Savings: The Game

The best financial advice I received upon graduating college: always have enough cash in savings to survive for at least six months without income. I took that advice with a vengeance. Savings not only provide you with a security blanket, they award you the confidence and flexibility to make major life changes. The risks of quitting a job, changing cities, moving into a new place, taking on a life partner, and having children are dampened by the relative stability of an earned allowance. I would not have felt comfortable quitting my job, leaving Hollywood, and moving to Denver without the cash buffer I built since graduating.

Yes, savings are difficult to accrue. It takes discipline, commitment, and a passion to see numbers grow. I treat my savings like a game: I want to get the high score. With online banking, it’s easier than ever to convince yourself  those numbers are points on a leader board. Have fun with it and take pleasure knowing your high score means something real.

If you are living paycheck to paycheck, you need to find a way to make more money or live cheaper. And who really wants to live cheaper? Negotiate a raise, yo! But we’ll save that conversation for another time.

On the Road Again

I’ve packed for 12 hours today and will leave at midnight to make the 1,033 mile journey back to Denver for the last time (at least for a while, if not forever). A nasty snow storm awaits my return; it will be an interesting journey.

The next time you move, I encourage you to do as I have done: lighten the load. Sifting through the things I accumulated over the years was a nostalgic experience, but it was equally relieving to leave a lot behind. It’s time for me to move on, optimize, and focus. Donating, recycling, and gifting the unnecessaries will help you move forward.

Wish me a safe trip. With any luck, the next post will declare my arrival.

Managing Your Fears

“You cannot erase your fears, you can only manage them.” A rock climbing guide taught me this over the weekend and it stuck to the bone. No, you cannot ignore or forget fears to make them go away. You cannot erase the past. But you can build a better understanding of your fears and learn to manage them. If you truly appreciate all the reasons why you fear in the first place, you can start to dissect each reason and face them individually. By managing each aspect of your fear at a time and taking everything step by step, you can slowly build confidence toward a greater whole. Before long, you can trust yourself to unravel complex fears and deal with the sum of their parts.

As I child, I feared heights. I was well aware of this fear and jealous of my friends who were not afraid. I made a goal at age 11 to climb a full gym wall in front of everyone; I never did. Over the years, my understanding of physics and my faith in probability allowed me to enjoy theme park and hot air balloon rides (I remind myself that millions of people have ridden before and never suffered the fate of heights). But I never scaled to more than 20 feet on my own before this weekend. In Joshua Tree, I finally managed my fear and had a blast climbing a 5.7 grade rock face (I believe it was nearly 80 feet tall). If you have never climbed before, do it.

Get Dirty

Remember when you were young and you liked playing in the sand? It used to be fun to get dirty. Where did that go? What happened to that childhood passion for adventure, play, and discovery?

Why not get dirty now? Dive into something you’ve never done before. You do not have to cover yourself in sand to learn about how the world works, but you do need to take chances outside your element. Make it a game, use your imagination. Love learning again. Love adventure again. Get dirty and have fun.

Out of Your Element

Want to see your world in a new light? Approach your issues from a fresh perspective? Then consider stepping outside your comfort zone. Travel to a place you’ve never been before. Do something you’ve never done before. Hike a glacier. Eat vegemite. Go camping. Do Yoga. Live life. Breaking from your element can reboot the system, teach you something about yourself, and contextualize your everyday concerns within the greater context of the world around you. Heightened perspective herein can unlock inspiration and passion you never knew existed. Stepping outside your element, if even for a moment, could change your life forever.