10 Habits for Financial Independence | Briefing v6.0
This week we’re lightening the mood a bit and breaking down 10 habits and behaviors which have been shown to support and optimize one’s overall health, mental clarity, and most importantly, performance to best achieve one’s financial independence goal(s).
Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor will your goals be accomplished overnight. Rather than logging 16 hour work days or 72 hour coding ‘marathons’ followed by crashes, it’s been proven time and again that habit-forming and establishing a disciplined daily routine is most sustainable and yields the highest probability of success in your pursuit. Whether your objective is to wake up early, exercise more, work on a passion project, or simply spend more time with your loved ones, adding
a new priority to your daily routine and sticking with it
usually yields the best results.
Go to bed early.
This goes hand-in-hand with waking up early, but the key to waking up early isn’t just setting your alarm earlier, but rather calling it a night proportionately earlier. Those 5am alarms are a lot more feasible if you were asleep by 10pm the preceding night, versus going to bed at midnight. It’s important to consider that going to bed or waking up early is not supposed to be a quick three week fad. It’s supposed to be a sustainable lifestyle change for the foreseeable future. If the only variable you change is the time you wake up and not what time you go to sleep, this potentially extremely productive and life-enhancing habit will only be temporary at best.
Most important task first.
Psychologically, many people know what the most pressing item on their to-do list is any given day. However, it is often unpleasant (or so we perceive it), difficult, or enduring. This is why many people distract themselves or procrastinate in order to fruitlessly avoid addressing the underlying task at hand. Too often we justify checking email, answering unimportant calls or texts, running errands or even searching for busy-work as a means of staving off the most important task. Do yourself a favor and prioritize it first thing in the morning, painful as it may seem. The mental satisfaction and quantifiable results of having conquered your most dreaded (probably because it’s significant) task of the day will most likely put your mind at ease and bode well for your work performance and results.
Schedule rigid time blocks.
Each day there are certain menial tasks that elicit our attention for at least some time in a day. Some people are more fortunate than others, but most are responsible on a daily basis for responding to calls, texts, emails, calendar and social media notifications, snail mail, and more, which can consume inordinate amounts of time if left unchecked. Inspired by Tim Ferriss’ 4 Hour Work Week, we recommend scheduling rigid and defined time blocks for low value time-consuming tasks such as these. Limit checking email to twice per day, once in the morning for urgent messages, and again after lunch for similar requests or fires to put out. We’re confident you’ll find most things can wait.
Automate everything possible.
One of the most convenient luxuries of living in the Post-Industrial age is the rapid advancement of and low barrier to entry to the Internet. As the payment remittance industry migrates away from physical paper onto the World Wide Web, services such as banking, invoicing and payroll, utilities, credit card and loan payments, insurance, and more are consumer-accessible online. Leverage this modern convenience to graduate from slow, unreliable snail mail and set up automatic bill payments, bank account direct deposit from work, monthly retirement contributions, student loan payments, credit card statements, monthly health insurance, even your Con Edison utility bill! This accomplishes two things: 1) Saves time by deferring from manually pay bills or monitor financial accounts on a recurring monthly basis anymore, and 2) Eliminates chance of incurring late charges by failing to remember to pay your credit card this month. This is a classic win-win.
While on the subject of automation, how about something one does multiple times per day, everyday? When your goals are bigger than your stomach, finding a strategy to save time and money on meals kills two birds with one stone. Spend one afternoon a week grocery shopping, cooking, and parsing nutrient-dense foods into a dozen or so meal-sized food containers, and plan your meals out for the week. Meal prepping can reduce your food expenses from 30-60%, is often more nutritious, and saves an inordinate amount of time over time otherwise spent dining out. It’s not glamorous, but it’s effective. There’s a reason top athletes do it.
In order to become financially independent, you’re really striving towards becoming the strongest version of yourself. We aren’t suggesting that if you don’t deadlift 405x5 you won’t reach financial independence. However, we are advocating that consistent, healthy habits and behaviors, such as daily strength training, are well-aligned and supportive in becoming the strongest version of yourself, which is ultimately reaching and exceeding your financial independent goals. People who exercise daily tend to feel better mentally and physically (except maybe after leg day), feel more confident, and in turn, perform better. In the end, what we strive for are results. Carve out time everyday, be it early in the morning before work, during lunch, or at night. Again, consistency yields the best results.
Whatever it may be you’re trying to study, improve upon or build a business based on, someone has probably already written a book about it. A common trait amongst successful individuals is the desire to never stop learning. Having the mindset of a lifelong student is an absolute necessity to sustain an enduring, successful business, and there’s always information and perspectives, old or new, available on print. Industries, technology, society, legislature and people change; so, too, will your business, or else. Read everything possible on your discipline, skill, venture, or expertise, and you’ll soon find yourself better informed and probably more analytical as well.
While daily strength training (or otherwise) exercises your body, daily meditation exercises your mind (and sometimes body, too!). It’s easy to get caught up or lost in the daily rat race of working all day, deadlines, schedules, responding to people, after-work dinner and drinks with coworkers, maintaining a social life, and so on. In the blink of an eye, in living such a life lifestyle, weeks will pass by, then months, then years. Choose to live in the present and experience this very moment as it occurs. Carving out a brief 15 minute block for meditation to your daily routine to check in with yourself, block everything else out, and focus on the now. Many find this surprisingly refreshing, as studies show practicing daily meditation may reduce blood pressure, anxiety and depression, and insomnia. The popularity of meditation has exploded over the past 5 - 10 years, and for good reason. It’s simple, inexpensive, and effective, and merely requires a quiet space to practice breathing exercises for a short period of time.
Tie it all together and make things in your control work for you. Set and forget automated investments and contributions, allocate time exclusively for your side projects, ventures, or business ideas. Forget about happy hour with coworkers who dreadfully complain about work and choose to spend time with family or friends. Reprioritize and reallocate the resources at your disposal to focus on the goals most important to you and increase your probability of success. Long story short, learn to say ‘no.’ If all it took was skipping a few evenings of forgettable drinks and passing on overtime to get your business up and running that has even a chance at becoming something bigger and better, would you do it?