Thursday, January 5, 2017

Preventing the “Gradual” Disaster

The most dangerous thing we can do to ourselves is to let things happen to us gradually. It’s the little things over the long run that shape us, physically, mentally, financially, and emotionally. If you’ve ever heard the anecdote about the frog that got cooked in a pot without even noticing, you’ll know what I’m talking about. If you’ve ever been or known someone who put on 15 pounds in 3 years, you’ll know what I’m talking about. If you’ve ever been or known someone who’s been in a shitty relationship for a long time, you’ll know what I’m talking about. If you’ve ever been or known someone who went bankrupt after years of keeping their head above the water, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

I swear, I just walked in and the dog was just there. 

How the hell did this happen? definitely wasn't overnight, I'll tell you that much.

It’s easy to overlook or ignore the little things we do or allow to happen to us in daily life. An extra snack or meal once in a while is fine, but on a regular basis can turn into an extra 3 lbs gained a year. 5 pounds doesn’t seem like much, nor a year seem like an inappropriate amount of time to have weight “fluctuate” 5 pounds, but after 5 years (which comes sooner than we realize, as we all know), and 25 pounds later, we’re wondering how that much weight “snuck on” when we didn’t have any changes to our lifestyle. 

Getting in 5 hours of sleep versus your necessary 7 or 8 is ok once in a while, but when it becomes a habit and your body adjusts, it will start to increase in cortisol levels, leading to higher stress levels, cravings, weight gains, weight loss, and possibly other hormonal issues. A couple years later, and you find yourself 15 pounds heavier, digestive issues, moody, and always tired. But you didn’t change anything. 

Allowing tiny irks from your romantic partner that you know bother you might be ok at first, but if not addressed, could turn into a relationship filled with resentment and annoyance that is hard to get out of, simply because of convenience and amount of time already invested. Even abusive relationships start out fun an innocent, and the first instance of abuse may not have been very severe, or just brushed off, but allowed to continue, can turn into years, decades, or even generations of abuse.

Spending the $5 on a coffee might seem like chump change because it’s only $5, but do that on the weekdays equals ~20x/month, $100/month, and $1200/year. Just on coffee. Add other regular small purchases, like a subscription you never use for $10/month ($120/year), the occasional pair of shoes ($100 avg) once a month ($1200) that you probably will either only wear fewer than 5 times if at all, gym membership you never use but is just too cheap to cancel ($14.99/month = $180/year), an extra meal out a week because you were too lazy to cook ($15x50 weeks = $750/year), and then you find yourself at the end of the year with no money for Christmas presents (which to me is a whole other blog-worthy topic), even though you effectively wasted $3,450 on just the said items above. 

It’s the little things, done regularly, that shape who we are, and what situations we find ourselves in. So, like we would do for children and puppies, we want to keep things in check for ourselves to prevent future “not sure why/how it happened” disasters. Do a regular “check in” with yourself. This way you can identify any issues early on, and choose to be proactive to prevent the continuation of those issues. Perhaps it’s once a month, once every 3 months, or even once a year. I like to do a bit of each. Every month, I do my financial P&L for my businesses, goals/projects progress check, and personal life check. Because one month is only a small snippet of time in the year, I will also take a quick look at the past 3 months while I’m doing those checks. I’ll look at trends along with evaluate what reasons things might be fluctuating or continuing at a steady rate (good or bad). Then I’ll decide if I want to take action on those items, and then go from there. It seems like a lot of work, but it’s kind of like keeping the house clean. Do a little bit frequently, and you won’t end up waking up to a house that looks like 100 people had a party in episode of Hoarders. 2-3 times a year, I’ll do a little more serious of an evaluation of how things are going, to see if I need to change my big plans of actions/goals. And at the end of the year or beginning of the new year, I’lll use those results from the previous year to make new goals and plans of actions that are realistic and measurable for that year.

Try keeping yourself in check this year, frequently, and you won’t likely find yourself in those frustrating “how did this happen?” situations. 

Happy 2017!!

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