My Better Life

Today we have the final article for life planning month. This will be a look into what I am implementing right now.

Maybe you’ve noticed, however, that it is no longer January. You also may have noticed that there were no posts last week.

That’s because I had a baby. Well, my wife did most of the hard work, but I was there.

I don’t know if anyone’s ever noticed this before, but taking care of a newborn is exhausting. The little guy needs to eat every two hours. I’m not a great sleeper, but I do tend to prefer sleeping for more than two hours at a time.

Planning a better lifeSo here we are. We’ll finish off January today and then start February (personal finance basics) on Thursday. Assuming I can stay awake long enough to write another article by then.

For now, here’s how I am implementing the lessons we’ve learned this month.

Who I Want to Be

For this section I am going to take a dual approach.

First, I want to think each day about whether I acted like the type of person that I want my son to grow to be.

The main tool for implementing this will be a quick journaling routine before bed. Each night I will write one thing that I did that would set a good example for my son and one thing that set a bad example.

I say “would” here, because I want to consider my actions through the whole day rather than just the actions that he witnesses. While setting a good example in front of him is important, this exercise is ultimately to make me a better person and needs to encompass my whole life.

Next, I plan to pick one trait every month that I want to improve. The ones that come to mind first are that I want to be more forgiving and I want to be more generous.

I will use my evening journal routine to implement this, as well. I will write a couple sentences each night on how I did on the designated trait during the day. This will force me to think about my actions on a nightly basis and will help steer me as the month progresses.

I am planning on not doing a specific trait for February because oh God I’m so tired. I will start the good example/bad example routine this month, but will hold off on anything further in this section until my life becomes slightly more manageable.

What I Want to Do

I already wrote about my analysis of my day job with regards to this topic in the initial article. I continue to work on that and have put some wheels in motion.

Beyond that, the “what I want to do” of it all will be largely played out in the month by month topics that we will cover here this year.

As noted above, that means that February will be diving back into personal finance basics after having our financial life turned upside down. (Anyone that tells you having kids can be cheap is doing their math wrong and I will happily debate them. As, I’m sure, will Penny.)

The Importance of Balance

This is a good time to remind myself that there are different types of balance.

The most obvious form of balance is when you have a bunch of things going on at once and none of them overpower the others.

However, you can also be balanced across time.

You can work harder in your 20s and dial back to focus on family in your 30s. You can hustle hard in the spring so that you can take time off guilt free in the summer. You can let one aspect of your life be the focus for a limited period of time.

Right now is a time where family is my only focus.

I took time off of work. I skipped articles for the blog. I’m missing hockey games. I’m not going out with my friends.

I am focused entirely on my newborn and helping my wife recover.

As time progresses I will bring the rest of my life back into the picture and will move back towards the first type of balance.

You can see this in the sparseness of the life improvement actions I am taking in this article. As time progresses I will build back up and will add more to my plate.

Small Consistent Changes

I am adding two small consistent changes to my routine.

First, I am starting an evening journal as described above. I want to write, even if only a few sentences, every night to keep me on track and to keep improving.

The other change that I am implementing right away is writing every day.

It doesn’t matter how much at this point. A thousand words is great but a few sentences is okay, too. Doesn’t matter if it is for the blog, for another project, or just for myself. Fiction or nonfiction.

Just write.

I want to be a better writer, and the way to be a better writer is to write more. If I can work on the quantity, then improved quality will follow.

I use a habit tracking app called Momentum. I have a list of the habits that I am working on and every day I either click the box next to a habit or I don’t. Clicking the box turns it green and building a chain of green boxes is surprisingly motivating for me.

I am adding both of these to the app today.

Making Big Changes

Well…I just had a baby. That’s big enough for right now.

However, I will continue to develop and maintain the mindset explored in this article and will address any potential big changes that come up.

Set Goals That Scare Me

I am going to write a novel this year.

There are a number of goals in the creative sphere that I have considered on and off for years that scare me. I tend to think about them for a while, plot out what I want to do, and then procrastinate and eventually abandon them.

This year I am picking one and I am going to make it happen.

I have decided that my first step will be to write up five quick plot outlines to send to friends. Based on the input from those friends I will pick which story to go forward with. I tend to lean in a whole bunch of different directions genre-wise and this will allow me to think through some totally different concepts and get outside feedback.

Once I have that I will make a more detailed plan on how to move forward with that story and get a novel written.

Part of making sure I follow through on this will be the friends that I enlist for story selection. Another part will be the fact that I am publicly stating this goal here and will be providing updates as the year goes on. I hope that you all will call me out if I don’t follow through.

Join the Conversation!

So that’s where I’m starting.

I plan to do semi-regular updates throughout the year to expand on this as goals and life change and develop. I hope that this practice will both help you all and hold me accountable.

What are you working on? What are you planning on tackling to improve your life? Do you have any small changes? Big changes? Scary goals? Let us know in the comments!

8 thoughts on “My Better Life”

  1. Remarkably coherent considering you’re parenting a newborn right now, Matt 🙂 Congrats!!

    May more fathers follow the example that you set – both parents need to be present and parenting during this time not just moms.

    As to improvements, my small ones are baking more and walking more. Big ones are gigantic, deciding whether to change our investment strategy and whether that will better serve our end goals. As with all things, one step at a time!
    Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life recently posted…Money & Life Report: January 2018My Profile

    1. Thanks, Revanche! I had one coworker tell me not to take my leave because management would think I’m not serious enough about my job and another coworker told me not to take leave up front because “dads aren’t helpful.” So glad that I ignored them. It is exhausting, but so rewarding.

      Walking more is a great small change. I added that one last year and a short extra walk, done every day, made me feel so much better over time.

      Good luck with the investment strategy review. I’m sure that can feel heavy, but you’ll figure it out.
      Matt recently posted…How to Live a Better LifeMy Profile

    1. Thanks, Jason! And the novel is something that I’ve been abandoning and coming back to for probably at least a decade now and the idea of actually sitting down and making it happen both makes me excited and also makes my chest tighten in anxiety. Seemed like the appropriate way to go with that post.
      Matt recently posted…Big Money ChangesMy Profile

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