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What are your big rocks?

Writing about wish jars recently got me thinking about productivity (jars). Can’t wait to hang out with me at a party, can you? But that then got me thinking about how well we manage to fit our priorities and values, our big rocks, into our life jars.

The big rocks of productivity

Stephen Covey was a business author who popularized the ‘big rocks’ approach to productivity. In summary, your total available time for the next week is represented by a jar. You can fill the jar with any combination of big rocks, pebbles and sand.

The big rocks are your strategic goals – like developing new products. The sand is the minor tasks like email, unjamming the printer, and having meetings to plan the agenda for the next meeting. The pebbles fall somewhere in between.

If you want to get your big rocks into the jar, you need to put them in first. If you start with the sand and pebbles, there’s no space for the big rocks. But we often start with sand because we can build castles with it it keeps us busy, which makes us FEEL productive. The same logic makes a hamster think it’s being productive whilst running on its wheel.

Life’s big rocks

The jar and rock analogy fits well with life. We fill our jar with the things we are focusing on in our lives. The big rocks should represent our highest goals or priorities based on our values. These will be different for everyone, but could include family time, exploring the world, faith, personal well-being (exercise, sleep, healthy eating) or volunteering with non-profits.

My work career would fall into the ‘pebble’ category of importance. It’s important, but not at the same level as quality time for family. Though I appreciate that there are people for whom work is a big rock, and that’s ok. I’ve come close to experiencing this when working for organizations that have a significant purpose – like reducing malaria in Zambia.

Family time is a priority for us, particularly in the next few years, as Mrs Chaos discussed in this post. You have approximately 10 years when you when your kids really want you around. After that you’re the one fighting for their attention.

Since we have 4 kids there is way TOO much sand in our lives (equally true after a visit to the beach). Mrs Chaos and I have some disagreements about what we would put into the sand category. She ascribes higher importance to things like dusting and vacuuming. I don’t have a scale small enough for these tasks. But where we do agree is that accumulating stuff is definitely adding sand to our jar.

Finding unicorns

Build a buffer between how much you earn and how much you spend.

Someone living paycheck to paycheck can’t begin to think about their big rocks until they’ve dumped all their work pebbles into the jar. Because losing that paycheck would be disastrous. That might mean both parents giving the best 50 hours of their week to a job / commuting. Which results in sacrificing family time, hobbies, exercise, or sleep because there is simply not enough space left in their jar for all the big rocks.

The only way to get more of your bigger rocks into your jar is to build a buffer between how much you earn and how much you spend.

I realize that building a buffer is WAY more difficult if you’re a single working parent or in a lower income job, especially in the current COVID climate. But many of us use low-income levels as an excuse for not creating margin whilst regularly succumbing to the siren call of Amazon or the easy option of eating out.

Once you have enough of a buffer, you’ve got Finding Unicorn money – at least I think that’s what JL Collins means when he talks about FU money.

It means that when an unbearable boss ‘asks’ you to come in at the weekend to re-staple your TPS reports, you have the option to quit and tell him you’d rather go Find Unicorns. Or if your organization decides they want to save money by moving their office to a high-risk death star, you don’t have to move with them. And since you’ve got a financial buffer, you can take your time finding the right job.

Take time to figure out what your big rocks are.

Do you even know your big rocks?

However, a potentially bigger problem with living at your limit is that you may never have taken time to figure out what your big rocks are. After all, there’s no point spending time dreaming about big rocks if your jar is full of work pebbles and ‘keeping up with the Jones’ sand.

Margin

The bigger your financial margin, the more of your big rocks you can fit in the jar. Your best chance of fitting ALL of your big rocks into your jar is to pursue Financial Independence. You can read more about the cult movement here. It’s just a fancy phrase for building enough margin into your financial life, so that your future self will not have to work for another 40 or 50 years.  

It may involve some counter-cultural choices and not paying attention to your neighbors’ latest purchase. Ultimately it boils down to being more intentional with your spending. Is there something you really value? Well fine, spend on it – as long as you have margin! But if it doesn’t pass your big rock or pebble test – don’t spend money on it.

Trust me, your future you will thank you. (In a suitably socially distanced manner – not because of COVID-19, but because of the space time continuum of course.)

For now, I’ll leave you with a parable retold by JL Collins:

The Monk and the Minister

Two close boyhood friends grow up and go their separate ways.  One becomes a humble monk, the other a rich and powerful minister to the king.

Years later they meet.  As they catch up, the minister (in his fine robes) takes pity on the thin, shabby monk.  Seeking to help, he says:

“You know, if you could learn to cater to the king you wouldn’t have to live on rice and beans.”

To which the monk replies…

If you could learn to live on rice and beans you wouldn’t have to cater to the king.

I’m not advocating a life of rice and beans, but like JL, I think it’s worth aiming to live more like the monk than the minister, so you are able to fit all your big rocks into your life jar.

SIGN UP for occasional updates – assuming things aren’t too chaotic…

*Friends and family this is not optional, in case you wondered.

The post What are your big rocks? appeared first on Cutting Through Chaos.

What are your big rocks?

Writing about wish jars recently got me thinking about productivity (jars). Can’t wait to hang out with me at a party, can you? But that then got me thinking about how well we manage to fit our priorities and values, our big rocks, into our life jars.

The big rocks of productivity

Stephen Covey was a business author who popularized the ‘big rocks’ approach to productivity. In summary, your total available time for the next week is represented by a jar. You can fill the jar with any combination of big rocks, pebbles and sand.

The big rocks are your strategic goals – like developing new products. The sand is the minor tasks like email, unjamming the printer, and having meetings to plan the agenda for the next meeting. The pebbles fall somewhere in between.

If you want to get your big rocks into the jar, you need to put them in first. If you start with the sand and pebbles, there’s no space for the big rocks. But we often start with sand because we can build castles with it it keeps us busy, which makes us FEEL productive. The same logic makes a hamster think it’s being productive whilst running on its wheel.

Life’s big rocks

The jar and rock analogy fits well with life. We fill our jar with the things we are focusing on in our lives. The big rocks should represent our highest goals or priorities based on our values. These will be different for everyone, but could include family time, exploring the world, faith, personal well-being (exercise, sleep, healthy eating) or volunteering with non-profits.

My work career would fall into the ‘pebble’ category of importance. It’s important, but not at the same level as quality time for family. Though I appreciate that there are people for whom work is a big rock, and that’s ok. I’ve come close to experiencing this when working for organizations that have a significant purpose – like reducing malaria in Zambia.

Family time is a priority for us, particularly in the next few years, as Mrs Chaos discussed in this post. You have approximately 10 years when you when your kids really want you around. After that you’re the one fighting for their attention.

Since we have 4 kids there is way TOO much sand in our lives (equally true after a visit to the beach). Mrs Chaos and I have some disagreements about what we would put into the sand category. She ascribes higher importance to things like dusting and vacuuming. I don’t have a scale small enough for these tasks. But where we do agree is that accumulating stuff is definitely adding sand to our jar.

Finding unicorns

Build a buffer between how much you earn and how much you spend.

Someone living paycheck to paycheck can’t begin to think about their big rocks until they’ve dumped all their work pebbles into the jar. Because losing that paycheck would be disastrous. That might mean both parents giving the best 50 hours of their week to a job / commuting. Which results in sacrificing family time, hobbies, exercise, or sleep because there is simply not enough space left in their jar for all the big rocks.

The only way to get more of your bigger rocks into your jar is to build a buffer between how much you earn and how much you spend.

I realize that building a buffer is WAY more difficult if you’re a single working parent or in a lower income job, especially in the current COVID climate. But many of us use low-income levels as an excuse for not creating margin whilst regularly succumbing to the siren call of Amazon or the easy option of eating out.

Once you have enough of a buffer, you’ve got Finding Unicorn money – at least I think that’s what JL Collins means when he talks about FU money.

It means that when an unbearable boss ‘asks’ you to come in at the weekend to re-staple your TPS reports, you have the option to quit and tell him you’d rather go Find Unicorns. Or if your organization decides they want to save money by moving their office to a high-risk death star, you don’t have to move with them. And since you’ve got a financial buffer, you can take your time finding the right job.

Take time to figure out what your big rocks are.

Do you even know your big rocks?

However, a potentially bigger problem with living at your limit is that you may never have taken time to figure out what your big rocks are. After all, there’s no point spending time dreaming about big rocks if your jar is full of work pebbles and ‘keeping up with the Jones’ sand.

Margin

The bigger your financial margin, the more of your big rocks you can fit in the jar. Your best chance of fitting ALL of your big rocks into your jar is to pursue Financial Independence. You can read more about the cult movement here. It’s just a fancy phrase for building enough margin into your financial life, so that your future self will not have to work for another 40 or 50 years.  

It may involve some counter-cultural choices and not paying attention to your neighbors’ latest purchase. Ultimately it boils down to being more intentional with your spending. Is there something you really value? Well fine, spend on it – as long as you have margin! But if it doesn’t pass your big rock or pebble test – don’t spend money on it.

Trust me, your future you will thank you. (In a suitably socially distanced manner – not because of COVID-19, but because of the space time continuum of course.)

For now, I’ll leave you with a parable retold by JL Collins:

The Monk and the Minister

Two close boyhood friends grow up and go their separate ways.  One becomes a humble monk, the other a rich and powerful minister to the king.

Years later they meet.  As they catch up, the minister (in his fine robes) takes pity on the thin, shabby monk.  Seeking to help, he says:

“You know, if you could learn to cater to the king you wouldn’t have to live on rice and beans.”

To which the monk replies…

If you could learn to live on rice and beans you wouldn’t have to cater to the king.

I’m not advocating a life of rice and beans, but like JL, I think it’s worth aiming to live more like the monk than the minister, so you are able to fit all your big rocks into your life jar.

SIGN UP for occasional updates – assuming things aren’t too chaotic…

*Friends and family this is not optional, in case you wondered.

The post What are your big rocks? appeared first on Cutting Through Chaos.

What are your big rocks?

Writing about wish jars recently got me thinking about productivity (jars). Can’t wait to hang out with me at a party, can you? But that then got me thinking about how well we manage to fit our priorities and values, our big rocks, into our life jars.

The big rocks of productivity

Stephen Covey was a business author who popularized the ‘big rocks’ approach to productivity. In summary, your total available time for the next week is represented by a jar. You can fill the jar with any combination of big rocks, pebbles and sand.

The big rocks are your strategic goals – like developing new products. The sand is the minor tasks like email, unjamming the printer, and having meetings to plan the agenda for the next meeting. The pebbles fall somewhere in between.

If you want to get your big rocks into the jar, you need to put them in first. If you start with the sand and pebbles, there’s no space for the big rocks. But we often start with sand because we can build castles with it it keeps us busy, which makes us FEEL productive. The same logic makes a hamster think it’s being productive whilst running on its wheel.

Life’s big rocks

The jar and rock analogy fits well with life. We fill our jar with the things we are focusing on in our lives. The big rocks should represent our highest goals or priorities based on our values. These will be different for everyone, but could include family time, exploring the world, faith, personal well-being (exercise, sleep, healthy eating) or volunteering with non-profits.

My work career would fall into the ‘pebble’ category of importance. It’s important, but not at the same level as quality time for family. Though I appreciate that there are people for whom work is a big rock, and that’s ok. I’ve come close to experiencing this when working for organizations that have a significant purpose – like reducing malaria in Zambia.

Family time is a priority for us, particularly in the next few years, as Mrs Chaos discussed in this post. You have approximately 10 years when you when your kids really want you around. After that you’re the one fighting for their attention.

Since we have 4 kids there is way TOO much sand in our lives (equally true after a visit to the beach). Mrs Chaos and I have some disagreements about what we would put into the sand category. She ascribes higher importance to things like dusting and vacuuming. I don’t have a scale small enough for these tasks. But where we do agree is that accumulating stuff is definitely adding sand to our jar.

Finding unicorns

Build a buffer between how much you earn and how much you spend.

Someone living paycheck to paycheck can’t begin to think about their big rocks until they’ve dumped all their work pebbles into the jar. Because losing that paycheck would be disastrous. That might mean both parents giving the best 50 hours of their week to a job / commuting. Which results in sacrificing family time, hobbies, exercise, or sleep because there is simply not enough space left in their jar for all the big rocks.

The only way to get more of your bigger rocks into your jar is to build a buffer between how much you earn and how much you spend.

I realize that building a buffer is WAY more difficult if you’re a single working parent or in a lower income job, especially in the current COVID climate. But many of us use low-income levels as an excuse for not creating margin whilst regularly succumbing to the siren call of Amazon or the easy option of eating out.

Once you have enough of a buffer, you’ve got Finding Unicorn money – at least I think that’s what JL Collins means when he talks about FU money.

It means that when an unbearable boss ‘asks’ you to come in at the weekend to re-staple your TPS reports, you have the option to quit and tell him you’d rather go Find Unicorns. Or if your organization decides they want to save money by moving their office to a high-risk death star, you don’t have to move with them. And since you’ve got a financial buffer, you can take your time finding the right job.

Take time to figure out what your big rocks are.

Do you even know your big rocks?

However, a potentially bigger problem with living at your limit is that you may never have taken time to figure out what your big rocks are. After all, there’s no point spending time dreaming about big rocks if your jar is full of work pebbles and ‘keeping up with the Jones’ sand.

Margin

The bigger your financial margin, the more of your big rocks you can fit in the jar. Your best chance of fitting ALL of your big rocks into your jar is to pursue Financial Independence. You can read more about the cult movement here. It’s just a fancy phrase for building enough margin into your financial life, so that your future self will not have to work for another 40 or 50 years.  

It may involve some counter-cultural choices and not paying attention to your neighbors’ latest purchase. Ultimately it boils down to being more intentional with your spending. Is there something you really value? Well fine, spend on it – as long as you have margin! But if it doesn’t pass your big rock or pebble test – don’t spend money on it.

Trust me, your future you will thank you. (In a suitably socially distanced manner – not because of COVID-19, but because of the space time continuum of course.)

For now, I’ll leave you with a parable retold by JL Collins:

The Monk and the Minister

Two close boyhood friends grow up and go their separate ways.  One becomes a humble monk, the other a rich and powerful minister to the king.

Years later they meet.  As they catch up, the minister (in his fine robes) takes pity on the thin, shabby monk.  Seeking to help, he says:

“You know, if you could learn to cater to the king you wouldn’t have to live on rice and beans.”

To which the monk replies…

If you could learn to live on rice and beans you wouldn’t have to cater to the king.

I’m not advocating a life of rice and beans, but like JL, I think it’s worth aiming to live more like the monk than the minister, so you are able to fit all your big rocks into your life jar.

SIGN UP for occasional updates – assuming things aren’t too chaotic…

*Friends and family this is not optional, in case you wondered.

The post What are your big rocks? appeared first on Cutting Through Chaos.

A Hip Hop . . . to the Hip Hip Hop and You Don’t Stop

I am so, so . . . so ancient have been a working-stiff for a long while now. I’ve never been a serial job hopper but have had several employers. And within several jobs I saw leadership changes at my level and the organization-wide level that resulted in all but a new workplace/environment. So I’ve got some perspective when it comes to workplaces. 

Since discovering FIRE, I’ve read a lot about people who job hop as a means to quickly increase their salary. Posts/articles I’ve read frequently detail income boosts of 15% or so from each hop, and that such increases couldn’t have happened but for the hop(s). I get that. And my personal experience jibes with these findings. I won’t deny the allure — much less the math behind the accompanying compounding — of these jumps. 

But I’ve worked for some employers/in some environments that sssuuuuucccckkkkkked were suboptimal. In some cases, the work wasn’t enjoyable. In others, the boss was lousy. In yet others, the atmosphere was toxic for everyone. I’ve also worked for some good employers/in some good environments.

Breaking bad

My biggest job-hop-related salary jump came when I left Employer 1, which I enjoyed working for, but at which the leadership had taken a turn for the worse. I’d decided that I was going to leave Employer 1 no matter what. So the pay bump I got when I joined Employer 2 was an exceptionally welcome development. And the job at Employer 2 — at least on paper — looked really great. But on day two of the new job, I sensed that things were totally messed up amiss. Soon I realized that my hunch was right and also that the work environment was toxic. Over time, my stress level increased, and I completely dreaded going into the office. But, I thought, the salary is good, so maybe I should stick it out.

After a few months tho, my priorities for an ideal workplace — tho never really out of place — came into wholly clear focus. Money hadn’t ever been the most important thing for me. But I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t high on the list. My new perspective diminished the value that money had for me in a work environment. By the same token, the value I placed on having good coworkers, a good boss, and an at-least-tolerable work environment went way up.

I can see clearly now the rain has gone.

And so I resolved to leave Employer 2. I also decided that if that meant a pay cut, I’d be OK with that. I’m not sure how much of a pay cut I’d have accepted. But I’d not have dismissed out of hand a pretty large cut.  

There’s essentially nothing that would have made me want to stay at Employer 2, and that — combined with my clearer perspective as to what was important to me — was extremely valuable to learn. It’s informed my decision making ever since. I ultimately left Employer 2. And my following work environment was great. The stress I’d felt at Employer 2 melted away. 

Hello Goodbye

I’ve also worked with job-hoppers over the years. Like I mentioned, I get the financial incentives behind job hopping. But, speaking for myself, when I sense that a new colleague essentially is just marking days before he or she leaves for another employer — note to jumpers: your plans are often as easy to see through as a cheap rug — I feel much less desire to get to know and, frankly, be overly helpful to that person. I know I’m not alone in that sentiment.

Sure, I do what’s necessary to effectively work with the job hopper. But whereas with a non-job hopper I’d be inclined to go above and beyond — often because I want to be a nice guy (and/or sometimes to pay it forward) — with the job hopper I never know if I’m essentially just being used by them. And there’s usually a good chance that the job hopper won’t do much, if anything, to be overly helpful to me, my group, or my organization. Job hoppers’ goals often are to avoid screwing anything up, maybe notching a win or two (generally heedless of the medium- or long-term (net) benefits, and often by using others in the organization to realize their objective), and then bolting.

I don’t like being used by people who aren’t genuine and/or looking to help me as I am them. At all. Even more if I get the sense that the user thinks he or she is pulling a fast one on me, or, worse in my book, patronizing me. That, Dear Reader, will earn someone a spot at the top of my I’m-done-with-you list. And as for me being a reference for the job hopper? If the job hopper disingenuously used me, forget it.

I’ve also often wondered if The Jumper is ever happy or content, at work or generally. If they’re always chasing more dollars, then is there an end? And do they feel like something is missing if they never form lasting friendships where they work? I dunno the answers, but I have to imagine that a lot of jumpers feel an ever-present sense of angst.

Do you feel lucky, punk? Well do you?

As I’m long-windedly trying to explain, anytime you job hop, you’re taking a gamble that the new environment will be good and/or that you’ll fit in. Sometimes it will. Other times it won’t. Of course, as I mentioned earlier, even if you stay put, there’s no guarantee that things won’t get worse there. Or, for that matter, better. 

Oh, craps!

So I won’t tell you, Dear Reader, that job hopping is always all good or all bad. It’s just probably going to be a roll of the dice. But I will suggest that you thoughtfully consider the pros and cons of a job hop, what you value in a job (beyond compensation), and your ability and willingness to tolerate things you don’t like in a job.

OK, Dear Reader, time to hop along.

The post A Hip Hop . . . to the Hip Hip Hop and You Don’t Stop appeared first on FI for the People.

Simple Ideas For A Successful Financial Life

Expect Disaster

We are expected to thrive in an unknowable future. Prepare for the worst. Your good times do not need any preparation but bad times do. Disaster can come at anytime. It can take everything away from you. Prepare yourself. Buy insurance. Have emergency funds for rainy days. Create a corpus for retirement. Forget everything, CREATE WEALTH.

Own Very Little

When the goodwill in the books of a Company is measured for impairment, there is a concept of measuring the cushion between the fair value and the book value of the Company. The larger the cushion, the lower the chances of any impairment. We need a similar cushion in our financial lives as well. We can increase the cushion by owning as less as possible. Wealth, after all, is what you do not see. It’s the fancy car not bought, the luxury holiday not taken and the latest iPhone not purchased.

Be Expensive

Make yourself expensive. Have specific knowledge. Would you rather have 1000 clients paying you $100 each or 100 clients paying you $1,000 each. Focus on the top 1% who are willing to do anything to learn from you. You will have more time. To make more money. 


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