Last week we started our mid-game review of the best lessons we’ve learned on our one year Finding Freedom journey. And this week we are sharing the second half of our top 30 tips for designing your best life. Whether you’ve reached Financial Freedom, are just starting out, or well on your way there.
Let’s jump right into the final 15.
#15 – Get To Know Your Warning Phrase
I am now on high alert when I find myself thinking or uttering these four dangerous words. They are often the warning signs that I am about to die on a molehill.
Coming to terms with this fact has saved me untold battles that weren’t worth fighting in the first place. Not just on Twitter, but in real life too!
Learn your warning phrase. The ROI will be immense.
#14 – Take 10 Every Day
Meditate. Another trendy habit that is trendy for a reason. I procrastinated this one BIGTIME. But I’m so glad that I finally got my butt into gear. It’s a major part of my sleep routine, AND I’ve found myself using the techniques when I’m feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or even bored.
Ironically – my procrastination actually ended up paying off for me. The Waking Up app opened all it’s content up for free in the last couple weeks of 2019, so I got to trial a bunch of stuff AND that was promptly followed by a 20% off coupon for a one year subscription.
Now I’m financially committed, and determined to explore every piece of content they offer.
#13 – Continue To Build
Whether it’s continuing to grow our money, or our influence, stopping all things financially productive is simply not an option for Mike or I.
We enjoy the challenge. We enjoy the process of making money. We are already super excited about tracking how fast we pay down this vacation rental mortgage (even though, trust me, we ourselves have repeatedly told ourselves not to. We just can’t help it. )
Maybe money is a bit of a hobby for us in and of itself.
Initially I fought this. I felt like there was something wrong with pursuing more, when we already had enough. But if we enjoy being productive and creating income streams, then why not? Better than some hobbies we could choose!
If this is you – don’t feel guilty. Embrace it, and use your money skills to your benefit (and others).
#12 – Pick The Low Hanging Fruit
Whether it’s designing your best life, or improving your finances, there is often a lot of low hanging fruit, just waiting to be picked. Intentionally finding these opportunities and maximizing your efficiency with them can often get you 90% of the way to your goals.
Sure, you can make things complicated about ANY topic. But my advice? Keep it simple, until you have done EVERYTHING simple.
Then worry about the complex, if you even need/want to.
#11 – Leave Room For Growth
Yah – I’m not talking about intellectual growth. I feel like that’s obvious. Plus – see Point # 16 above.
I’m talking about growth of expenses.
Our lifestyle has very intentionally inflated since reaching Financial Freedom, and I love the things we have chosen. Giving ourselves that buffer to add in some new indulgences/experiences was absolutely worth every extra minute of work that we had to invest to get there.
When it comes to Financial Freedom – don’t pin yourself into a corner. Leave some room for flexibility of future wants/needs.
#10 – Hit By A Bus Ready
The other thing my health scare highlighted? Communicating with your partner about EVERYTHING finance. Even if it’s as simple as how you pay the gas bill, or the call-in password for the security alarm.
I used to constantly use this mind set at work. I wanted all of my projects to be in such a state that if I got hit by a bus at any given moment, the poor sap who inherited my workload could at least pick up from where I left off. Without a ton of confusion, delay, or interruption.
I never thought to take the same approach to my personal life. But frankly, if something horrible were to happen, the last thing I would want for Mike or my kids is to be left scrambling to sort out finance related stuff.
Having shared knowledge over everything finance related helps to ensure that your partner isn’t left out in the cold if something dire were to happen.
#9 – Practice Give & Take
At this point, everyone knows quality relationships are one of the biggest predictors of happiness. But just having a bunch of relationships isn’t going to guarantee you a happy life.
It’s the quality of those relationships that matters, and having ones where you can both give and take, generally bring the most balance to our lives.
Far too often, friendships become quickly imbalanced. With one party giving an awful lot more than the other. Those friendships often detract from our happiness, rather than contributing to it.
So evaluate the relationship in your life. Pare down on those that are one-sided, and invest in the give and take ones. They’ll produce the best ROI.
#8 – Strive For Simple – Be Wary Of Easy
I have long strived to simplify our life. But in doing so, I started to focus a little too much on making things easy.
Simple things can still require a lot of hard work. Like achieving Financial Freedom. But simplicity doesn’t mean giving up rewarding experiences, just because they require some elbow grease. Pursuing easy, often does.
I found this to be true when I examined how I approach Christmas. My efforts to simplify had shifted towards looking for the easiest path, and that meant I had given up doing a lot of things that make Christmas a special time.
Easy has it’s place, but it’s worth being mindful of what it’s replacing.
#7 – A Place To Escape
Somewhere I can escape the daily demands of life (and children) is essential to my sanity. Mike and I may have taken it a little far by purchasing a vacation rental this year, but scale aside, the concept is the same.
Whether it’s carving out a corner in your bedroom, a sanctuary in your office, a reading nook in your living room, or going full out with a second house, having a space where you can shut out the incessant noise of the world can afford a plethora of benefits.
#6 – Find A Project
Wherever you are at in life, having your own personal project on the go provides a ton of ROI. A personal sense of satisfaction, achievement, and productivity. These are valuable emotions that shouldn’t be ignored.
So whether that personal project is a blog, renovating a room in your house, running a marathon, growing a garden, starting a business, or purchasing an investment property, create and identify a project that you own.
Regardless of the outcome, the process will pay you dividends.
#5 – Say No
There will always, always, always be more demands for our time, than we have time to give. The ability to say no is essential to design our best lives.
It can be uncomfortable. It can be frustrating. It can be ultra annoying. But no one else is going to do it for us.
Also, there is no trophy that recognizes our willingness to over extend ourselves, for the benefit of everyone else and the detriment of ourselves (and our families).
Just. Say. No.
PS. Once you start doing it, it gets a whole lot easier.
#4 – Say Yes
The downside to needing to say no? Sometimes the things we should say yes to, get lost in the mix.
We can go onto auto-pilot protecting our time and shielding ourselves from the deluge of requests. So much so, that sometimes we miss out on opportunities that would bring us a substantial ROI. I definitely encountered this in our first couple years of retirement.
Whether it’s giving a yes or no answer to to commitment, experiences and opportunities, avoid auto-pilot. Evaluate each one on its own merits, and then make your decision.
Oh and just because you initially say yes, doesn’t mean you can’t later say no if it’s not working into your life the way you thought it would. (Just ask my old Parent Advisory Committee. Hard NO to year number 2.)
#3 – Environment Matters
Yes – I’m a bit of an eco-friendly/sustainability person. But I’m not even talking about global warming in this one. I’m talking about the environment we choose to live in. What we choose to surround ourselves with.
Thinking hard about the geographic area you’ve chosen to live in, and the actual structure of your residence in comparison to your personality is not something we often stop to think about.
Sure, we ask if we like it, or if it feels like home when we are buying/renting a place. But how often do we stop to ask, does this place and what it offers provide a space that gives me energy, or takes energy?
We definitely want to be intentionally choosing the former. And even sometimes when the space itself does, what about the surroundings? Or it’s impact on your commute? Or walkability. Critically analyzing how your digs contribute or detract from your well being is a valuable question to ask.
We spent a lot of time doing that this year. Evaluating if we want to move, downsize in our immediate area, or make changes to our existing home to better suit our needs. Making sure that our day to day environment is contributing to our overall happiness.
#2 – Invest In Your Sleep
This is a doozy. Hence why I kicked this whole series off with two mega-posts all about it.
But let’s be real. If you aren’t sleeping well – EVERYTHING else in your life is going to suffer. And Financial Freedom won’t fix it. Trust me.
Fixing this one component can have ridiculous positive net gains across every other aspect of your life. But ignoring sleep issues will do exactly the same on the negative side.
Invest in your sleep – make it a priority. And absolutely don’t allow your pursuit of Financial Freedom to come at the cost of your sleep.
#1 – Process Over Outcome
Oh man – this one is a big one for me. I am an outcome girl. It’s how I’m hard wired.
I always want to get things done, and arrive at my goal.
This works for me in that I generally get a ton of stuff accomplished.
It works against me, in that, I don’t actually get to enjoy the journey. And the worst part, the outcome is often short lived and a bit anti-climactic.
I think a lot of people in the FIRE world are similar. It’s part of what makes us tick, and what makes us choose a goal like Financial Independence/Freedom in the first place. But it also makes it insanely hard for us to just slow down and enjoy the little things in life.
To shed the need to be constantly productive, and just enjoy.
I know this doesn’t apply to everyone, but it is absolutely me. And if I’m going to maximize my enjoyment of Financial Freedom, it is absolutely something I need to bring into balance.
Every other thing on this list is, in part, an effort to do exactly that. To slow things down, become more mindful, shed the non-essential, maximize the high ROI investments, and experience the process.
Independent of the outcome.
Thanks For Reading
That wraps up our 30 for 30 list! Let us know which tips work best for designing your best life.
In Week 32 we are getting back into the series, taking a deeper dive into the techniques I mentioned in #28 & 29 of this top 30 list, and how using them can create massive net gains to your overall contentment.
See you next Monday!