Einstein on a Happy Life

“If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.” — Albert Einstein

I love quotes.  Great quotes pack a lot of power and wisdom in a small package, and when this one came across my email last week It really got me thinking.  This is pretty interesting advice on life coming from one of history’s greatest thinkers.

Some of our happiness is tied to people and that’s a good thing.   If we’re accomplishing our goals but have neglected our relationships to the point that we have nobody to celebrate them with, then we’ve missed the mark.   But we can’t tie our happiness solely to others, as we can’t control their feelings and responses, as much as we might like to.   We can control our actions and our aims, and a focus on inspiring goals can help us live happier, more fulfilled lives.

So how can we be more like Einstein and focus on goals?

Set long-term goals that can excite you. If you can read a printed statement of your goal and not feel energized or inspired, then you’re not on the right track.  You’ve got to feel something.  You might feel scared or intimidated because it’s a big goal you’ve set, but feeling nothing is a sign that the goal isn’t connected with your heart’s core and it won’t spark the excitement or fear that is necessary to get you moving each and every day toward that goal.

Set short-term goals along the way. If you only see the horizon, even if you’re making progress, it is easy to feel stuck.   You’ve got to find a way to make the process feel like progress, and the best way I know to do that is to set out some short-term goals.  Becoming completely debt-free may be inspiring, but it may take years.  How can you recognize and celebrate each time you pay off an account or make a payment milestone?

Remind yourself of this goal daily.   Daily reminders of your goals help train your mind to look for opportunities to make progress, and are an immunization against the struggles you will inevitably come across.  How can you put this goal somewhere you will see it each and every day?  Tape it to your bathroom mirror?  Your front door?  Find a way to focus your mind on your goal for a few seconds each day.

Celebrate the wins. How will you celebrate each milestone?  How can you recognize and reward yousrelf for the effort and sacrifices that you’ve made to reach the final goal?  Celebrating the steps along the way will provide more fuel to the fire and help you reach the ultimate goal more quickly.

What are your thoughts as you read Einstein’s Quote?  What has helped you live a happy life?

Top Posts for October 2011

October was an incredible month for me and Upperline.  I was honored to be included as part of the inaugural New Orleans CityBusiness Class of Top Financial Professionals.

Below are the 10 most viewed posts on the Upperline Financial Planning blog in October.

 

 

Wordle.net – word cloud of top posts in October

  1. Earn More by Making the Most of your Benefits at Work
  2. My 6 Favorite Business iPad Apps
  3. Baby Steps Aren’t Just for Babies
  4. Refinancing – the Silver Lining of the Uncertain Markets
  5. New Orleans – #1 City for Young Entrepreneurs
  6. 6 Tips for Refinancing Your Home – Financial Rules of Thumb Series
  7. Is Your Identity Safe? National Protect Your Identity Week
  8. 7 Financial Tips for Newlyweds
  9. Financial Rules of Thumb – A Planner’s Perspective
  10. A Difference Between an Employee and an Entrepreneur

Baby Steps Aren’t Just for Babies

If you’ve been reading this blog for any period of time, or following my personal account on Twitter (@HJudeBoudreaux), you know how much I’ve loved watching my 13 month old daughter grow.  It has been an incredible experience.   Now, she’s starting to walk and explore her world in a new way.  I often find myself reflecting on the lessons I seem to be learning from her every day.

  • Big progress comes from small lessons.  She’s a pretty good walker for being 13 months old, and I saw that progress happen organically.  It might feel like it happened in a flash but it was a series of steps from rolling over, to kneeling, crawling, standing, and then walking holding on to things.
  • Clap for yourself.  Every new task learned is met with incredible enthusiasm from my wife and I.  It’s wonderful to see her smile and take pride in the new things she’s learning.  She’s learned to clap and is quick to give herself some applause when she finally conquers a new task.
  • You’re going to fall down. A lot.  Just because she’s done something once doesn’t mean that she can sit down and do it again.  Sometimes she gets frustrated with that (sorry honey, you get that from me), but most of the time she simply picks herself up and tries again.
  • It’s ok to ask for help.  She’s finally reaching the age where she understands she can ask for help with things, and I’m glad to help her.  She watches intently and while she’s got the attention span of a 13 month old I can see her trying to do the things that I’ve shown her.

I see her doing the above things over and over, and it’s wonderful to watch as a parent.  My wife and I are patient and supportive of her as she plays and explores.

Yet, I have no patience for myself with my own growth and exploration.  

I’m naturally a long-term thinker, which is a wonderful thing to have in your financial planner.  It does drive me crazy that the future that I envision doesn’t quickly happen.  It frustrates me to no end when I can’t pick up a new piece of software and instantly be an expert at it.

So, starting today I’m going to be mindful of these 3 lessons I’ve learned from my daughter and try to apply them to my business and my life.

  1. Take a small step.  It’s really easy to lose sight of this in our financial lives.  It’s natural to want to search for large changes, but those large changes often come from small steps.  Where can you take a small, meaningful step in your financial life towards something worthwhile?
  2. Who can help?  Is there a mentor, friend, or family member that can help you learn that new behavior?  Can you and your partner help each other learn and grow together?
  3. Celebrate the wins.  When I was involved with the Entrepreneur’s Organization Accelerator program, Scott Fritz would remind us at the end of every meeting (and regularly within our companies) to celebrate the wins.  How are you celebrating the milestones that you’re reaching?  Give yourself some applause!
What baby steps can you take today to continue your growth as a person?  

 

Is Your Identity Safe? National Protect Your Identity Week

This week is National Protect Your Identity Week, and while I’m sure every week is a national week of one kind or another, this is a good reminder to take steps to protect your identity.

They’ve got a great quiz on their website that can help you more easily understand the warning signs and risk factors for identity theft.  I enjoyed the quiz and took away a few important points as a new parent.

  • Children are at risk for Identity Theft.  They’ve got a new Social Security Number, a clean slate from a credit standpoint, and are good targets for identity theft.
  • Identity Theft could happen, even before birth.  The Social Security Administration simply issues new Social Security Numbers, they don’t check to find out if they’ve been used fraudulently by someone.  (There’s a great free tool to run a quick scan for your child – https://www.allclearid.com/child).
  • Keep your usernames and passwords secure, and use different passwords as much as possible.  I know this is a huge hassle, but if a website gets breached and it’s the same username and password that you use for multiple sites, you’ll need to change your password for multiple sites.  It helps if you use a tool like 1Password or LastPass to generate complex passwords, and store them on your computer with an encrypted keychain.  That all sounds a lot more complex than it is, I promise.
  • Check your credit reports regularly.  You can get free credit reports every year from each of the major credit reporting bureaus at AnnualCreditReport.com.  Put a reminder in your calendar to pull one every 4 months and it will help you stay aware of what’s happening with your credit life.
Take a few simple steps today, and protect your identity!

Earn More by Making the Most of your Benefits at Work

It’s that time of year again, when your Human Resources managers distribute large booklets of information and ask you to make choices about your benefits for next year.  It’s never a fun task to read through all of that material, but it can have a real impact on your personal bottom line when you make good choices.

Benefits are a huge part of your total compensation.

How much?

Would you believe 30%?  That’s the amount, according to this recent report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  That’s a huge amount, and you can’t afford to not pay attention to those.  Most of the companies we have worked with here in New Orleans offer great benefits, and they want their employees to make the most of these for their and their family’s benefit.  Here are 6 things to think about while you make your choices.

  1. Make the right choice for you and your family for your health insurance.  Most employers offer several options for their health insurance plans.  Look at the different options, and learn about some of the newer choices like Healthcare Savings Accounts (HSAs).  Once you understand the moving parts, they can be a great deal and they can save you thousands.
  2. Get a raise by contributing to your retirement plan up to the match (at least).  If your employer offers a match, it’s free money there for the taking.  Make sure you take it. Here’s a previous article I wrote on 401k Matches that provides more specifics.
  3. Don’t assume the life insurance offered is the cheapest option for you.  Most employers offer a basic amount of life insurance that is fully paid by your company.  The supplemental life insurance isn’t always a great deal, however.  If you think you need more life insurance (and are in great health), check the rate offered by your company and search online for quotes.  You might be able to save some money.
  4. If you’re not in great health, the life insurance offered by your company is probably a great deal.  If you’re not sure you’d be able to qualify for life insurance through the traditional underwriting process, grab whatever coverage you can get from your employer.
  5. Check your beneficiaries.  Open Enrollment is a great time to make sure you’ve got your beneficiaries listed properly.  Did you get married?  Divorced?  Have a child?  Make sure your elections are up-to-date and accurate.
  6. Ask an expert.  We offer free employee benefits reviews for anyone, so if you want a second opinion on the options offered by your employer, contact us and let us do some of the heavy lifting.
These 7 simple steps can help you make the most of your benefits.  Do you have any questions about the benefits you’re offered at your workplace?  Contact us and we’re glad to help you find the answers.