Are You Bettering Yourself Each Year?

I am a firm believer in New Years Resolutions. Each year I try to make at least one really big change in my life, and if I can think of more then I try to implement more… plain and simple. I actually do this year round but for some reason these kind of changes only stick  when it’s a New Year’s Resolution. I have no idea why, but I think mainly I actually WANT to make changes more in the New Year because I feel like I have a fresh start. After all, the most important element in making a major life change is to truly want to make a life change.

It’s a simple concept, yet one most people can’t grasp. People lie to themselves all the time and tell themselves that they will do a,b, and c, but in reality they don’t really want it that badly. The most common example is quitting smoking cigarettes. So many people try to quit but deep down they really don’t want to. They have that one cigarette and then they’re back to their old bad habits. Why does that happen? Because they don’t want it bad enough; “it” being change.

People have said to me countless times, “I wish I had your work ethic” or “I was I had your motivation”. It’s said a bunch of times in this thread and this one. I get a little annoyed when I hear comments like this. The thought that motivation and working hard is something certain people have and others don’t is a scapegoat in my opinion. People deny the fact that if you really want something then you can accomplish it. If you REALLY want something, then the effort it takes to do what needs to be done and the will power needed to avoid deterrents to your goal will seem less problematic. The real issue is that people don’t really want the things that think they want. That or they don’t want them as much as they want to be lazy, which is a pathetic excuse. I guess the foundation of what I am saying is that people can do whatever they want, it just takes a certain amount of hard work, more for some than others for various goals obviously, but I am a believer that most people are capable of accomplishing any reasonable goal.

This year I plan on setting and accomplishing several reasonable goals. Right now I have a few, so I’ll share them to add a little accountability on my part. Unfortunately, a few of mine are very common and generic goals, but I think that is fine because I really do need to make changes in the ares I’m writing about. Notice how I have general goals but a specific plan on what exactly I’m going to do. This is important because general goals are vague and you can fool yourself into thinking you’re accomplishing something when you’re actually half-assing it.

Start Reading Books Again 

Over the past five years instead of reading at night I have watched instructional poker videos before bed. This has really helped my poker game but I’m not playing much any more so it is not a good use of my time. Therefore I have decided to start reading. Per a friend’s suggestion, I will cycle between fun/entertaining books and educational books, and I will switch the educational books between something I know about and something I know nothing about. My volume goal is to read two books per month.

Get Back In Shape 

This was my goal last year, and I accomplished it in spades after losing about 15 pounds and really getting into good shape again. Unfortunately I got hurt mid-year and couldn’t exercise for over a month and after falling out of my routine I never got back in it and put on 20 pounds the rest of the year from eating horribly and never exercising. My goal is to exercise 5 times a week, that will actually be 6 times starting next month when I start playing basketball on Saturdays in February. I will lift weights twice a week, play basketball twice a week, do yoga once a week and do plyometrics once a week.

Eat Healthier for all three meals

  • Breakfast – Eat steal cut oatmeal 4 times a week, one cheat day per week.
  • Lunch – No chips, eat salad, anticarb wrap, or fish 4 times a week.
  • Dinner – Eat 1-2 servings of what we make, rather than 3+. No snacking after work before dinner.

Cut Back On Spending

In 2012 I spent more than I made. Not good. So we are making a lot of small adjustments to save money this year. Here are a few things my girlfriend and I have made:

  • Stop Eating Out for “Convenience” – We used to eat out once or twice a week just because we didn’t feel like cooking. In Chicago, this is pretty expensive. Even an average meal can be $40+ easily. Meanwhile, we have become really good cooks so it’s not like the food we order out is that much better. We are saving $200-300 per month by simply cooking an extra time or two each week. This does not mean we don’t go out any more, because we both love to eat out and try new places, and we live downtown in Chicago so it would be foolish not to eat out. All we have cut out here is the mediocre convenience food.
  • Cancel Cable Services – This isn’t a goal so much as it is a one and done thing. We don’t really watch that much TV on these channels so it is sort of a waste of money. Small savings but cutting down on small things adds up quickly.
  • Donated all our “junk” in our storage unit – We realized we paid $2200 since we moved in together to pay for our storage until which held about $1000-1500 worth of stuff. Within weeks of this realization we had donated or sold everything in there and cancelled the steep $150 / month fee for the storage.

In conclusion, I hope the motivation rant and example of some things that I’m concentrating on help some people. Set some goals this year, make them reasonable, and make sure that they get accomplished.


About zephendrix

I work for a stock options market making group and go to grad school at the University of Chicago. To read more check out my well:
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