2020: My Year of Focused Motion

 

Happy New Year! Mike and I brought in the New Year as we have the past several years: In the back-country trails of Colorado, on skiis, in the snowy quiet. Brainard Lake was the perfect skin in-skin out location, a trail that was flowy and quiet, where we both could reflect on the beauty around us and the year (and decade) coming to an end. Last year  was an epic one, in every sense, and we accomplished so much – together in our business, and personally (check out my highlights of 2019). 

Happy New Year from the Back Country

When looking back on past years, the goals I’ve made, plans I’ve set up for myself, I realized there were some fundamental faults with them. First, many of my past goals were broad statements, without deadlines or quantifiable metrics around them. (Here are my 2018 Intentions – Here are the 2017 Goals – Here are 2016 Goals) Don’t get me wrong, the previous bars I’ve set have guided me, helped steer me towards greater, albeit a lazy river kind of steering. Yes, I was still moving, but with a broad focus and not really a  sense of urgency. Now, not all of my previous goals have been so lackadaisical, in fact many have been extremely audacious and bold….and I’ve been able to accomplish them! Hell, last year’s financial goals set me on FIRE for a life I get to control, a life that will be full of meaning and purpose.

So this year, with the help of my Money Minded Mavens Financial Group, I’ve gotten very specific with my goals, the why behind them, and the metrics around completing them. I’ve focused on the important areas of my life, the areas I value the most and want to have the most movement. One of the things our group gave as ‘food for thought’ was to think about a word that would help summarize what you want to manifest in the coming year, a word that will motivate and propel. A word that would steer you forward during times of questioning or doubt or lulls, when things aren’t uber exciting.

Having gone through multiple exercises, listening to a number of podcasts around goals, I came up with the following action plan for 2020. Cheers to an amazing year!

My Word: Focused Motion 

Ok, so it’s two words…but I need them both for the big year ahead! Focused motion speaks to how I want to achieve my goals this year. I have huge goals and the only way they’ll be accomplished, is by focusing in on my priorities, high ROI goals, clearing distractions, and moving forward. Many things I want to get done this year require small amounts of planning but will require huge focus in one area. Without focused motion, my plans are just scattered dreams! Anytime I become scattered, or pulled in a different direction, or feel like I’m aimlessly drifting along, I will come back to focused motion and settle back into the rhythm of my goals. Paula Pant says that every choice that you make is a trade off against something else….your time, your energy, your money. This year I want to be extra mindful of where I’m putting my focus. 

Business 

I have three major business goals for Happy Homes, with an action plan that will help me achieve them.

    • Purchase another Rental Property by end of year (2020)
    • Get Zephyr rented by 3/1/2020 
    • Get my real estate license and start setting up my next steps by 5/2020
    • Action plan:
      • Set up a monthly business meeting, where Mike and I sit down and discuss our business, what’s working, what’s not, expenses…you know, all the good stuff.
      • Complete 3 real estate classes a week to complete the 168 hours of classes before taking the real estate exam

Financial Goals

I won’t reveal all of my financial goals (booooring) but I do have a few things I’ve been doing that I’ll carry over into 2020.

  • Continue to track expenses
  • Save an extra $100-$300 a month
  • Action plan:
    • Input spend on the 30th of each month
    • Try to drink less during the week, eat out less, be extremely mindful of where my money goes each month (especially because we have some big plans in the coming months!)

Family 

The past few years, both Mike and I have spent great amounts of time with family and I’d like to spend even more time with our family this year, be mindful of the precious time I get with them.

  • Put together a will by the end of 2020
  • See my family once a month. With my taking real estate classes, adding an extra 12-15 hours of studying to my week, this will be tough, but think it’s important

Fitness 

This area is crucial to my success as there are so many adventures I want to do in the coming years that will require strength, endurance and can-do. That means putting in the work now. Plus, being physical every day helps decompress, focus and keeps me energized.

    • Continue to strength train once a week at least and log  it in Strava 
    • Be outside, active, as much as possible – I know goals should be specific, but this one is built into my DNA, so I’ll use the metrics from last year as benchmarks.
    • Action Plan: Beat my stats from last year & schedule a strength training class once a week. 
      • Last years stats
        • Bike: 225 miles
        • Run: 22 miles 
        • Hiked 148 miles
        • Back Country Skied 30 miles 
        • Walked 123 miles

Mindfulness

Live more meaningful around that which brings me peace and calm. Being mindful of the thoughts and 

      • Do 15 min of yoga a day – track via strava 
      • Journal daily – I created a journal based off of one a girlfriend uses, that prompts questions, has weekly goals, areas to reflect on and celebrate. I started December 31st and I’ve loved it thus far. 
      • Assign a day for myself, to do something new, something that brings me mountains of joy  

Friends & Fun  

This area doesn’t need much work, as the crew I’ve found in Colorado so aligns with my soul, it’s unreal! But, I do have some goals around strengthening these relationships, as there are so many areas my friends and I see eye-to-eye on, I’d like to invite them to be accountability buddies. If you’re interested in this concept, here’s a great podcast about accountability buddies. Some of these goals will need to be implemented in the next quarter of the year, as I’m laser focused on my real estate license right now, but they are on my mind for this year.

      • Get an accountability buddy and schedule time to meet with them.(Some of these are already in place!)
        • Writing/Business work/learning – Aaron 
        • Guitar – Mark, Ryan, Matt  (1X a month) – Wednesdays 
        • Physical – Stacia/Amy – go to Motion Fitness – up my stats from last year 
        • Financial – Money Minded Mavens (1X a month)
        • Romantic – need a date night once a week – with zero tv/something new/romantic we can do together – Puzzles, Walks, make dinner together, ski day/skin, Play in Denver
      • Plan an international trip for my 40th – this is a big one, and there are a ton of places on the list! I’d like to have our plane tickets sorted by May – so the fun of planning can commence!

So, those are the big goals – when I boil them down there are 14 – too many to focus on for this first quarter of the year – so I’m focusing on my business, fitness, family, mindfulness to start the year. Michael Hyatt, a wonderful resource and thought leader around this space, states you shouldn’t have more than 10 goals at a time – it’s just not feasible to concentrate on all of them at once. His advice is to have a goal queue, that when you finish one, you can add another. I think this is a great way to outline when you’ll have the capacity to actually work on what’s most important.

Have any goals this year? Would love to hear about them – and your action plan around completing them!

Cheers to an amazing 2020!

2019 on FIRE

Happy New Year! I’m writing this on January 27th, well into 2019, and have given my New Year Goals and intentions a lot of thought. Last year was a good one, full of trips, adventures, work ups and downs….reflection has happened though, so onto what I want for this year.

Much of what I want to cultivate this year has been inspired by my Money Minded Maven FI group. Huh? Let’s start by chatting about this whole FIRE movement I’ve recently got involved in….

What is FIRE? Financial Independence Retire Early. It sounds like a crazy concept, right? We’ve been taught that you go to college, get a job, maybe move up the corporate ladder in your committed field, upgrade your house, car, gadgets with each wrung of the ladder climbed, and retire when you’re 65. Maybe a bit younger if you aggressively save, contribute to your 401K, have a pension. This concept is outrageous when you stop and do the math. And I have always had a cash-register mind (as in the dollars and cents of living rattle around up there).

There are a sub-set of people out there who don’t buy into this model. And I have been one of them, without really knowing it. Instead of spending all you take home, why not save most of it,  find inexpensive things to do with friends, be mindful of where your money goes (ie. spending it on experiences instead of designer clothes, new cars, more stuff), invest in tax deferred accounts, house hack (or whore out your house as Mike likes to say) and cook most meals in to keep eating costs down. Why do all of this? So you can retire from any traditional type of work and focus on work you love, your passions, travel, whatever you want.

There are a number of people in this movement who have crunched the numbers so hard they’re already there. And by there, I mean financially independent, not having to work the corporate gigs, unless they want, and putting their energy into what they love, living life on their terms, out of debt. And these people have become our teachers. Here are a few people & resources  I’ve been soaking up knowledge from: Mad Fientist, Optimal Living Daily , Paula Pant, The Minimalists, Mr. Money Mustache, Radical Personal Finance & Gretchen Rubin to name just a few.

So how did I come to identify myself with the FIRE crew? Beyond my always being unbelievably frugal, I have some extremely intelligent girlfriends who are like-minded in the sense that we want to empower ourselves and each other to learn more about investing, maxing out our financial gains, diversification, and tips on how to live a more fulfilling life with less. So we started a financial group that dives in to a different topic, podcast episode, book each month, focusing on financial goals and habits you can institute into your own life. We meet virtually to share what’s worked, what we’ve learned, our thoughts on savings, and hare resources. It’s phenomenal and so motivating!

With that context, I’ve thought about my goals for 2019 in these areas: Financial, Personal Goals & Habits

Financial Goals 

  1.  Get a handle on the money coming in & going out – essentially, how much does it really cost to live on a monthly/yearly basis? This took awhile to figure out, gathering tax information, digging into credit card bills, travel expenses, Airbnb income, mortgages, etc. If you’re trying to do the same, I’d recommend setting up a Personal Capital dashboard that lets you see where you’re spending, how your investments are pulling into your net worth and you can even link your homes’ value (which is awesome for Happy Homes!)
  2. Maximize my 401K, tax deferred investments, and savings – I’m all over this as well! I set up time to speak with a personal adviser at Vanguard to understand my investments, map out my retirement goals and work on a strategy to get me there. Having gone through the first exercise of what I actually need to pay my bills/live my life, I was able to see how much more I could be saving. This was by far the most intimidating, as investments have always scared me. Why? Because I didn’t understand them and didn’t take the time to find out. Until now! I have so much to learn here, but taking the first step was huge to get me on my way. And the Money Minded Maven group has fueled me! This stock series is on my list to dive into.
  3. Research things I don’t understand. It’s only confusing because it’s not familiar. With the resources available, there’s no excuse to not be up to speed on what’s happening with my finances.
  4. Get the grocery bills, alcohol, eating out bills under control. This isn’t as glamours, but having done an analysis of what I was spending at the grocery store, on alcohol and eating out, it really opened my eyes. I’m going to make an effort to meal-plan every week, cut back on the booze during the week, and eat out less.
  5. Sell Chase St. The past few months have been a journey in making the best out of a sticky situation (ie. pulling the listing, renting the house short-term to cover the costs & dealing with almost weekly renters). The goal is to sell it this spring – and if it doesn’t sell, we’ll get a long-term renter to ease the burden of flipping, cleaning, worrying if your sh*t head renters are going to trash the place.

Personal Goals & Habits

  1. Stop procrastinating. Be more consistent. This seems to be a common theme for me, often proclaimed at the beginning of the year. But, I’m a tactical person, often driven by outside forces and deadlines, so I’m trying to institute ways to stick to things.
  2. Re-instate the Happy Kitchen Dinner Series. This took flight last year, slowly sputtering out due to lack of commitment from good old’ me. I love cooking. I love spending time with my friends. I am constantly planning menus in my head. So why haven’t I done anything more with this!? See the first personal goal….
  3. Cut back on the alcohol. This could fit under all of the categories, as it will have an impact in each category. I like my craft beer and that comes with a price tag, so cutting back will help the wallet. Personally, I feel the best when I wake up without having had any booze the night before. And the kind of person I want to be happens when I’m alert and focused, not foggy and lazy. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy my good beer & wine and will continue to do so when it means I’m socializing with friends or celebrating a special occasion. I’m just taking a mindful look at when I drink and prioritizing the goals around it.
  4. Spend more time on activities that move me forward, towards my goals. The Money Minded Maven’s are focusing on habits this month, so I’ve thought a lot about what I’m committing energy to because those are the things that become a priority. What’s helped me here is outlining my priorities, then making sure my habits and actions line up accordingly. It’s one thing to say you’d like to do yoga everyday…..it’s another if you turn the tv on a night, having not done any.
  5. Watch less tv. The average American spends 4 hours a day watching tv. Insane! I have a bad habit of turning the tv on at night when I’m cooking, to decompress after an over-stimulated work day. But then it will remain on through dinner, post dinner and right up until we go to bed. No bueno, especially with the list of things I could be doing that would benefit me in some way.
  6. Get up and move. I’m a morning person and feel amazing when I incorporate movement first thing in the morning, so vow to make a consistent effort to get up and get moving. Whether that means morning yoga, or a sunrise walk or slow jog, I’ve done this inconsistently over the years, and really do feel amazing if I keep it up.
  7. Network more. With friends, with like-minded people, with opportunities. I want to make a point to say yes to things that open my mind, that put me out of my comfort zone, that lend value. I have so many amazing people in my network and want to make the effort to connect with them more often.

 

These are my goals for 2019 – a bit different than past years, more financially focused I’d say, but also aimed at living a more meaningful and mindful life. Hope you’re having a wonderful start to the year and I’d love to hear any goals or habits that you’re working on!

 

Cheers!

 

 

Re-Think, Re-Build & Re-Align – Reflections of 2018

This year has flown by so fast it’s been hard to recall what has happened, so much so that I found myself scrolling through pictures to jog my memory. And holy cow it’s been  marathon of a year! Personally, professionally, financially, socially, internationally…..every realm of life got majorly massaged by the events of 2018.

I’m writing this with a few precious days left in the year, having recalled most of the events on a plane ride in early December & am wrapping it up on the eve of my dad vising for the annual Nutcracker ballet my niece is in. This year has been much like this piece meal of a blog post – taking things as they come, sometimes with patience, often day by day, handling things with what I like to think as a practical mindset. I’ve had to rethink a lot of things, readjusting how I react and take things in. It was a year of rebuilding and realigning (or trying to!)  A few key phrases come to mind when recalling the year:

Do not stress about things you can not control.

If you make smart decisions and are willing to work your ass off, you will most likely, eventually, figure it out.

Healthy is the most important thing and having a healthy mind is as important as a healthy body.

Work life balance is essential and if you don’t have it, seek it out.

You must put in the work to get the desired outcome.

And so, I look back on 2018….in preparation for 2019….

January started with a whirlwind – three work trips (to PA for a Market Manager regroup, then to Atlanta for a Care Coordination Summit, then to Irvine for a messaging workshop). Our ski condo was in full force as well (after a slow start to the winter, thinking we wouldn’t get a condo cause there weren’t any reasonably priced we could find, then the property management company letting us know they were holding it for us….whhhhaaaa??), so weekends were spent with the gang.

We even had a January girls’ ski weekend while the dirty boys went to Jackson Hole.

February opened with an amazing trip down to Telluride with the Downingtown crew – the first time Mike and I had visited the amazing town. Unfortunately, the snow wasn’t cooperative and the mountain wasn’t as lush with snow as we would have liked (although I was only 9 months post ACL surgery, so it was definitely a recovery year)…

…but we did get to witness an Eagles Superbowl, so pretty amazing trip!

March came in like a lion, with work trips to Vegas for the HIMSS tradeshow, a work trip to Philadelphia at the end of March for an all hands Marketing meeting (that landed us in a blizzard!). I also put for an #eatplants challenge – where I posted recipes, tips on living the plant-based lifestyle. Our investment property, Chase St, finally started to move, with foundation work, reinforcement for the second story (we were adding 1,000 square feet to the existing footprint!) and demo city.

Dad came to visit, visiting the investment property carnage, and we went to Hops & Handrails, a craft beer/heady snowboarding/skiing event in Longmont – very Coloradical.

St. Patty’s Day came and to Aspen we went! Green mimosas, shot skis and Apres was enjoyed by all! Climbing up to the Highland Bowl was a highlight for sure!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April arrived with new birth, literally, and we headed to Charleston to visit our beautiful niece Charlotte Michael in Charleston. I ended up cooking lots of plant-based goodness for the family to enjoy during our stay and beyond.

Chase St really started coming together – and we saw the second story, stairs, a roof, siding, and windows went up and on our investment property. The progress was amazing, with Mike working his beard off.

 

Our ski gang headed to the Skinner hut for a backcountry ski weekend extravaganza – that ended up being a weekend we all won’t ever forget. We all experienced sweat, tears, fear, joy, laughter and breathtaking beauty. An amazing adventure.

Mid-April carried me to Nashville for some more work travel, to Nashville, and I was able to spend some time with my team and actually see my fabulous cousin and her baby Max.

May brought more work travel, with a trip to palm beach for our National Sales Meeting. A trip to Canon City kicked off summer – with mountain biking, fireside chats, friends and sunsets. The best way to kick off summer, really.

Sideing, stucco, installation, electric and yard work happened at Chase and the house was really coming along!

And then it was summer! June was full of concerts (Beet Box & Mottet and Avette Brothers at Red Rocks) LCUG (our Large Client User Group meeting in Chicago) and Telluride Bluegrass Festival – the most amazing Colorado weekend I’ve had to date!

Our professional gig was moving right along as well…The interior of our investment property came together with drywall going up, tile going down, and floors being laid. It was really amazing to see the progress once things were rockin’ & rollin!

 

 

 

 

 

Our garden was also in full swing and summer evenings were often spent on our beautiful patio, al fresco, with friends, good food and beautiful Colorado sunsets.

In July, we headed to our beloved Maine with the family – eating lobster, enjoying sunsets, swimming in Castco Bay and enjoying the way life should be…..simple and beautiful. It made us realize how much this beloved island, that had been in my blood, in my family for almost 100 years, meant to us and we vowed to make it up every year.

We spent many nights and weekends plugging along at the investment property, laying tile, picking out granite, putting together the kitchen, cleaning out basements, wood scraps, and being Mike’s helper.

Biking in Breckenridge was a July highlight – where the Peak Trail carried us flowingly through the mountains and we finished the weekend on the Green Mountain Reservoir.

A huge group of us hunkered down, floated in tubes, and enjoyed the Colorado beauty we were lucky enough to experience every weekend. And finally our Conshy house got a new tenant – so we had to go through the process of signing eases, coordinating credit checks, and managing house tours. Thank goodness for Mike’s Mom – who before moving to Charleston was able to help with all logistics!

In August, we put the final touches on our investment property, staged it, and put it on the market! This project, this amazing creation Mike had orchestrated, that we both had poured our hearts, souls, blood, sweat, tears, money (and money, and money) into…..had turned out to be the most pivotal experience, both professionally, emotionally, and personally, of my life. Never has a project taught me so much, thrown so much at me, tested us in so many ways. As I reflect on the accomplishment, the sheer beauty of the past year of work that went into making this what it is today, I am overwhelmed with emotion. It is hard to put the experience into words, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  A work trip brought me to Atlanta, and I was lucky enough to have the chance to bring my mom! My uncle, her brother, lives in Atlanta so we were able to see cousins and spend some quality time with our southern family.

The end of August was filled with mountain biking and celebration. Our gang flooded Poudre Canyon, of which we had visited last summer, to celebrate a 40th birthday.

The Mishawaka held a Nahko & the Medicine People concert, we soaked our feet in the beautiful river, and biked a wicked hard trail (that was absolutely gorgeous!). A wonderful way to officially close out summer.

September we celebrated! Celebrating our two year wedding anniversary in true Colorado fashion, we hiked and drank good beer, enjoying the life we had made together, the simplicity and beauty of where we are and how we got here. Mike also turned 40 – and after a quick work trip to Sand Diego (a marketing leadership meeting) we celebrated in true Colorado fashion…..good beer, a Chuggers show (a band of myself and two buddies….we are three Colorado misfits, who rock hard, and chug harder), and lots of Mike Smith stories.

 

His mom and sister even came out with the babies – and we got to enjoy some time in the mountains, zoo, and local flavor.

More biking (Alderfer/Three sisters), hiking & a trip to Steamboat, where our bike gang kicked ass and took names while peeping’ the Aspens’ fall beauty.

One of the major highlights of the year happened in October: Our trip to Portugal! I won’t go into much detail (because I did blog almost daily) but the trip was amazing and truly was one of the best trips we have been on! 10 days of amazing food, hiking, history, culture, weather, beaches, kayaking, relaxing.

We came back refreshed and ready to make some hard decisions on our investment property. August & September hadn’t brought much activity, so we decided to pull the listing, outfit the home with bought furniture, and short term rent it on Airbnb to cover our costs. Wanting to get the most bang for our buck (and cover the overhead costs that we had!) we decided to rent our house for short term rental at the same time. A stressful few weeks of preparing both homes for rent…..but another decision that moved our business, Happy Homes, Ltd, forward. We spent our first night at the investment property, living there as our home had rented for the weekend, and we were off to the short-term-rental races!

A few girlfriends of mine also started a hiking club, where we’d go out once a week and hike a local trail, in addition to a Money Minded Mavens group – where we discussed the path to Financial Freedom, opened up the floor to what we want to achieve in life, and share resources, podcasts and articles on how to get there. A whole new crew to share my extraordinarily frugal mindset and opinions with!

And holy cow, there’s only two more months in 2018! November arrived and so did my 38th birthday. I decided I wanted a bike gang birthday…..of which friends would hop on their bikes, go from bar to bar together drinking craft beer, and end the night with a Beetles cover band. On my actual birthday, I also hiked with my girls’ hiking club (a once a week hike all over the front range) and ended at one of my favorite breweries, New Terrain. Both events were amazing – full of some of the best friends’, doing my favorite things – truly one of the best birthdays ever. Mid-November brought me back to Nashville, where our annual User Group Meeting was held. A few events at the conference set off a domino effect that has ultimately added multitudes of stress, change, and has forced hard decisions to be considered. Thank goodness I live in a place with a beautiful escape….and the early snow allowed for a pre-thanksgiving weekend skiing in the mountains.

Thanksgiving came at the exact perfect time – a reset in gratitude, family gatherings, a remembrance of what is truly important in life….health, family, nature, giving, love and being present.  A pre-gathering hike, gender reveal party, and a plant-based feast allowed for a wonderful holiday.The enormous amount of anxiety, change, and re-alignment that my professional life has undergone has caused restless nights, a kidney infection (partially my own fault for ignoring and pushing off the symptoms due to the amount of work I felt I needed to prioritize over making an appointment to check-in on my health) and a few breakdowns. A month of lessons for sure – it’s truly made me re-evaluate things.

The last month of the year is almost over….and there is no slowing down in sight. My 4th annual Plant-Based Soup Swap finally happened – a bit later in the year then normal, but still the most successful yet! There were 10 beautiful souls gathered with homemade soup to share….a hit for sure! I headed to PA for a Market Manager – Solution team meeting, where more changes, workload shifts, and priorities have surfaced. Dusty had an ugly sweater Christmas Party, which put us in the holiday mood, and we skied and skinned our hearts out in Mary Jane and Dry Gulch (I’ve already hit the slopes 7 times!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Later this month we head to South Carolina to celebrate Christmas with Mike’s family and I’m truly looking forward to spending time with family, re-charging, and setting intentions for the coming year.  I have a list of items I hope to accomplish during this time that will propel me forward, into the new I am thankful for all the beautiful friends, events, travel, new experiences, hardships, struggles, lessons and love that 2018 has had. I’ve traditionally looked forward in past blogs (here is my 2017 post and 2016 post ) but I’m not exactly ready to do so yet. I need to be intentional about what I want in 2019, realistic. Set SMART goals that I have thought through, have check-points in place to hold myself accountable to. Set up a plan, and a timetable on where I want to be and when. I have this on my Christmas list.

Cheers to the end of the year – a good one indeed – and let 2019 be absolutely amazing…..more to come on my intentions!

And DANG I Traveled A Lot!

Telluride (twice actually, in February and June!)
Vegas (March)
Philadelphia (4 trips!)
Aspen
Charleston
April
Palm Beach FLA
Chicago
Maine
San Diego
Steamboat (for MTB)
Portugal