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Happy Friday, readers! The fact that you are reading this post means I have survived the first few days of school. The first few weeks are always a whirlwind of excitement and chaos for students and teachers, but they are fun, as well.
While I ease back into the school year and keep a pretty full slate with my side hustles, I am happy to host yet another excellent guest post. Today’s piece comes from the one and only Mr. AE at Apathy Ends. If you haven’t checked out his site, I recommend you do so today. You can also follow Apathy Ends on Twitter and Pinterest.
Take it away, Mr. AE!
As you wade through life you move from the bottom of the ladder to the top. The kicker is, you are only on top long enough to enjoy the move for a brief spell before tumbling back to earth and starting from the bottom again.
The typical cycle looks something like this:
Freshman -> Senior ->Freshman -> Senior -> Entry Level Job -> Senior -> New Title -> Senior New Title
The last two iterations can go on for 40-45 years; that sounds exhausting.
We have decided to break the above cycle and are pushing our way to the top of ladder, but plan on staying there for the majority of our adult life. Putting job titles, income, awards and acknowledgments in a bin labeled “crap I don’t care about” is the dream.
I don’t plan on looking back and saying “I was the Senior Master VP of Made Up Job at POS Corporation for 15 years.” I want to say “From this day forward, we will make our own decisions.”
To do this effectively, we need to be Financially Independent. Those words may mean different things to every one, but to me, they mean – Money does not dictate our decisions, we are not dependent on work to fund our lifestyle.
The irony is to accomplish this feat you need to be on your A game in many different areas, and unfortunately a traditional job is the vehicle of choice for most of us. Even though I do not enjoy my job, making more money is the fastest way for us to accomplish our goals. I am going to outline some skills that have increased our salary, cut our spending and paved the way for happiness.
Some Skills to Help you on Your Path
Be a problem solver, not a problem avoider, or worse a problem creator.
Remember that the easiest solution/method might be the right one. Organizations tend to overthink simple procedures and processes and make them way more difficult than they need to be. Install simplicity whenever possible.
Bring a solution to every problem you identify. I can’t emphasize enough how huge this is for your career and personal relationships. Employers don’t promote people that point out issues and don’t think about potential solutions. Effort will not got unnoticed and it is OK to be dead wrong occasionally.
The majority of my peers are Millennials, and critical thinking is not a widely used skill in our generation. Its not that we don’t posses the intelligence, it’s that we want to be told the answer now. This is a downside of the information age, we don’t take time to set out our options and weigh them against each other or potential outcomes.
Use fact or probability based evidence to support your outcomes whenever possible.
Learn To Live With Less
I know first hand how much “stuff” can start to clutter up a home. We went through a Decluttering Challenge and got rid of over 231 items that we simply did not need.
- Hobby Equipment – Is there a pile of sports equipment in the garage going unused?
- Square Footage – Have 3 of your 5 bedrooms turned into a glorified storage container?
An interesting thing happens when you rid your house of a bunch of stuff that cost money at one time. Whenever you go to buy something, your brain visualizes everything you got rid of and you second guess your purchases.
Seek Happiness – Destroy Stress
Money is a contributor to stress, the longer it goes unmanaged the deeper the hole you have to eventually dig out of.
One of the most ironic things I have observed is people will spend money on things that don’t make them happy and compound money stress by having less of it.
Try flipping the equation to only spending money on things that TRULY make you happy. It can be anything, I like craft beer, good food and a day on the lake. That means I cut out fast food lunches at work to eat 2-3 good meals at a new restaurant and a 12 pack of craft beer in the fridge at all times.
Don’t Care What Other People Think
Excluding your significant other and family/friends (I go back and forth on them some days) don’t waste time caring what other people think of your decisions. It is not a productive use of your time, energy or brain power.
Do what makes sense for your family and your goals. Don’t feel pressure to spend time or money on anything you are not interested in.
There are a lot of things working against you and you may be working against yourself just as hard. You need to manage your money, time and resources effectively to get on top of the ladder for the long haul.
Take some time to separate what brings you joy and strategically cut out the rest. I don’t like Big Bang events, avoid cutting everything in one day. Spread it out over a few months and make sure your changes take hold.
Thanks for hosting today Mr. Superhero!
Thanks again to Mr. AE for his willingness to share a guest post, and be sure to check out Apathy Ends!
[email protected] Smarter Decisions saysAugust 19, 2016 at 5:58 AM
I love this line – “Bring a solution to every problem you identify.” At my school, we were trained in “solution-focused thinking” and it created a real shift in mindset for people. We got rid of “problem-solving” and “sought solutions” instead. Just those words put you on a positive track! Nice post!
Hero saysAugust 19, 2016 at 10:11 AM
I really like that mindset, Vicki. One of the most frustrating aspects of my stint in administration last year was the “Individual Problem Solving” process we used. Conceptually, I much prefer the solution seeking paradigm you shared.
FinanciaLibre saysAugust 19, 2016 at 8:06 AM
Right on, AE: “Remember that the easiest solution/method might be the right one.”
Occam’s Razor has worked out pretty well for us all over the years. But it’s amazing how often the principle is forgotten or eschewed in favor of complexity.
Nice post, and great messages. Thanks!
Hero saysAugust 19, 2016 at 10:14 AM
I’m right there with you in this line of thinking, FL. Similarly, I’ve recently latched onto the “deep character, straight thinking” concept after a wise mentor introduced it to me.
Jon @ Be Net Worthy saysAugust 19, 2016 at 8:35 AM
That’s all great advice AE and I think that career advice gets short changed on lots of personal finance sites. For most people, doing well or even better yet, kicking-butt at their day job is the main factor that will propel them to their FI dreams.
It’s much easier to increase your savings rate when your income is going up!
Hero saysAugust 19, 2016 at 10:16 AM
Absolutely, Jon – and virtually anyone can increase their income through sheer effort, determination, and/or sacrifice. Work harder, increase your contributions, seek a raise, or pick-up a job delivering pizzas a few nights per week. In doing so, the average person could probably max out his IRA each year.
Matt @ Optimize Your Life saysAugust 19, 2016 at 2:06 PM
Problem solving and critical thinking skills should be at the top of the list for any hiring manager. You can learn the subject matter as you go, but those skills take years to build and master. And they help in every area of life!
Finance Solver saysAugust 19, 2016 at 8:43 PM
I love thinking critically. I make sure that I carefully and consciously thought through my response before I talk, not something that my friends like to do. In meetings, I am always either the last one to talk or the one to not talk at all and that gives off the wrong impression as a result. However, I will always keep thinking my ideas through to get to a result / decision and I love that you posted on here. Thanks for the thoughts AE!
TheMoneyMine saysAugust 20, 2016 at 4:32 PM
“Learn to live with less” is probably one of my favorites.
Not only does it make space in your life, but it also helps break the vicious circle of needing more to be happy.
Once you manage to be happy with less, you also tend to be happy with what you currently have. This is such a liberating feeling to not be looking for more car, more house or more whatever.
I realized that only a couple years ago, it is one of the best feelings ever.
Apathy Ends saysAugust 21, 2016 at 12:55 PM
Totally agree MoneyMine, once we realized we were ok with a smaller house, and don’t need fancy vehicles our spending dropped while happiness went up.
Martin - Get FIRE'd asap saysAugust 22, 2016 at 2:45 AM
Top points AE. If I didn’t already live my life by many of them already I’d be making the change.
By the fact that I do already follow most of these philosophies, or have done while I still worked, I can vouch for them too.
And believe me, when you reach the point where you can look at your job and go “meaaaahhh…”, it’s a significant moment in your life.
Hero saysAugust 22, 2016 at 2:51 PM
I’m looking forward to that point, Martin!
ZJ Thorne saysAugust 28, 2016 at 5:33 PM
Ignoring the opinions of people who don’t contribute to your happiness, wholeness or bottom line is a surefire way to increase all of those.