Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Do You Want to Change?

How badly do you want to change? The more I try to help people improve their financial condition, the more convinced I become that the key for most people is a desire to change. You have to want it. Not everyone really wants to change. If you are doing what you are doing there is a reason. Your behavior is providing you with some kind of a psychic reward. There are basically three ways to improve your financial condition. You can earn more money. You can spend less money. Through budgeting and investing you can learn to manage your money wisely.

About 12 years ago I decided I wanted to change. I wanted to retire. It didn’t start as a passion, just a realization if it was going to happen I was the one who was going to make it happen. I set out to learn the basics of investment. It is important to accept responsibility for your condition. You are the one living your life. Expecting others to take care of your problems will result in failure almost every time. As time past what began as a realization became a passion, a consuming passion. I focused more and more energy and time on planning for retirement and investing my money. We even used three annual vacations to scope out potential retirement sites. I reached a point where I didn’t have any idea what people were watching on TV, but I could tell you the 10 year bond rates to ± 0.1%. Now that I have reached the goal, I am beginning to rediscover interests and pursuits that were once part of my life. I wonder if I sacrificed too much of myself for those years. But would I have reached the goal if I wasn’t ready to cast aside all those distractions?

Change not only takes desire, it takes hard work that is uncomfortable at times. I like barbecue, salty snacks, and my evening beer. I don’t enjoy exercise. Is it a mystery why I have a problem with weight?

I wanted to take better care of my body. I wanted to lose weight. I hope that someday my heart will return to a normal sinus rhythm. I thought that once I was retired I would have more time to exercise and prepare better food than can be purchased at fast food joints. I have lost about 20 pounds. My body feels better than it has in years. I walk 2.5 miles most days. Some days I walk 2.5 miles two times. I have improved my diet. I eat less.

I have two friends that have remarkable weight loss and fitness success stories. However, they were willing to make changes I can’t imagine. Both have adopted a more or less vegetarian diet. I don’t really like vegetables with the exception of spinach and broccoli. Eating two servings of vegetables a day seems a difficult goal to me. One of them, inspired by the story of an American P.O.W. in Japanese camp, found he could live on a lot fewer calories than most any American would believe possible. Not only is he living on less. He is living better. He has made a study of nutrition to the point he has a reason for eating almost anything that goes into his mouth.

I am so not there, but I am getting better.

Start where you are.
Accept responsibility for yourself.
Set a goal.
Keep learning how to reach your goal.
Turn realization into passion.
Work hard.

You just might discover that fortune favors the bold.

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