new book before the end of 2019.
  • Change the stories that I tell myself. Life is 99% of the stories we tell ourselves. I’ve realized that I need to change a few of my personal stories. I’ll discuss this in a later post.

Now that I know where I’m going it will simply be a matter of keeping on track. To close out the year (and eliminate the stress of drama) I worked out what I could personally do about a private situation, took a deep breath, and got it over with. Now that I know I have done all I can personally do I am free to let that issue go and continue with my plans to move forward.

I refuse to allow anyone’s actions to derail my plans for my future.

Taking Care of My Now

I’ve done all I can do to prepare for next year so it is time to focus on my now. I made another small investment in the stock market to celebrate, I’m composing a list of things I want to tidy and sort around the house (I’ve let things slide due to stress), and I’ve resolved to have this blog back on track with the coming year.

Starting in January I will resume posting three days a week come hell or high water. I refuse to allow myself to slack but I do need to reduce my current workload for a bit as I mentally prepare for next year since I want to hit the ground running.

***

What goals have you set for the coming year? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Categories
Future Me self-improvement

Playing Pretend

Ever since my successful experiment I’ve been playing a game with myself. At random times as I go through my day I ask myself “what would Future Me do?”

The results have been fascinating.

Future Me has slightly different tastes than I do. I have found myself selecting different outfits for work and digging through my small stash of costume jewelry to mix things up a bit. Some of the items were discarded as Future Me curled up her nose at their condition. She’s a bit picky, it seems.

She doesn’t seem to talk as much either. Two of my coworkers have asked me why I’ve been so quiet lately. I hadn’t even realized that my behavior had changed so much until they mentioned it. I was simply moving through the store, pretending to be her as I dutifully tidied the shelves.

I’ve also seriously reduced the time I spend online. I didn’t even aim for that; I simply asked myself what Future Me would do one evening and allowed things to progress from there. Now I check my email, visit a couple of news sites, and move on with my life. I wasn’t expecting that.

I’ve done a bit more journaling over these past few days but that might just be due to the fact that I’m reveling in the new journal I treated myself to. I feel seriously wealthy when I place my thoughts upon the pages.

One of the most fascinating discoveries is the fact that I smoke less. Future Me is a nonsmoker; she tends to point out that she cares for her body and doesn’t want to mistreat it. She also reminds me that I didn’t start smoking until after I moved here so the habit isn’t that old. While I haven’t stopped smoking completely, it gives me enough pause that I find myself occasionally passing up the opportunity to smoke now.

I’m starting to wonder if this game will provide a way to completely cease the habit.

I believe that I am going to continue this game. It’s rather amusing to step aside and allow the person I envision myself in the future to take charge. Even better, this game of pretend is making me think and change some of my behaviors.

I will keep you updated on my progress.


Have you ever pretended to be your future self? What happened? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Categories
Future Me self-improvement

What Would Future Me Do?

Yesterday as I began getting ready for work I noticed that several dishes had piled up in the sink. It wasn’t horrible but it was enough to make me sigh. I’d have something else to do once I returned home late that night.

Something caused me to pause: What would future me do in that situation? I asked myself.

Future me glanced at her watch. She’d started getting ready a few minutes early. If she hustled, she could knock out the dishes and still leave for work in time.

I grinned and got started. Once the dishes were done I realized that the trash needed to be taken out as well. Future me would definitely want that out of the way.

But I paused. I always run a scoop through the litterbox before I take out the trash; did I have time for all of that? I glanced at my watch again. The time was fast approaching for me to leave but if I hurried I might be able to get it done.

I double-timed the scooping, changed the trash bag, and carted it outside as I waited for the dogs to do their business. To my surprise, they apparently sensed my energy because they hurriedly did their thing.

I not only managed to complete some tasks that needed doing, I managed to scoot out the door in plenty of time to walk to work.

I might be on to something here. Normal me would have let it slide until I returned home from work — or procrastinated until my next day off, which is a common occurrence if I’m tired. By considering the issue from the eyes of the person I wish to become, however, the paradigm shifted. As a result of that shift, I accomplished more than I expected.

I will definitely have to experiment.


Have you ever looked at a situation from the eyes of the person you wish to become? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Categories
Law of Attraction self-improvement

An Experiment in Luxury

It is amazing how quickly things can work out when you create an intention. Shortly after challenging myself to reverse the Diderot Effect in my personal life a friend came over to visit. Her granddaughter was moving in with her; did I happen to have any old children’s movies that I would consider selling on the cheap?

I pulled out my binders to examine my DVD collection. My Katie had been quite fond of Barbie movies and the like; I had built up quite the collection over her childhood. She selected several of them along with an assortment of other movies that she thought she would enjoy personally and we sat down to negotiate.

She left with a tidy stack of movies fifty dollars later.

I was fifty dollars richer; what should I do with the money? I thought about investing it but then remembered my challenge. I’d just written about how I would like to find some way to treat myself that wouldn’t hurt my budget; in a stroke of sheer luck, I now had fifty dollars that hadn’t been accounted for.

What could I buy for fifty dollars that I would never allow myself to normally purchase? Was there something that I wanted that wasn’t functionally necessary but that I dreamed of owning just the same?

I drew a blank. I’d become so conditioned to living cheap that I could not think of a single thing so I took the question to my daughter.

“What about that guestbook you’ve been admiring at Biancke’s for years?” she suggested. “Every time we go in there you flip through the pages and drool over it; I can’t count how many times I’ve heard you say that it would make the perfect journal.”

An image of the book immediately popped in my head. A large, well-bound book, it features numbered, lined pages that I had admired for decades. The restaurant had encouraged guests to sign in on every visit since I was a teenager and they had used the exact same style for as long as I could remember.

I had even asked where they bought their replacements once. I’d priced it and immediately choked at the cost.

It was far too much to spend on the luxury of journaling.

But now? Now I wanted something completely decadent. I wanted to allow myself a luxury so outrageous that it bordered on ridiculous.

And I wanted to do it on a fifty dollar budget.

Convinced that I’d never be able to afford it, I allowed the kid to persuade me to walk down to the restaurant for a closer examination. I was certain that it was out of my league but what would it hurt to look? If anything, I would find that book above my station and treat myself to a Moleskine.

I’ve never allowed myself to indulge in a Moleskine.

We braved the curious looks from the workers as we examined the heavy tome. Armed with the brand and model, we headed home to price one.

Ouch! Just as I anticipated, the book was almost $100.

“Maybe I should buy a cheap washer instead,” I suggested as I went to close out the tab.

“You’re always doing that!” Katie snapped. “You’ve wanted that thing for years–don’t tell me you haven’t! Buy something nice for yourself for a change! You’ve bitched about how thin the paper was in composition notebooks for ages. You’ve bitched about how you dislike journaling on the computer and now you’ve got fifty bucks that you can use to fix the problem. Let’s see what we can find!”

She shoved me out of the chair and hijacked the computer. Flipping over to the purchasing options, she discovered that Amazon had some for sale minus their original packaging.

The price was $53 after tax.

I allowed myself to buy that book. I can’t believe I did it, to be honest. I allowed myself to purchase something completely decadent and amazingly expensive, simply because I wanted it.

But oh my, it is absolutely beautiful.

It is beautiful. It is decadent. It is a completely selfish luxury. It is 512 pages of journaling bliss and I can’t believe the fact that it is actually mine.

It is the first real extravagance I’ve allowed myself for longer than I can remember.

I’ll have to conserve the pages. It cost too much to treat it lightly but in exchange, every time I use it I will be reminded of the fact that it’s okay to have nice things if you can afford them. It’s okay to treat myself on occasion.

It’s okay to want to improve my life.


Have you ever treated yourself to a completely ridiculous luxury? Please share your stories in the comments below. I need to christen this journal before I lose my nerve and send it back.

Categories
self-improvement

The Art of Focusing on Who You Want to Be

The simple act of saying “stop” has benefited me immensely. For the first time in months, I felt an internal peace that speaks volumes in the silence. The frantic chatter in my mind has ceased now that I have given myself permission to just wait.

As I mulled over the changes in myself over the years the shock slowly eased. I see no point in criticizing the decisions I made in the past. I simply need to accept them, adjust my course, and move on.

The force of habit caused my mind to turn to my goal of financial independence. I’ve had goals for so long that it is hard to let them go. Just the simple goal of survival has been so much a part of me over these past decades that I feel a bit lost now that I’ve pressed pause, and that’s okay. There is a danger in moving too soon. I know that now but I am also aware of the fact that I need something to focus on in the meantime while I sort my emotions.

But what?

One by one the ideas came. One by one I dismissed them. Each and every idea was a plan, a goal–and goals are something I need to avoid for the time being.

It was only when I reached the point when I had to order myself to stop thinking about it that I finally worked things out. Instead of focusing on what I can do, why not focus on who I want to be?

No plans, no goals, no grand schemes. No major changes. Just close my eyes, envision who I want to become in the future, and start making tiny steps in that direction.


Have you ever allowed yourself to focus on the person you want to become? Please share your stories in the comments below.