We are 30 weeks into this 52 week series, which seemed like an opportune time to pause for a mid-game review. How are things going? What have I learned in this first 30 weeks of optimizing with a zero sum approach? I’ve combed through everything we’ve been doing, and put together our top 30 tips to design your best life.
Whatever stage of Financial Freedom you are at.
Let’s start counting ’em down.
#30 – Get To Know Yourself
Ok – if you want to design your best life, you need to start with knowing what your IDEAL life even looks like! Early on in this series I talked about my experience purchasing the Personality Assessment and Self-Authoring products offered by Jordan Peterson.
While I’ve done MANY personality tests before, these ones helped me to drill down on the specifics of what I want my financial future to look like. And more importantly, the underlying motivations behind those goals.
I found this small investment of time and money to be so insightful, that I would recommend anyone pursuing Financial Freedom to utilize these products as a method to build their road map.
It serves little purpose to have a financial plan if you don’t clearly identify what your long term goals are, or why you want those goals in the first place. These products help you do exactly that. (And no – I get absolutely nothing for this referral.)
#29 – The 5 Worst
I’ll be writing a post about this shortly, but I’ve been using this technique over the past 6 months, and it deserves to be included here.
Identify the 5 things you spend time doing each week……that you detest. The ones that suck the very life from you. That you procrastinate EVERY.SINGLE.TIME.
Write them down. Rank them.
Do some quick mental math to estimate what percentage of your weekly time you spend doing these things you hate.
Now, come up with a list of how you can eliminate, or reduce the amount of time spent.
If it’s grocery shopping, maybe you start using online ordering and pony up the $6 for delivery. Ironing? Maybe you dish out the moola for weekly dry cleaning. Sitting through your child’s pouring rain soccer practice? Maybe you arrange with another parent to trade off weeks.
Figure out ways to do less of what you hate. Yes – even if it costs you a little bit of money.
Now take that time you’ve carved out by reducing the things you hate, hold on to it like it’s gold, and do #28.
#28 – The 5 Best
Now – identify your 5 favourite things to spend time doing. The ones where it feels like time flies by. That from a happiness, enjoyment and sense of satisfaction perspective, bring you the highest ROI.
Write them down. Rank them.
Now ask yourself, what percentage of your time in any given week do you spend doing these things? How can you intentionally increase that percentage?
Take that time you’ve recovered from the things you hate, and play Oprah with your favourite things.
YOU GET SOME TIME. YOU GET SOME TIME. AND YOU GET SOME TIME!!!
Think about the positive net gains of eliminating even 15 minutes a day of something you hate, and replacing it with something you truly enjoy. That’s how you truly design your best life. Be intentional with the small every day things, and find ways to improve upon them.
#27 – Leave Your FOMO Behind
There are polarized opinions on this one, and I know some people think I’m downright crazy. But I’m a firm believer in adhering to a strict information diet.
Don’t even get me started on the reality TV show that is being purported as news South of our border. But even that aside, there is so much “news” that I simply don’t need to know about. Other than darkening my view of the world around me, it serves no purpose for me to know about 99% of what is marketed as news these days.
The other 1% – if it’s really important. I hear about it anyway. How is this possible?
Well, for starters, I talk to other people. Like in real life.
And if I hear about something that sounds worthy of having more understanding about, I look into it. Myself. Without being sold a bag of goods on how I should feel about it, by whatever news agency is “reporting” it.
I’ve been doing this for over 6 years, I’m a happier person for it and have missed out on ZERO.
And if I have – I don’t know about it 😉
#26 – Update Your Goals
Goals are wonderful. I love having goals. They keep me motivated, inspired and striving to reach a little bit further.
But like anything in life, they require ongoing evaluation and critiquing. Your goals for FI, running a marathon, traveling the world, writing a book, they are all bound to change with time and life circumstances.
So why not regularly evaluate your goals to make sure they still align with what you really want. Not to mention, you may find that you have decimated your goal list and need to add some news ones.
This happened to Mike and I just the other day. I was digging through a pile of paperwork and found a “just for fun” list of goals we had set in mid-2018. When I read the date, I had the immediate reaction that these goals would still be in play. But in reality, we had knocked almost everyone of them out of the park.
And the lonely remaining one? It needed to be reworked because it no longer fell into alignment with our plans.
#25 – Savour Something Everyday
Find a tiny ritual in your day that you absolutely savour. That forces you to pause, and enjoy the moment to it’s fullest. I have two. One starts my day, and one comes near the end.
For the start of the day, it’s that first sip of coffee.
I take in a deep breath of the rich aroma. Curl my hands around the cup and soak in the warmth. Take that delicious first sip that signals to my brain that it can actually wake up now.
It’s wonderful, and it sets the tone for the rest of my day.
At the close of the day, it’s putting my toddler to bed. He sings to me, tells me about his day, and asks me to tell him “the story of tomorrow” (filling him on on what we might be doing the next day.)
I lay my head next to his on the pillow. Close my eyes. Smell his freshly washed toddler hair, and smile when he pats my face and says “I love you Mama”. And every single night, every night, no matter how the day went, I remind myself that one day, I will wish more than anything to be right back there.
Find your moment(s) to savour.
#24 – Less Is More
I know this is shocking – but I had to include de-cluttering on this list. I started mine early this year. Inspired by how minimalistic our new cottage feels, I promptly came home and started clearing things out. With a new found rigour to keep only the essentials.
Decluttering is my crack. So much that it actually amazes me that I have anything left to declutter anymore. But I always find something.
I blame our parents. They love to buy stuff for our kids, and they listen to me about zero percent when I ask them to stop. I even keep writing about it on this blog (which they all read), and they still keep doing it. And even after blatantly calling them out right here, I know they still will. (Love you guys.)
#23 – Keep The Numbers In Check
If I wrote a post that was titled “Our Financial Freedom Numbers, the nitty gritty of everything” it would most likely be the highest performing post on this blog.
People love to know other peoples numbers. Why?
We love to compare. We love to stack ourselves up against each other and see where we fall. Don’t lie, we all do it. I do too.
And while numbers CAN be super helpful, they can also be extremely discouraging. In finance, like so many other areas of life, the numbers are relative. And that’s not always easy to keep in perspective.
For any of us.
So rather than always zeroing in on the numbers, and stacking myself up against others, I look for concepts, ideas and methods that I can tailor to my own needs to design MY best life. Without getting lost in the minutia of other peoples numbers.
#22 – Seek The Challenge
It’s wonderful to have arrived at Financial Freedom. I highly recommend it.
While we sat back and enjoyed the achievement for the first little while, sitting on our laurels gets old really quickly. It didn’t take us long to figure out that we needed to find new challenges. Both together, and individually.
And challenge ourselves we have. This blog has been a big one for me. Putting myself out there, interacting with others in the PF space, and hey, how about figuring out how to run a website?!
I’ve learned so much in this past 2.5 years or so of blogging, and it’s challenged me at every turn. Just when I think I’ve got it figured out, I realize that I’ve barely even touched on the tip of the visible blogging iceberg. So many challenges and learning opportunities lie ahead of me.
Mike took up Jiujitsu with our oldest, challenged himself to take his already substantial poker skills to a new level, and took on a massive keto diet adventure.
Together, we tackled purchasing our first vacation property with gusto, and look forward to the massive learning curve of being short term rental land lords.
While “retirement” may traditionally be associated to a life of total leisure, it absolutely doesn’t have to be. For us, that’s not even a viable option.
#21 – Giving
Giving is such an individual topic. There is no one right way to do it, and no one right amount.
But there is no denying, giving to something or someone that has meaning to you, has a way of making us all feel really good. Like we’ve done something truly worthwhile.
Sometimes the difficult part has nothing to do with giving, but with finding what you feel good about giving too. And how to best do that.
While some people say it doesn’t matter, that we should all just aspire to the mere act of giving, I disagree. I can’t abide throwing my money or time into something that’s not truly being used for it’s intended purpose.
Finding the right fit for us from a giving standpoint is something I am still actively working on, taking action in doing so has already proved to be very fulfilling.
#20 – Find A Sustainable Diet
Why are we all trying to achieve Financial Freedom? To enjoy a life where we can choose what we do with our time, right?
So essentially, we are trying to preserve and regain control over the most valuable currency we have – yes?
Then why are we all so incredibly focussed on one singular aspect of reaching Financial Freedom (the money), and much less interested in investing in growing our currency of time?
When it comes to our well-being, diet is an essential component to our overall longevity. It is just as deserving of our attention as our monthly savings rate, or a no spend week.
Finding a sustainable diet means you can meet your nutritional needs, optimize your health and longevity, AND feel good about what you are consuming. Now that sounds like an area worthy of our time and attention.
#19 – Prioritize Your Health
Re-read #20. Every aspect of maintaining and improving our health should be just as important to us as the money flowing in/out of our pockets.
What kind of Freedom will we experience if we don’t treat our health and well being with as much respect and importance as our money?
My health scare threw me for a loop. Don’t get me wrong, I would not change the fact that I pursued Financial Freedom. In fact, having achieved Financial Freedom gave me reassurance that even in the worst case scenario, money would not be a problem for Mike and my kids.
But it did serve as a massive reminder that Financial Freedom in the absence of your health and longevity is essentially meaningless. To obtain real Freedom, all three of those corner stones need to be carefully maintained.
Even then – there are no guarantees, but it’s definitely worth doing everything we can to give us our best shot at a long, healthy, financially free life.
#18 – Gratitude Is Trendy For A Reason
Finding out that I didn’t have cancer had a lot to do with choosing my one word mantra of gratitude for 2020. But so did all the help we got from our amazing family during my health scare. Not to mention being able to buy our dream vacation house the same week we found out the tests were negative.
All in, 2019 highlighted that we have an awful lot to be thankful for.
But having gratitude as my mantra has proven to be more valuable than I expected. With that idea leading the way, I see opportunities to be grateful everywhere I look.
The tendency to take things for granted has lessened, and my glass half full mentality has been consistently reinforced. It has also pushed me to not only appreciate the people who are around us, but to actively SHOW them my appreciation.
Assuming they automatically know this has, in hindsight, been a failure on my part. Taking the time to genuinely show and communicate it has only magnified just how much I have to be grateful for.
#17 – The “Have To” Reboot
At the end of 2019, I was in full blown “have to” mode. And it was all centered around the purchase of our vacation home. I was constantly looking at my to do list, and all the things I needed to purchase and get together to equip our soon to be vacation rental.
It took me a couple weeks to check myself. Have too? Have too? Seriously Phia – I GET TOO.
I needed to do a hard reboot and remind myself that this extra “work” was all our doing. We had been waiting, wanting and wishing for this to become a reality. Now here it was!
Our plates are full of what we choose to put on them. Good, bad or ugly. Sometimes we all need to be reminded of that.
#16 – Support Your Local Library
With a toddler who loves to read, plus my own affinity for reading, I’ve been spending a lot of time using the services of our local library lately.
It’s awesome. Quiet reading nooks, comfy chairs, endless options to pull off the shelves and peruse. It takes me back to when I was a kid and would anxiously await my Mom taking me and my siblings to our local library.
I LOVED it.
Back then, I could hardly believe that I could check out all the books my little heart desired. It seemed too good to be true.
I loved it so much that I set up my own little library at home, (and forced my little brother to check out and return books constantly). I dreamed of being a librarian and using the little barcode scanner they had.
With the advent of self-checkouts at the library, my child hood dream has now become a reality. And my toddler loves it too.
Whether you prefer the library, the park, a hike, or some other equivalent, we should all go more. ‘Member Berries are good for us.
Thanks For Reading
Okay – that’s enough for today. Next week I’ll unveil our top 15 tips, and you’ll be right up to speed on exactly how we are creating our best Financially Free life.
Borrow, take, tailor and modify to your hearts content, so you can design your best life, for YOU.