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Creating Momentum

To you bloggers that consistently put out multiple articles per week for years – my sincere respect.

To someone who stays in shape while raising children in today’s hectic world – a tip of the hat.

To any hobbyist that sticks with it through life’s ups & down – cheers.

Between work and young kids, I’ve struggled to stick to anything…Haha, cue my one year old – up early from his nap – I’ll be back later to finish this!…Back now, two days later.

So how does someone get re-started on long-term goals coming out of chaos?  Create some momentum.  Find something, anything that moves you towards your goal.  Get some small wins.  Create a habit.

(Un)Health

It's healthy since there are veggies on that one piece, right?
It’s healthy since there are veggies on that one piece, right?

Two weeks ago, I set a record for myself…unfortunately on the weight scale.  190 pounds.  Oh my God, almost 200.

No, I haven’t been crushing protein shakes and bench presses.  Just over-eating the wrong type of food, and living a relatively sedentary lifestyle.  It started with sympathy weight gained during my wife’s pregnancy, then followed with sleep-deprivation and well-meaning casseroles during newborn life, and flowed through a tumultuous fall where my health wasn’t on the priority list.  Then during basketball season, I tend to drink & eat pizzas too often (justified kind of with the stress of the postseason).

I tried to cut pounds with resolutions and promises to myself of life-change upon random calendar/seasonal dates.  Then with the 190 lb weigh-in, I decided to be practical & small.  Since I get to the gym relatively often, it’s mainly an eating (& sleep – but that fix is for a later year) issue.  So for that day, I’d cut out the sodas &/or beer, some carbs, and eat salad for a meal.

Check.  One day down.  Then the next day I kept eating healthy as a priority.  Also embraced hunger a bit – remembered that it’s ridiculous to become very full after each meal.  It’s ok for me to feel hungry.  It can keep me sharp, and is a natural feeling while I reset my stomach’s expectations.

After 3-4 days, I’d lost a couple of pounds.  Just water weight probably – as I ate less salty, fried, and carbonated calories.  But it was progress.  And it propelled me another handful of days.

Two weeks in, I’m 6 pounds lighter.  More importantly, I have a good base & trajectory set.

It just took a little action, not over-thinking or a grand strategy.  Some small wins, and attention to those.  Then repeat.  On to mediums-sized wins.  Now I’m on my way.

I’d like to get below 170 by the end of the summer.  Twenty pounds sounded like a lot.  But now, 14 doesn’t sound impossible.

Here’s to beginning.

Blogging

I’ve also put this blog aside recently.  Maybe an article here or there.  But underwhelming by any measure.

I’ll try to get a little momentum here over the next month.  Starting with this article.  Again, I won’t likely be elected to any output hall-of-fame, but small wins.  Maybe another simple post next.  Create a positive feedback loop for myself.  Then through a routine, get back to a hobby that I enjoy.

Personal Finance

Building momentum in small, quick pieces is powerful for any goal – especially in personal finance.   Since personal finance is a long-term pursuit, it takes long-term goals to succeed.  But long-term goals can be daunting.

Which goals have you attempted unsuccessfully in the last few rounds of new-years-resolutioning?  If you’re like me, you might have never even really started. Analysis paralysis.  Waiting to perfect that plan can be ruinous.  Instead, just experiment a little and see what sticks.  If you hate it, you can always stop.

Instead of waiting for perfection, just get started with some little stuff. Here are some examples:

Cut debt?…cut a latte, hold off on new clothes, cook in for a week…then apply the savings towards your highest interest rate debt.  Calculate how much that saves you each year in interest.  Try to do it for another week, and watch the cumulative effect.

Max out your 401k?…go ahead and increase your savings rate by a percent or two.  You’ll never notice it.  Then in a couple of months do that again.  Multiply these amounts by a year of savings then give yourself a 7% return for 30 years (annual savings * (1.07)^30 = 7.6 * your annual savings).  The number will hopefully impress you enough to keep increasing it.  Keep doing this every few months.  Maybe you’ll get a raise sometime in this process – direct at least half of that raise to your 401k.  You’ll max out before too long.

Give to Charity?…same process as 401k.  Just start with a little each month.  Save this, then try to give to a cause that will show results that you can see.  For instance, send a kid to a week of summer camp.  Or send enough to the food bank to buy a certain number of meals.  Etc.  Up the amount you give for time to time as raises or other windfalls happen, you find ways to save, and/or if you like the results.

The list of topics can go on.  Basically any long-term goal can be boiled down into some short-term pieces that are actionable today.  Try the easy ones.  See if you can build momentum and harness it.  Ultimately you could get yourself swept up in a good habit.

5 thoughts on “Creating Momentum

  1. Hi southern fried finance, I resonate a lot with what you are feeling. I’m in the same boat, with young kids, blog, consulting, life, and now more intense workouts… Hard to balance it all. I 100 percent agree on the momentum, it is the velocity of the progress and changes over time that matters.

    Similar to you, what I find helpful is actioning anything every single day that moves me closer to one of my goals divided between health, relationships, finances, personal and career and most importantly making time for it because of a strong why.

    Of course, there are things in life you can control like kids not sleeping at night, getting sick, etc but if you try to stick to it more often than not, there will be a day where you look back and say holy moly, I can’t believe I completed all that!

    Can you share what books and other habits you’ve stuck too that helped with your focus and productivity ?

    1. A good book I read on those topics recently was Toxic Success (Paul Pearsall)…describing success from an Oceanic point of view. Generally: work hard, but engage & pay attention to your daily life. I’m just now finishing Strength in What Remains (Tracy Kidder) about one man’s escape from ethnic cleansings in Burundi to poverty in NY then to becoming a doctor. Great story; hard to not appreciate what we all have when reading that. And in between I read some Vince Flynn shoot-em-ups – not everything can be serious.

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