I finished a big project today. Five months of work (albeit only part of my time) has manifested into a 50 page business plan. This is my work. I have loved this project and hated it, but I have brought it to the last stage of editing, and that’s a very turtle-like thing to do.
Still, I can’t help but think, as I look at it, that I might have done the same quality work in five weeks if I had the determination and the stamina. What is the power behind stamina, anyway?
I’ve been going over the rabbit and the hare in my mind, trying to find my inner turtle. I’ve been searching for a vision or a motivator that can keep me on track with my financial goals, and quite frankly, it’s just not happening. The best I’ve come up with is actually pretty mundane:
Make a list of things I want to accomplish every day and hang it on the wall next to my side of the bed. Every night before I go to sleep, I’m bound to glance at it just because it’s so close to my face. If I hang a reminder of my goals in front of my own eyes, I’m pretty sure I’ll take stock of the things on the list.
So, what should go on the list?
In my case, I realized that having a goal to save $100/mo on convenience foods wasn’t working because it was a goal NOT to do something. Instead, I’ve decided to spend no more than $100/mo on convenience foods. This is something I can quantify. My SMART goal really wasn’t very measurable since you can’t easily measure what you don’t do or spend. Wow, last month I didn’t spend $10,000 on a boat. Does that mean I saved $10,000? I don’t even want a boat.
Once I figured out that I want to limit my spending on convenience foods to $100/mo, I could break that down to daily amounts. That gives me a $3/day food allowance (apart from groceries). This is helpful. On Saturday, when I went to Border’s to work for the day, I ordered a small pot of tea to last me a couple of hours. When I got hungry, I looked at the sandwich choices. My $3/day rule came to mind, and I remembered I had already bought tea. I decided to go home for lunch.
Today, when I was packing my daughter’s lunch for school, I also packed my own. At work, when I needed a mental break from spreadsheets and business planning, I made tea in the next room rather than buy it from the cafeteria. This $3/day rule may be a good tool for me. On my bedside list, I think I will put “Daily food spending:” as one line, knowing that my daily average should be $3.
Still, I won’t pay attention to a list like that if it only deals with monetary things. When I was home with my daughter full-time, I came up with a list of things we should do every day. There were 8:
- Spend time with a friend
- Make something beautiful
- Help something grow
- Clean something
- Save something for another time (money, food, etc)
- Spend some time alone
- Exercise your mind
To be honest, I don’t want a list this long facing me every night when I’m trying to unwind, but I do think I can pick the best from the list and create a short list of small things I want to do or contribute to each day. Introspection is certainly one, and benefiting others in some way is another. Spending $3 or less on forgettable things like easy food (with the real goal of providing for my family and myself in the future) is an important part of my personal growth.
MY BEDSIDE CHECKLIST
30 min (or more) yoga ______
Helped something grow________
Connected with a friend ________
Smiled with each person in my home ______
Amount spent on food/coffee $3 or less Y/N ( If N, amt: ________)
1 hr personal, introspective time _______
Impressed myself at work Y/N
I’ll most likely make a spreadsheet that has each item in a list, and the days M T W TH F S Su along the top row. That way, I only have to put a new one up once a week, and I can watch my habits over time, and challenge myself to be my best.
Challenging myself toward personal growth: That’s what gets me in a running mood!