5 Things to do instead of Complaining

There’s been a lot on my plate lately – professional changes, things not going exactly as planned, needing to pivot and scrap plans without much notice, hard decisions having to be made with which direction to head in.  But even as I type this out, the voice inside my head says very calmly, “that’s life, that’s work.” And isn’t it true? Whether you horribly love your current situation or currently despise it, there will always be ups and downs, things to complain about, obsess over, stress about. If you let things build up and don’t take action.

Hear me out….this isn’t a unicorn and rainbows rant about loving wherever you are in the journey and seeing the good in every situation. Ok, maybe it is, but here’s what I would suggest instead of festering over it, complaining incessantly about it or worse, letting it take over your life. Take action on it. Make a plan to conquer the complaints with concrete steps forward. And be honest with yourself about these things. Often times I’ll think, well I’m just venting…only to catch myself talking about the same thing over and over in my head, to a friend or Mike (who will call me on it every time). I’ve come to the realization over the past few years that being honest with yourself about the items you’re mulling over is really the first step – and once you’re there you can take action. Sounds so easy in theory…I’m saying this mostly to myself, who has felt lost a bit lately, overwhelmed and anxious in some of my current situations. Here’s what I’d suggest you do (and what I am in the process of doing):

  1. Write them down. Think about all of the concrete things in your current situation that are getting on your last nerve. List them out on a notepad, in a column or spreadsheet. Getting them out of your head, in black and white will often stop the swirl and allow you to see them as actual things to be dealt with, as opposed to concepts that you keep brushing aside.
  2. Solution brainstorming. Once you have your list of complaints, think about solutions; real, tactical things you can do to improve the situation. Example: Problem: It’s so loud in my workspace, I can’t get any work done! Solutions to Try: Bring in headphones to listen to music, move your space (if possible), have an actual conversation with your co-workers about the noise. MIND BLOWN!
  3. Begin each day with gratitude. Last year I read the book The Power of Less by Leo Babauta that spoke about bringing a gratitude practice into your day. When I sit down in the morning and write out three things I’m grateful for, my thoughts are now pointed on a positive trajectory. It’s such a simple exercise that has immediate and lasting impact.
  4. Get outside. When I’m in a yuck mood, or just spinning in the same direction over the same problem, I literally need to get outside as soon as possible to be in the open. Movement allows stagnant energy to get shaken up. While this may not solve any problems, it puts my headspace in the right place to handle the situation calmly and often will give me a new perspective.
  5. Remove yourself from the situation. Let’s be honest, sometimes the one thing you can do to improve a situation is to leave it. Knowing when this point has been reached can be tricky.  A few signs I’ve come to recognize include losing sleep, self-doubt, and arriving at the same unpleasant outcome, despite different approaches. This step can seem like giving up, especially if you don’t have a post-situation plan. I’d caution that getting to this step should be work; you have given a valiant effort towards making things work, they haven’t, so you have made steadfast steps to improve your situation by moving on.

 

Hope these steps are useful – I have to remind myself of them every now and then!

Happy Action to You!

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!

 

 

Travel Happy: Packing for Portugal

Portugal is calling! We head to the oldest country in Europe, this Thursday October 11th for a ten day trip. I’m much more of a planner than Mike, so I took the weekend to organize our Itinerary and pack. Here again, Mike and I have two very different philosophies: Mike will wait till the night beforehand to pack a bag he wants to check…and I will spend a few hours, several days before I leave, to pack meticulously, in a bag I can carry on the plane, so the airline doesn’t loose my luggage.

When we decided to take this trip, we settled on October due to the off-season weather (it will be mid-seventies) and the minimal crowds (Europe in the summer is hot and crowded!). When deciding what I actually need on this trip, I took into account our activities, the forecast, and wanting to pack as light as possible. The coastal hiking in Portugal looks amazing, so hiking is high on our list of things we’ll be doing, along with kayaking and SUPing. The amount of historical sites, the castles, monetarists, wineries, and old villages are endless, overwhelming even! With the amount of walking we’ll be doing just sightseeing (we’re not renting a car for the first few days) on the gorgeous cobblestone streets, I feel comfortable flats and layers will be the perfect combo. So, I thought I’d write about how I’m tackling the packing for the wonderful adventure we’re about to embark on.

Packing fora trip to Portugal in the Fall (10 days total)

Tip: Pick a color theme, two or three staple colors you’ll coordinate all outfits around. Mine: Navy Blue, Grey & White/Tan

  1.  Yoga Pants (3 pairs) – I have pretty colorful yoga pants so I’m planning to dress them up a bit on the days I need to wear them to tour around. Portugal people are stylish, so walking around looking like a sloppy American tourist will not do!
  2. Linen pants (1 pair) – I am not a jeans girl, but understand I need a nicer pair of leg warmers as the fall in Portugal is a bit cooler at night (we’ll be on the coast a lot and plan to do water activities: kayak, SUP, charter a boat). These linen pants will be perfect boat attire.
  3.  Hiking/Active tops (2 tank tops -Wika/flexible/breathable & 1 long sleeve base layer) – these are clutch for an active day. We plan to hike part of the Fishermen’s Trail near the southern coast of Portugal (in the Algarve area of Portugal) and be outside as much as possible, so these will most likely be worn multiple times. Because we’ll be close to the ocean (and the weather looks a bit gloomy on some days) I thought the long sleeve would come in handy for layering. I can also wear this over or under the dresses I brought for a dress up look.
  4. Dresses (4) – I am a dress wear-er for sure. And while you’re traveling, these are so easy and versatile to throw on and pack! All the dresses I’m bringing can be dressed up or down depending on what I layer with.
  5. Casual-dressy tops (1) – This will be worn on days when we’re touring and need to look dressier, but not formal. The white, flowy top can be worn with yoga pants or my linen pants for a dressier pants look.
  6. Sweaters/Long sleeves (3) – Knowing the weather, I wanted to pack lighter sweaters to layer on top of dresses especially. I have a navy blue and white stripe shirt, a grey & navy blue sweater.
  7. Jackets (4) – This is tricky, because I didn’t necessarily want to bring four, seems down right gluttonous! But, it may rain a bit while there – so there’s a rain jacket. It’s a dressier atmosphere and may be chilly at night – navy blue sports jacket.  A hooded puffy – for hiking so will have this in my camel back bag and leave it in there. My jean jacket – a staple and I will wear this on the plane.
  8. Shoes (4) – Here again, 4 pairs of shoes seems insane to me -for a ten day trip!? Well, we want to hike the coast – need hiking shoes – it may rain a bit, which won’t stop us from going out – so ya need boots – Some days may be sunny and nice – so flip flops -and the night time on cobblestone streets call for flats. And there ya go.
  9. Scarfs (3) – I’v traveled quite a bit in my day – Africa, Turkey, Belgium, Vieques, Amsterdam, Ireland, Italy, Belize – and the European style of dress always impresses me. And one of the best accessories and items to pack are scarfs. I am bringing a black, a navy blue and a grey scarf to add to my outfits, layer when it’s cooler, and dress up my yoga pants.

I’m so looking forward to exploring this beautiful country – and maybe even look a bit stylish while adventuring.

Cheers to our Happy Adventure!