Last year a buddy of mine was severely stressed out. He was in-between jobs, was 30 days behind on his union dues, was stressing out over the 35k in credit card debt he and his wife accrued a few years back when he was out of work for a while and telling me how tired he was of working and not getting paid for overtime. At one point he didn’t even have the money to go out and get a decent list of groceries. He was also worried that he didn’t have a savings account or retirement account set up and he was approaching 50. He wanted to get in shape. He wanted to be less stressed out.
I felt for him. That kind of stress is hell. As an Xmas gift, I paid his dues so he wouldn’t have to stress about losing union membership and having to raise another 3 k to get back in. He got through the holidays and in the beginning of the year has been pretty much employed (give and take a week here or there for unemployment).
Now, close to 10 months later, he has financed a Harley, received a credit card where he immediately charged 50% of the limit, spent a lot of money of stuff related to his Harley, bought an expensive road bike, brand new 60 inch TV and many other expenditures. No retirement account, no savings set aside, ( his wife took out a loan off her 401K to pay off a credit card- ‘borrowing from Paul to pay Peter’) and he actually weighs more now than last year (from all the drinking). The two days off he has for the weekend are spent drinking heavily and then trying to sober up for the upcoming work week.
And he’s still stressed out. In fact, his times of happiness are short lived. And he knows that if he loses his current job, he’s back to square one.
He is still my buddy. I am not judging him. But I am observing something that many people are guilty of, especially myself.
Not living in harmony with your desired goals.
This is the biggest mistake people make. If you want to lose fat, then you have to act congruent with your desire to look better and be healthier. You have to create a caloric deficit, eat nutrient rich foods and exercise on an empty stomach so as to get the body to go to the fat stores for energy. You will not get the desired outcome by continuing to live the way you have. If it was working for you then you wouldn’t desire change in the first place!
Many people major in minor things. They forget the fundamentals they need to follow in order to effect change. They want to get fit, so they run out, buy all kinds of supplements, hire a trainer, get a gym membership, buy workout clothes and so on and so forth.
All they have to concentrate on is the basics. These will provide the greatest amount of return- consume less processed food, move more. That’s it.
You want to be a better golfer? Would it make sense to focus on the fundamentals rather than the minor things? To be a better golfer you need to hit the ball straight and putt well. That’s it. Get to the green and putt well. All the other shit they tell you to focus on is low yield minor stuff. Hit the ball straight and putt well. You are not a scratch golfer trying to make Q school; you just want to enjoy the game of golf more. To do that, focus on the fundamentals.
You want more money? Learn a new language? Have a better quality relationship? Focus on the fundamentals. Lower your expenses, spend 30 minutes a day learning the fundamental words in the language you are studying, stop dating chicks you find only in bars.
I recently realized that I had a bank account that was costing me $300 a year to keep open when I had just opened an online account that cost me nothing (no minimum balance required and no fees). I was paying $300 for the “privilege” of walking into a bank AND not maintaining a $3,500 balance in the checking account.
Since my goal is to save more of my money, it would make sense to move my money to the free account and save that yearly expense. That is being congruent.
If my goal is to find a healthy relationship, it makes sense to find someone who 1) respects herself and others 2) has a healthy relationship with her family 3) is honest with herself and others and 4) has a belief system that is close to mine. Taking action in that regard is congruent with my stated goal.
When you find yourself stuck, ask yourself, “Is what I’m doing congruent with what I want to achieve?” More often than not, you find yourself doing things that are not in harmony with the goal. Write down on paper your goal and work backwards. Write down the steps to achieve it. Keep it simple, don’t over complicate things.
I also realized that I could have been more aggressive in my savings this year. So, I will double the amount of my automatic savings withdrawals. My costs are low; no need to go lower AND I’m saving that $300 I’ve been spending for each of the last 5 years. That’s it. Keep it simple, stupid.
You will realize that by finding the fundamentals and acting in harmony alongside them will give you better results in the long run.