No, no, NO…re-read the title of this blog. It was not gold digger it was GOALDIGGER. I saw this on a shirt some guy was wearing at the gym the other day and thought it was great. So, as is often the case for me, I grabbed my phone and wrote a reminder about this in my NOTES app. And here I am a few days later, sitting in my favorite coffee shop writing about that very thought.
As we close out a (insert cliché crazy 2020 phrase of your choice here) year filled with craziness that I hope never repeats itself, many people are thinking about goals for the New Year. Personally I don’t wait until January 1 to start my goals, new habits, etc., but since many do, I will play along for a moment. But in the spirit of Goal Setting Season, I thought I would chime in one few thoughts. If you are setting up some new thought processes, habits, goals, and self-improvements, please allow me to not only make some suggestions on what to do, but how to go about them so you are likely to be successful.
Ok, in order of importance, according to me, here is the list for tightening up your life…
Step 1. Get your finances in order – this is a broad and sweeping definition, but I am guessing many of us know where our blind spots and weaknesses lie. We push back, fight about it, and ignore these things all the time, but in a quiet moment when we have nothing else to distract us, deep down we KNOW what we need to be better about or do differently. For many people, finances are an easy target when it comes to an area for improvement.
This year may have illuminated just how financially vulnerable many of us are. If you were lucky enough that it didn’t hit you directly, you certainly have friends who are suffering from a job loss, reduced hours, no year-end bonus that is counted on for buying presents, etc. that you can learn from. If you are spending every dime you make, and in some cases BEFORE you make it, you are vulnerable. You are setting yourself up for some serious problems. I have said it before and I will say it again: I have been there, done that. I learned the hard way, but I did learn and I never want to go back to my old ways. I have had to go to friends and family members, tail between my legs, and ask for money to get by for a bit. Now understand, we all hit rough patches in our lives and everyone needs a hand once in a while. But this wasn’t a medical issue that cost me tons of money or a sudden job loss that took food off of the table for a bit. It was a problem of my own creation.
This was the perfect storm of:
–sheer lack of foresight
–ego/desire to “keep up with the Joneses”
–living above my own means (see point #2)
Right now, I consider my job stable and my company has actually seen our best year ever in 2020 despite three months of 30%+ reduction in gross revenue. But if that were not the case, and I had gotten furloughed, laid off, or whatever, I have enough money set aside that I could look for another job without the panic of paying bills in two weeks. My wife and I have worked hard to build a cushion of six month salary in our savings ON TOP OF reducing our debt to almost nothing but the mortgage payment. In a pinch, I could deliver pizzas and cover our household bills completely. We have no car payments, and we cash-flowed her schooling until her employer started to pay it for her. We live on a budget that is significantly less than our combined monthly income. To us, there is nothing more important than setting ourselves up for success and a future that grows more comfortable year over year. I wish everyone could be in this same position, as it is the best way to live without fear. Get your shit together and stop making yourself vulnerable. Don’t allow bad buying habits or the desire to “keep up with others” put you in a bad spot financially.
Step 2. Get Healthy – In my personal opinion, we are in the MIDDLE of the COVID pandemic, not the waning stages. There are too many people fighting the process, ignoring basic safety measures, traveling and a myriad of other bad ideas that will inevitably spread the virus more and more. Now there is talk of a new strain of this thing making the rounds in Europe and will likely be headed our way in the U.S. very soon. Medical experts opinions have changed throughout this year, going from one end of the spectrum to the other. But I can tell you this with 100% certainty….the healthier you are, the better off you will be in general. If you get COVID, the impact is highly likely to be far less than if you have other underlying factors like diabetes or other health concerns. Yes, there are exceptions, but we are talking about a small percent versus the rest of the world. Stop being combative, I am trying to help you….
Get your ass off the couch, pry the Twinkie out of your fingers and go for a walk outside. If you already fit, get in even better shape. Get to the gym if you can and/or want to, otherwise do it yourself. Make room in the garage, buy some stuff off of OfferUp or Craigslist and get to work. Increase your cardio capacity and your muscle strength. Get Vitamin D every day from sun exposure. I had a good friend who is only a little older than I am, and he spent 45 days in ICU and was on the verge of death due to COVID. He was in decent shape beforehand, and credits this in making all the difference to him being alive today. Need a reason to work out? How about this: You could be in for the fight of your life…prepare accordingly. Get better step by step; don’t think you’re going to run a mile a day if you’ve never walked to the end of the block before. Create REALISTIC goals, things you can stick to and build on, and play the long game. Strive to be a lot better six months from now, not six days from now. It is a slow and steady process that works, not a fad diet or an exercise blitz that undoes years of bad habits.
Step 3. Clean up your diet – For a couple of years now I have lived a lifestyle (not a diet, which implies a temporary adjustment) of Intermittent Fasting. It has worked well for me, and I look better now at 50 than I did at 45. The basics are easy, I eat within an eight hour window of time each day, and avoid eating outside of that timeline. It is a simple adjustment that allows your body to better digest the food you do eat, therefore easing the process on your system itself while facilitating better and more restful sleep. I eat between 10AM and 6PM almost every day. Do I cheat and stray from this? Yes I do: on occasion I eat wings and pizza at 8PM watching a UFC fight. Hells yeah… I LIVE, I don’t suffer. But doing this once in a while is just fine because I am diligent about it the rest of the time. A scheduled cheat day ALLOWS me to look forward to changing things up on occasion and makes the diligence of the Intermittent Fasting schedule that much easier.
What I am going to so to enhance my own habit is to eat two large, nutrient dense meals per day, breakfast and lunch, and then eat some light carbs and drink a protein shake for dinner. For me, this will do a couple of things. I will sleep better with the carbs on board as well as having my last meal be an easily assimilated one. I know I sleep much better on a mostly empty stomach, but it is a fine line. If I don’t eat, I will wake up around midnight and be hungry. If I eat too much, I have trouble getting sleep, staying asleep, and will have weird dreams on top of it. But enough about me…
For you, figure out how to make an incremental improvement in the month of January. Nothing radical, nothing too major, just a little better than today. Do you drink too much? Cut back…don’t try to stop all drinking for an undetermined amount of time, but rather cut back by a third now, and then another third a month from now. Live on fast food? Each and every nutritionally devoid meal which you consume is working against you, not for you. It’s cheap for a reason, they capitalize on your laziness and they get you hooked. You don’t need another cheesy gordita ever, but if you want to keep it as your once a week cheat meal, go ahead. Quite buying energy drinks, as they are A. expensive over the course of a month, B. loaded with chemicals that are highly addictive and C. wreak havoc with your heart, brain chemistry and gut health. Same with the sugary Starbucks or Dutch Bros drinks. Finance your own lifestyle, not the corporations.
Need to lose weight? Gain weight? Stop smoking? Cut back on the weed? Whatever it is, Self Awareness is the key to success.Make yourself aware of your shortcoming and start addressing them. WE ALL HAVE THEM, so don’t think you are cursed or unique in any way. Welcome to the club…now get moving. Make a list of things to work on, PICK REALISTIC GOALS and TIMELINES, AND GO TO WORK. Want an easier and better life? This is the key, and there is no other way to do it. Sorry to break it to you, but that is the truth.