Making the Leap

Welcome back to life planning month here at Optimize Your Life!

As a foundation, we’ve learned how to live a better life. We’ve learned who we want to be. We’ve figured out what we want to do.

For practical steps, we’ve learned the importance of balance in our planning and we’ve learned to set smaller goals.

But what happens when a small change isn’t the answer? What do we do when we need to consider a big change to our lives?

A path to a better lifeMaybe the best way to get more balance in your life is to get a new job. Maybe the best way to save more money is to move to a different state with a lower cost-of-living. Maybe you’re considering going back to school to increase your earning potential. Maybe you’re debating whether to expand your family and have a kid.

These aren’t small changes. They aren’t easily translated into daily habits.

They’re also scary.

When approaching big decisions like these, how do you analyze the risks? How do you weigh the pros and cons?

Today we dive into these questions. Continue reading “Making the Leap”

Set Smaller Goals!

Most people don’t stick to their New Year’s resolutions.

Stop setting goals that are too large!Have you noticed how crowded the gym is every January? Try comparing your January experience at the gym to your June experience. It is night and day.

Last month I could go down to the gym at any hour and use any machine without waiting. This month all of a sudden the place is hopping.

Each month for the rest of the year it will get less and less crowded until we start over next January. We see the same thing play out every year.

People set ambitious resolutions every January and then gradually drop them all over the course of the year.

There are a number of reasons for that (including failure to set good goals) but today I want to focus on one particular problem. Continue reading “Set Smaller Goals!”

Successful Careers and Failed Relationships

My last article addressed how to map out a path to a better life.

Never forget the importance of balance in a good lifeIn it, I recommended systematically going through every area of your life and analyzing each individually. Where are you right now in your financial life? Where do you want to go? Where are you in your relationship with your spouse? In your career? In your hobbies? In you physical health? Mental health and intellectual endeavors?

If you are trying to learn to be successful by looking at what people at the very top of their fields have done, my approach may seem counter-intuitive.

As someone who has read a lot of biographies of successful people, I have found that one of the defining factors of these characters is a singular focus and drive. They are obsessively focused on one aspect of their life and they use that focus to push them to the top.

I’m not going to tell you that that won’t work for you.

I’m going to tell you that it might, but you shouldn’t do it anyway. Continue reading “Successful Careers and Failed Relationships”

Mapping Your Route to a Better Life

January 2018 is life planning month around here.What do you want to do?

In preparation, I spent a lot of time imbibing a lot of different resources on life planning. Books, articles, videos, online courses…pretty much anything you can think of, I was there.

My original plan was to learn the basics and then find the best resource and follow it 100% A to Z.

The first problem I encountered was that most resources mixed up the questions of who you want to be and what you want to do.

Answering the question “Who do you want to be?” requires a very different approach to answering the question “What do you want to do?” They’re both very important questions when thinking about the big picture of your life. But they need to be addressed separately.

The second problem was that the resources that addressed the “What do you want to do?” question all took pretty much the same approach. There were variations, of course. Everyone has their own slightly different spin. But they all broke down to essentially the same three parts. Continue reading “Mapping Your Route to a Better Life”

Who Do You Want to Be?

Our journey to a better life starts with one of the more existential and abstract questions out there.

Who do you want to be?Who do you want to be?

If you are a long-time reader, then you know that this will go somewhere far more practical soon. If you’re new around here, (welcome!) I promise we’ll get to nitty gritty by the end of this article. Bare with me.

It’s easy to skip over the abstract, big-picture questions as we rush to the practical application. Life hacks are popular for a reason. We don’t think we have the time or capacity for the deep thinking and introspection required to address big issues.

I’m not judging! I’ve been there. Hell, I’m still there most of the time. But we’re going somewhere else for January. We’re going deeper.

So here we go. Continue reading “Who Do You Want to Be?”

How to Live a Better Life

My resolution for 2018 is to live a better life.

Bam. Nailed it.

But also, how do I do that?

Well for one, try adding bourbon to your normal routines. (I’m doing that now!)

That is the question (how to live a better life, not how to drink bourbon) I have spent the last month exploring, and the one that I would like to explore with you here. Continue reading “How to Live a Better Life”

How I Invest – Investments

Way back in the glory days of October I started laying out a description of how I invest.

Previously, we looked at the different accounts that I use – the buckets that hold my investments. Now it’s time to look at the investments themselves.

What you’ll find is that I don’t follow the traditional advice here. I don’t think I’ve seen my strategy advocated by anyone anywhere. I’ve honestly been a bit hesitant to lay it out because it feels a bit odd coming from someone who is all about optimizing.

But here is where I will admit to, explain, and defend, my investing strategy.

Continue reading “How I Invest – Investments”

How to Control (and Minimize) Negative Emotions

Stoicism has gotten a bad rap.

These days, when people think “stoic,” they think “emotionless.” “Indifferent to pleasure and pain” is now literally a definition of the word “stoic.”

That’s not what the Stoics were going for.

For the Stoics, the goal is not to avoid all emotion. It is to minimize negative emotion. I can see where people get confused, though.

I am often accused (usually jokingly, but often enough to take the hint) of being emotionless.

I disagree with this assessment. I feel plenty of emotions. I just try not to dwell on negative emotions.

And I try not to act on them, either. Continue reading “How to Control (and Minimize) Negative Emotions”

Why You Should Ask Why

Gretchen Rubin wrote a book on forming habits called Better Than Before.

There are a few other good books on habits (I recommend Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit), but Rubin’s big innovation was identifying different personality types. Some habit-building techniques work for some people, but there are very few universal approaches that work for everyone. Rubin divides her readers into four groups and then provides tips specific to each group.

Under Rubin’s framework, I am a Questioner.

“Questioners question all expectations, and they respond to an expectation only if they conclude that it makes sense. They’re motivated by reason, logic, and fairness. They wake up and think, ‘What needs to get done today, and why?’ They decide for themselves whether a course of action is a good idea, and they resist doing anything that seems to lack sound purpose.”

Beyond habit-building, this is a pretty good view into my permanent mindset. I ask “Why?” about pretty much everything, and if the answer is any variation of “Because that’s how we’ve always done it” then I’m out.

Continue reading “Why You Should Ask Why”

When Clickbait Kills

Some articles have been making the rounds on Facebook about a new study on the effects of flu shots on pregnant women. The headlines are bold:

Miscarriages Linked to Flu Vaccine

Annual Flu Shots Linked to Increased Risk of Miscarriage

Alarming Study Links Flu Shot with Early Miscarriage

Could Flu Shots Lead to Miscarriage?

Continue reading “When Clickbait Kills”