Happy New Year! I hope you had a terrific holiday season. We’ll be moving into our remodeled lake house next week after having a very different Christmas. I guess it was a fitting end to 2017 – our year of change. In 2017, we sold our house, became empty nesters, and I quit working full-time!
It’s hard to believe that just last week, people were busy coming up with New Year’s resolutions and many updated their goals for 2018. And others just skipped that altogether.
I was never a big fan of making resolutions. I’m not even good at meeting specific goals. So in December, 2016, I switched my focus to growing habits and that became my focus for 2017. Here is a list of the habits I wanted to develop and the “grade” I gave myself.
Keep Moving = B. We walked, swam, kayaked, and did a ton of physical DIY work last year but there were plenty of days when movement wasn’t our focus at all.
Eat Real Food = B. The quality of food on our shopping list definitely improved last year. The kids were much more focused on healthy eating which helped all of us eat more “real” food.
Help Others = C. We gave away furniture, clothes, toys, tools, and more. But one thing we didn’t give away was our time. Time to volunteer just wasn’t in our schedules last year.
Simplify = B. We sold a house that had a garage and a basement. And our lake house has neither! We did great decluttering things – but with all we had going on, life was definitely not “simple” last year!
Explore = B. We spent two awesome weeks exploring Colorado. But we didn’t do much local exploration near our homes in New York or Florida.
Choose Happiness and Have Fun = B. We had great vacations and fun times at home, but there was definitely some stress! I’m glad The Groovy’s “Fight-O-Meter” didn’t exist last year! 😉
But did any of these really become habits?
I’m not so sure. Maybe learning – but that wasn’t much of a surprise. Maybe habits aren’t my thing either. But after looking up a few definitions of the word habit – it makes more sense.
Habit – an action done on a regular basis; doing unconsciously and often compulsively; an behaviors that have become nearly or completely involuntary.
Most of the things I chose to work on require conscious actions and planning. So this year I am shifting away from the term habit to focus on a set of practices.
A practice is repetition of an activity to improve a skill, act or method followed with regularity and usually through choice.
If what I choose to focus on really matters to me, I need to be more deliberate about getting it done! This will require action, decisions, and reflection. And that’s how I see practices being different than habits. These aren’t just things I’ll do without much thought.
Practices also encourage growth, rather than automaticity.
The core of things I want to focus on hasn’t really changed. Some of the words are even the same. It’s how I’ll go about working toward them that will be different. You’ll notice a * next to some of them and I’ll explain that in just a minute.
Exercise*. Moving isn’t enough. I walked on the treadmill for hours on end last year and didn’t make much progress. I need to improve my fitness by adding high intensity interval training (HIIT) and weight lifting into my workout plan. My fitness practice has to change.
Don’t Eat (Buy) Crap*. Eat Real Food almost comes off as some kind of diet. The rule I plan to follow is to avoid processed or “crappy” food at home. We rarely eat out – maybe once or twice a month. But when we do, I can make any food or drink choice I want without worrying about it.
Care, Connect, and Commit* rather than Help Others. It’s one thing to help someone, it’s another to care, connect and commit. This requires a more focused effort. But creating deeper relationships is better for everyone involved.
Simplify. I’m leaving this term alone, but there will be greater emphasis on simplifying life and our schedules and routines, not just our “stuff”. This will definitely require reflection. More free time can lead to more opportunities that clutter up life.
Learn and Create rather than Keep Learning. I tend to read a great deal but it’s time to put more of what I know into action. Maybe it’s just more writing. Maybe even an e-book. It could be an online course or a video series. I’m just not sure yet. A lot of learning comes from creating too.
Explore and Choose Happiness and Have Fun are still on the list. Selling one house, having another house fully remodeled and hiring a property manager should give us more free time in 2018! Local exploration needs to be planned into our schedule, in addition to other trips this year. And with everything going on in the world, things can get pretty depressing. I’m trying a “low information” diet (in terms of news) to keep an upbeat attitude.
So why did I * some terms?
Jillian from Montana Money Adventures gave me two great books last year (if you’re not following her – you should!) Younger Next Year and Thinner This Year. I am not a huge book reader, but I connected with these immediately. And I found out that other online friends had read them too. And if you are a Millennial – don’t stop reading here! The author’s suggest that aging really kicks in at 30. If you’re not there yet – it’s probably a good idea to get ahead of it too!
After reading those books and celebrating my 50th birthday, I wrote a post about how I planned to get Younger Next Year. But after that – life got in the way. I wasn’t committed, even though I believed in what I had read.
But last week, a friend I met at PopUp Business School in Colorado tweeted to someone about Younger Next Year. I chimed in about how much I enjoyed the book and how I wanted to work with others who shared an interest in the book. I later learned that the “someone” happened to be Canadian finance guru Jonathan Chevreau. You can learn more about him and the books he has written in this Wealthsimple article. He’s also the CFO of the Financial Independence Hub.
After a few more tweets and a couple of emails, a Younger Next Year 2018 Facebook Group was born! (And I thank my friend “Fred” for not giving up on Twitter one day sooner or this would have never happened!)
It turns out that a lot of people are interested in this book and that building a community around “swimming against the tide of aging” is popular. We already have 85 group members! Great articles are being shared, people are asking each other questions, and connections around fitness goals are being made.
If you want to find out more, check it out and click here. It is an open “global” group with members from Canada, the U.S., Germany, and even New Zealand! You can be as involved as you want – or simply just lurk.
I’m hoping that my involvement with this engaging group of people will keep me focused and help me get “Younger Next Year”. If you haven’t read the book, don’t worry! Over the next month or so, I am going to do a recap of each chapter on the FB page. Hopefully others will chime in too! My friend Fritz over at The Retirement Manifesto also has a great review of Younger Next Year here. He’s an active member in the FB group too!
Just remember that this is a lifestyle change, so it’s not for those who want a quick fix.
Here are the six “rules” they talk about in Younger Next Year:
- Exercise (45 minutes) six days a week for the rest of your life.
- Do serious aerobic exercise four days a week for the rest of your life.
- Do serious strength training, with weights, two days a week for the rest of your life.
- Spend less than you make.
- Quit eating crap!
- Connect and commit.
Now you can see where I got some of my practices* from. But I have a much better path to reach them now – and support from a great group of people.
2018 is my year of being intentional and I’m choosing to put my health before my wealth.
We’ve reached FI and there is no reason to be hyper-focused on that anymore. I won’t quit reading or writing about personal finance, but fitness comes first. I’m also being super picky about the side hustles I agree to take on and their time commitments.
And for those of you writing blogs, I hope you think long and hard about your focus too. Working full-time and adding side hustles to reach FIRE sooner can take a huge toll on your health and your wealth. You might be better off quitting the side hustle and worrying about your cholesterol level, BMI, and a host of other health indicators.
Not addressing your health will cost you money and time as you age. Doctor’s (or specialists) copays, lab tests, prescriptions, physical therapy, and even surgery – you name it. Is all the extra hustle worth risking your health? An early start and focused effort on getting “younger” will hopefully delay long-term care down the road. And if you haven’t looked at those costs – you might want to do that too.
And if you aren’t interested in Younger Next Year – just try to add something to your 2018 reading list that focuses on wellness. Find a blog like Life Zemplified that my friend Amy writes. It’s a great resource to keep you grounded and thinking about your future. Make sure you find what works for you!
I’ll share my #YoungerNextYear progress as the year goes on. I’m also going to add a feature to the blog every few weeks that highlights people I’ve met and the cool things they are doing, in addition to some great articles I have read. Stay tuned for the “Friday Feature” coming next week!
Photo Credit: Peter Skadberg at FreeImages.com