The big picture and saving your sanity

It's all in your head

 

Inevitably, we all go through periods in our lives where we are simply stretched thin.  You know what I’m talking about, you have 50 things that MUST get done this week and you’re only going to get half of them done.   Sometimes we do this to ourselves (like a bunch of jerks), but sometimes the universe just has plans for us that we have no control over.   I am currently spread pretty thin (mostly by my own doing), and I’m here to offer you some ideas for keeping your sanity intact the next time you find yourself with too much to do and too little time.

First of all, you have to focus on the big picture.  Really.  Close your eyes and spend a few minutes imagining what it will be like when you are done with all the things that are currently on your plate.  Think about all the benefits.  Maybe you are remodeling a house and you will have a nicer living space.  Maybe you are finishing a degree and you will get a raise/promotion/good job.  Maybe you are hosting for the holidays and you will get many wonderful memories.  Spend some time thinking concretely about every good thing that will happen because you are spread so thin right now.

Thinking like this helps me put things into perspective.  Sure I might be running around like a chicken with my head cut off NOW, but sometime relatively soon I will have a whole host of new wonderful things in my life.  Concentrating on those wonderful things makes hectic days seem a lot more manageable.

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I maxed out my Roth IRA last year!

IRA

I told you this picture would be back!  As you know, I focus on writing about happiness on this blog.  In general, I try to focus on three big ideas: financial security/frugality, health, and personal relationships.  As you can probably guess from the title, this post is about the first of these.  You might recall that I recently wrote an article about how I think it is a good idea to max out a Roth IRA before you turn 30.  I also wrote an article back in August where I said that I wanted to max out my IRA by tax day this year (just fyi, the maximum annual contribution is $5500 right now).  Well I put the final $500 into my IRA this month, officially maxing it out for the 2013 tax year.

I’m pretty pumped up about this.  When I was about 22-23 I told myself that I would have an IRA started by 25.  That didn’t happen.  I ended up opening one late in 2012 when I was 27.  I didn’t put that much into it that year, but I made it a serious goal to contribute the full $5500 in 2013.  Here’s the breakdown of how much I contributed each month:

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Make Yourself Happier by Building Some Shit (like a headboard)

DSCF0886 (1024x768)

Yeah, tools… yeah.

This post is about getting off your ass and building something.  There is a very real sense of accomplishment that comes from building something with your own two hands.  And it’s a type of satisfaction that is hard to get in any other way.

For centuries (actually millennia), if you wanted something you had to build it yourself.   We didn’t always have mass-produced everything.  You want a house/shelter?  You want a tool?  You want a chair?  Then you better build that shit.

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I’m back!

After several weeks without a post, I am writing to let you know I will be trying to get back to regular writing.  In short, I haven’t been writing due to the following:

  • The holidays and lots of travel
  • Me AND my fiancee are looking for jobs right now and it’s taking up a lot of our free time
  • I’m getting married in April and there is a lot of planning/calling around to be done

That being said, I will try to post at least once a month for the next few months.  Gotta give the people what they want!

Look for a post in the next few days about getting your hands dirty and building some shit.  That’s all for now, but posts are on the horizon.

Did you miss me?

Once Upon a Time Syndrome

Rainbow Castle

The best castle anywhere… ever.

There was probably a time in your past that you fantasized about being exactly where you are now.  Isn’t that strange?  At least in the West, us human beings have a bad habit of spending a lot of time focused on our future and our past, and not nearly enough time just enjoying the present.  The thing is, the future never looks exactly like you planned, and the past is unreachable and, as a result, we often romanticize it.

Stop and think for a moment, can you remember a time in your past that you wanted to be where you are today?  Maybe when you couldn’t wait to `grow up,’ or you couldn’t wait to be done with school, or you couldn’t wait until you got your first job, got married, or bought a house.

Think about that.  As children we are much better at living in the moment, and yet we still spend some of our precious youth fantasizing about how great it will be when we’re older.   This happens, even though life is as simple and enjoyable as a child as it ever will be.  And now you’re all grown up (presumably) and have some or all of those things you wanted, and what are you doing?  Are you living in the present and enjoying your accomplishments?

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Why You Should Max Out a Roth IRA Before You’re 30

IRA

This is you giving money to your future self.

Financial security ranks in my top three for long-term happiness (the other two are personal relationships and health).  Simply put, it’s hard to enjoy life if you are constantly worrying about how to make ends meet.

To that end, this post is about an easy way that you can give your future self a small financial security blanket (see what I did there… SECURITY blanket… like stocks and bonds… I know I’m terrible).

There are a million posts on a million blogs about why you should be saving for retirement.  And just FYI, they’re all right.  You SHOULD be saving for retirement unless you’re already retired (or have a ton of bad debt).

In this post I’ll point out the hypothetical future gains of maxing out a Roth IRA just once before you turn 30.  Since the max annual contribution in 2013 is $5500 if you’re under 50, that’s the number I’ll be using today.

I decided to go with a Roth in this example because it makes the gains simpler to wrap your head around.  You don’t have to figure out how much it will be post-tax because it’s already post-tax.

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