We all have that friend who doles out relationship advice but can’t keep a partner for the life of them, or the aunt who tells you everything you need to know about parenting – even though she doesn’t have a kid.
As a person who helps people set and reach goals, nothing drives me crazier people whose actions diametrically oppose their words. Creating alignment between your goals and actions is easier than you think. Following through and sticking to your plan is trickier.
I find this is especially true when it comes to things that cause the most stress: money, career advancement, and relationships. Many people talk about the desire to achieve financial independence, get their dream job, and find the “perfect” partner, but few adopt habits to get them there.
This is an article for those few.
Here are 28 habits, strategies, and practices that have helped me live a damn fulfilling life.
1. Cultivate a sense of “Monetary Mindfulness”. For every potential purchase, weigh the cost against the potential value add to your life before pulling the trigger. My wife and I eat 30% of our meals “out” at the same Indian buffet. Their food is amazing, and 50% less than the Sushi and Mexican places in the same plaza. We get Sushi and Mexican when we’re craving it, but otherwise default to Indian.
2. Live significantly below your means. I bought my home for roughly double of what I make annually, which makes my mortgage payments affordable. I drive a reliable Toyota with 175+k miles for the same reason.
3. Spend money on experiences. Keeping fixed costs low have helped my wife and life an experience and travel rich life. In the past few years, we’ve done “bucket-list worthy” trips to Africa, Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, the cross-country trip of a lifetime, and countless 2-4 day regional adventures.
4. Above all else – realize accumulating stuff does nothing to help your happiness.
The Road To Financial Independence
5. Invest. As much as you can. Some pundits say to invest 10% of your total income. Others say at least 5%. I say to intelligently invest as much as you possibly can, as soon as you can. Invest first – spend later.
6. Learn how to invest your money. A few books that I’d recommend: “Money: Master the Game” by Tony Robbins, “The Intelligent Investor” by Benjamin Graham (Warren Buffet’s favorite book), “Antifragile” by Nasim Taleb, and “What I Learned Losing a Million Dollars” by Benjamin Moynihan.
7. Not interested? Pick a Robo-Investing service (My favorites are Wealthfront and Bettermeant) and let them do the work for you.
8. Seek investment opportunities where the risk/reward ratio is in your favor. I’ve invested small amounts in a broad cross-section of early startups. The vast majority of these companies will likely fail. The rest have huge potential for returns…
9. Open a Roth IRA or Traditional IRA (Wealthfront and Bettermeant allow for both)
10. Don’t invest in mutual funds (you’re getting ripped off).
11. Don’t speculate on individual stocks unless you know what you’re doing. Opt for ETF’s instead.
12. Related – Diversify. Diversify. Diversify. Here’s a quick primer on asset allocation.
13. 80% of millennials don’t invest. Be part of the 20% who do.
Make Yourself more Valuable
14. Write down 10 ideas everyday. James Altucher suggests this, and it’s freaking brilliant. Training yourself to be an “idea generator” will make more valuable in every situation.
15. Develop an awareness of your most unique skills and abilities, and seek opportunities to express them. Take a Strengths assessment if you’re unsure what they are…
16. Make a list of 20 mid to senior level people working in organizations where your skill set might apply. Research their businesses and reach out with your best ideas for improving their business. You won’t hear back from many, and that’s OK. The goal here is to demonstrate your potential value to others, expand your network, and, perhaps, even find a mentor in a target field.
17. Write down three things that make you uncomfortable (e.g., public speaking, dealing with conflict, and managing people), and force yourself to do them.
18. Read for at least 30 minutes a day (audiobooks count).
19. Every day – do something small that moves you closer to your career goals.
Daily Practices That Will Help You In Every Aspect Of Life
20. Move around.
21. Eat well (but indulge on occasion).
22. Get outside.
24. Sleep at least seven hours.
25. Find specific things to be grateful for – no matter how bad a day you’ve had.
26. Practice some form of mindfulness (Getting out of your own head is a good thing).
27. Take damn good care of yourself (If you don’t, no one else will).
28. I’ve left this for last intentionally. If you’ve done everything else, you’ve made yourself a pretty damn likeable person. Does this mean love will magically find you? Maybe not, but you’ll be in a better place to attract and retain that special someone.
At the end of the day, you’re the only person responsible for your own success and happiness. Take ownership and start baby-stepping towards the version of yourself you know you’re capable of becoming.
Those are just a few of my tips. Tag someone who is living a fulfilling life, and comment on daily practices that have helped you reach your goals.