The Other 8 Hours

Recently I’ve run across Robert Pagliarni. I stumbled across him as I was getting into the personal finance blog world, and I’ve loved the title of his book, “The Other 8 Hours.” The concept is that the “other 8 hours” is the hours you are not working at your day job and sleeping.

What do we do with those hours?

Realistically those 8 hours for me aren’t really 8 they are about about 6. Because here is a typical day. And I bet it’s kind of similar to yours!

6am-wake up and get ready
7am-travel to work
730am-4pm-work
4pm-travel home
430pm-get home

If I started my 8 hours at 430pm I’d be up  until 12:30am. But sleep is important to me so I try to be in bed by 1030 or 11pm.

That gives me 6 1/2 hours to do something with other than sleep and work.

So what do we do with them? We eat, get on the internet, watch TV, talk to our family, go work out, etc., etc. And all of those things are fine. But when you spend time doing one of them be reminded you will never get that time back. Time is a non-renewable resource.

So the point is to make sure our other “8” hours are spent doing what we want to do. They are spent on what is important to us; not on just what “comes our way” or happens to fall in our lap.

For me, there is a lot that I’d like to spend my other hours on. Right now here are some of my priorities:

1. Working out. I don’t go every day but more days than not at least 1 of my hours is spent on this. Usually more than 1 hour.
2. Blogging. This shouldn’t take long but I want to spend some of my other 8 hours blogging and connecting with people.
3. Learning. This is where most of my other hours go. I’m currently enrolled in school full time so this semester I am studying the Bible, economics, biology and history.  It’s a lot of reading. A lot of lectures. And a lot of homework. It takes a lot of time. =P I also include my blog reading here since it is also learning. 😉
4. Family and friends. Ultimately, there’s nothing more important to me than love. Love for God and love for people so I want to spend time with those closest to me as well as spend time reaching out to others. I don’t do this enough but I’d like to do it more consciously.

Of course, there are my dreams of being an entrepreneur and starting businesses and investing money and being a millionaire, but right now, those 4 things take up much of my “extra” 6 1/2 hours. Because THIS is a typical evening after getting home:

430pm-Brief myself on my financial situation (overview budget, look at accounts, etc.), read some blogs and do some homework.
530pm-Help with dinner and then eat dinner with my family
630pm-Watch TV with a friend
7pm-Go to the gym
730pm-9pm-Work out at the gym
9pm-Head home from the gym
930pm-Get on facebook to connect with friends/watch TV/do more homework/sit and talk to a family member/eat a late snack/write blog for next day
10pm-get ready for bed
1030pm-Sleep

Sometimes that schedule doesn’t sound quite as productive to me as I’d like it to be, but really, I’m enjoying my life right now. At the age of 20 and going to school full time and working full time, those extra 6.5 hours are special to me, and for the most part I feel as though I am using them wisely. When I am not doing school (if I take a summer off or when I get my degree) then I hope to make those other hours look different–more concentrated focus on business ventures and such.

Answer in the comments: Do you think I should spend my other hours more wisely? How do you spend YOUR other 8 hours? Is it what you want to be doing?

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Does It Have to Come Naturally?

So yesterday I tweeted this. And I realized that the reason I do this is because investments don’t come naturally to me. The how, what, when, where and why are all questions that haunt me when it comes to “investing.”  So I got to thinking about how I apply the same logic to much of life.

I love life a lot.

But it scares me to think I may just love it cause it’s so easy right now. Everything is coming so naturally.

Just like I love reading personal finance blogs when they are easy for me to understand. Talk about budgets and frugality and saving and spending and insurance and all of those kinds of things is relatively easy for me to understand in comparison to investing. I’ve only heard the terms mutual funds and EFTs.

[Though I invested in my first penny stock last December. Nothing serious.]

So what comes naturally is obviously easier than what comes with a little bit of effort. But think of all the things we could be missing out on! All of the things that if we just took the time to learn we could enjoy just as much as we are enjoying all of the things that come naturally to us.

Maybe it’s an art like playing the piano or painting or writing poetry or fiction or starting to blog.
Maybe it’s teaching others.
Maybe it’s going out of our way to serve or give our time, money or ears.
Maybe it’s becoming a personal trainer, counselor or preacher.
Maybe it is finally starting a budget or starting to eat healthy.

For some, these things come naturally. And for others, it doesn’t. But why let what doesn’t come naturally to you stop you from enjoying it? Go ahead and take the time to learn it and reap the fruits of  your labor.

I’m going to do that with investments but there are a lot more important things I’m going to do that with too.

What kinds of things do you know you would enjoy if you weren’t so uncomfortable with it at first? What will it take to learn about it enough to start enjoying it?

The Power of Peace

Many things hold “power.” Knowledge. Position. Recognition. Authority. Writing. Speaking. They all have one degree or another of influence and ability to change things.

But one thing that has more power than most of us give it credit for is peace.

In order to be who we want to be we must carry not just a sense or display of peace but a true, deep, inner peace. The kind of peace that lets us breathe deep and hold steady. The kind of peace that keeps us focused when everything is changing around us. The kind of peace that knows things are going to work out just right. The kind of peace that lets us fall asleep soundly.

Peace is underrated. It’s not a luxury. It’s a necessity. To get where we’re going–and to enjoy the journey–demands we have peace.

Like I stated in my post on simplicity, many people take pride in carrying on crazy lives. But those people will work really hard and do very little.

Possessing peace will give you the assurance the work you have done is, actually, enough.
It will allow you to be confident in who you are, what you stand for, how you think and what you do.
It grants  power to you instead of to your situation.

But it must be sought out. It will not just drop in your lap one day. So my advice? Get away. Close your eyes. Breathe deep. Remind yourself why you do what you do, think what you think and say what you say. Be at peace with yourself and God and see the power of it flood into your life.

Peace will leave you with far less wrinkles, far more laughs, and many more accomplishments.

Do you think there is power in peace?  Do you have it? How do others get it?

Putting People First

There are few things that have a bigger impact on a person than when you put them first. They feel appreciated, valued and taken care of.

If you want someone’s help and support–be it a friend or a customer (because you DO need their support)–put them first.

I had a somewhat bad experience at Moore Warren Theater last Friday and sent the general manager an email about it. He called me and apologized several times for the situation and told me to email him the next time I’d like to see a movie there, and he would escort me and a friend in for free.

Think that one bad experience I had is going to keep me away? No way.

There is value in putting people first.

How will you put people first in your personal or business life this week?

Forget the Past

We’ve all seen the homeless man on the side of the road asking for money or food or “anything” that “helps.” I sometimes wonder what the “anything” would be.

I admit sometimes I’m in a hurry and don’t say or give anything at all to them. I almost act like they’re not even there. How inhumane of me, really.

Last week I was coming home from work and there at the stop sign stood a man with a similar sign. But instead of rolling on by without a hello I rolled down my window and told him I’d buy him a hamburger if he’d meet me up at Sonic. So he did. And I did. And as we waited for his burger to  come out I asked him what he was doing.

He said he’d been “doing this” (traveling around hitchhiking) for three years. He didn’t seem like an alcoholic or a mean, creepy guy, just an elderly man with big glasses and a big backpack who had been to many many places. I offered him a few kind words and hoped he saw light in my heart and then we went our separate ways.

I’m not sure what this man’s full story was. He said he didn’t have much family except some extended family in a state far away. But what I do know is that man, just like each and every one of us, isn’t confined to the circumstance we are currently facing. We can choose, in our hearts, to forget what’s been hindering us and to move forward instead.

Paul wrote something similar: “One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.”

We get that chance every day. More than that really–we get it every moment. To forget what is behind us–the good, the bad, and the ugly–and instead, make drastic steps forward to do all the things we were meant and put on earth to do.

How do you consistently stop the past from hindering your future?

Simplicity

How many people have you met who take pride in the fact that their lives are so complex and “busy” and therefore significant? We all  have met these people. Sometimes they are the people staring us back in the mirror.

But really, if we’re honest with ourselves, we hear the whisper in our souls that complexity and busyness do not equal importance or significance.

It’s not how much we’re doing.
It’s what we’re doing. And how we’re doing it.

How do you keep your life simple yet still significant?

Goals: Set, Keep, Reach

Goals are vital. I’m always telling myself and people around me that if you don’t set a goal I can guarantee you, 100% of the time you WILL. NOT. REACH. IT.

Of course, right? But we all tend to live (at times) as if we are going to do and reach everything we want to without actually telling ourselves exactly what that is. Yes, we all want to live a good life. Yes, we all want to love. Yes, we all want to be different and make a difference. But what does that look like? Really?

I’m not one to say that there is a certain thing I want to “be” when I grow up, but I do have dreams and desires. But those dreams and desires will only come about in the form of short-term goals. Yes, mid and long term goals are needed as well–and hopefully I’ll talk about those soon–but if there is no short term goal that I can see I am getting closer to reaching, I start to lose hope. And when it comes down to it, hope drives us.

So…because I want to be transparent and I want to share with you specifics about my life (and I want to know specifics about  yours!) I’m going to list some of my more short-term goals in a few different areas.

FINANCIAL (so supposedly you aren’t supposed to talk about your finances with people but….why not??)
1. $1,000 in emergency fund by year end 2010
2. $2,000 in cash savings by year end 2010 (this is gonna be a hard one.)
3. $1500 for vacation in fall of 2010
4. $800 for school every semester (the rest is going on a loan….I know, I know, everyone says loans aren’t good but we’ll talk about that in a later post.)
5. Open a 401(k) and Roth IRA and begin to fund (I’m 20 and I know that’s when you’re supposed to start saving for retirement but I want to get my cash savings built  up first.

There are some other shortER term goals like a mini-vacation to TX one weekend, a new cell phone, saving for some furniture, etc, etc. And in order to meet all these goals it requires a little more attention to be paid to your finances than just putting your paycheck in your checking account and then swiping you debit card a few times. But take heart! It CAN be done!

HEALTH
Well, this is a good one, right? Sure, it’s good to have goals in the health area of your life but they are soooo hard to keep. At least for me, they are. As much as I don’t want to blame things on my environment sometimes I feel it really is the reason I’m not keeping my short-term health goals. But regardless! Here they are….
1. Work out 4 times a week.
2. No caffeine.
3. One “sugar-extra” a week. (Are you kidding me, right now?!?)
4. At least 6 hours of sleep every night.
5. Lose 10 pounds by May 1

These are goals. They are things I’m working toward. The no caffeine thing I have been doing really really well on. The second week of January I decided to knock out coffee out of my diet completely, and it was a VERY good decision. I have no more caffeine-induced, artificial energy. Only the raw thing! The other things I’m still working on. =)

EDUCATION/TRAINING
1. Read smart/successful/entertaining people’s blogs daily. (I have a wide array of blogs I read–friends about their daily life, new entrepreneurs, older entrepreneurs, CEOs, smart professionals, LOTS of personal finance bloggers. I encourage you to start adding good blogs you come across to your google reader so you can look at all of them in one place.)
2. Read books often. (Right now it’s a lot of books for school but if I have any extra time I like to pick up books I’ve heard are a must to read. I keep a “wish list” on Amazon so I always know what I need. =)
3.  Finish my bachelor’s degree.

Learning is for everyone. Whether you have your bachelor’s degree or not, you can never learn enough. So whatever you’re interested in keep learning more about it. And whatever you WANT to be more interested in, you can be by just sticking yourself out a little and finding a few blogs or books!

RELATIONSHIPS
Ultimately, I don’t want my relationships to be “goals” but sometimes I have to internalize some certain things I want to do in the near future with certain people I love or want to reach out to. Here’s a few examples.
1. More hang time with my family.
2. More networking with those I haven’t talked to in awhile.
3. More talking to strangers.
5. Not be so uptight and learn to enjoy the spontaneous fun-ness that always happens in a house full of 7 people I love dearly.

Obviously goals are better set, kept and reached when they have some kind of “numerical” value to them…because then you can measure it easily. Relationships aren’t numbers though, they are faces, and I’d like to keep them that way. So when I go to “measure” these relational goals I just have to let my heart do all the thinking.

Ok. That is SOO enough of my goals.

Now my questions for you!

What goals have you set, kept and reached lately? What goals do you need to set now? How do you keep yourself on track?