The Road Ahead

Four recent reads.

A neat concept from Pasricha is to view a week as three bins of time.

  • 168 hours in a week.
  • Splitting into thirds, we get three bins of 56 hours.
  • Most folks drop two bins (112 hours) into sleep, work and commute.
  • Leaving 56 hours for everything else, which happens to be the subject of his book.

The author encourages us to have a look at our allocation. Here’s mine…

  • Sleep and unscheduled personal time – 65 hours
  • Kids — meals, bedtime, homework, housework, dad time and school drops – 40 hours
  • Exercise, strength training, time in nature – 21 hours
  • Admin, taxes, legal, finances, writing – 15 hours
  • Travel, Driving – 15 hours
  • Open, Reading – 12 hours

When I bring energetic action, time and expert instruction to an area of my life… I get results.

If it’s not happening then it’s not a priority.

Better to tell the truth — especially to myself!

Younger Next Year was written for Baby Boomers but I found it entertaining and useful.

Around 2030, I’m going to have a 40-hour slice of time land in my lap. Leaving my desk job in 2000, I have been through much of the author’s story. What I haven’t dealt with is aging and decay!

This winter, I learned to ski well. Learning to ski was humbling — I found myself lacking in absolute power, power endurance and quickness. Add that experience to the gradual deterioration of my vision. Aging and decay!

Through an explanation of Harry’s Rules, the book reminded me of other potential gaps in my life — connection, commitment, passion.

“Kids” have taken a big slice of time in my forties. Because we’re likely to have another 15,000 hours to come, I’ve been working on up-skilling everyone.

Some day the “kid” slice will be gone. My marriage will remain.

The two books by Gray (as well as The Soul of the Marionette) were fabulous and challenged the narrative my local community tells itself.

When I’m doing, connected and engaged…

…I don’t overthink any passing emotional state.

It’s worth making an effort to fill-the-gaps.

It wasn’t enough

When I follow my own advice, life is better.

At the back of my mind, especially with kids, I have a desire for life to be “easy.”

My desire makes me chuckle because my “easy days” are often boring.

Based on eight years of parenting… easy is not going to happen so focusing on “better” is a smarter option.

From time to time my appetites come up with ideas to make my life _even_ better.

  • These ideas might be small — five beers, two burgers, large fries and couple desserts
  • They might be large — a vacation property with a cost of ownership that doubles my core cost of living
  • Many fall in between — clothes, vacations, sports equipment, alcoholic beverages, risk-seeking friends

These desires pop up as an emotion associated with pleasure, excitement or release.

Certain choices, situations and people are associated with bad outcomes.

Despite an association with pleasure, excitement or release… many of my desires are highly-likely to lead me to bad outcomes.

To tame my appetites, I pause and consider the last time I gave into that specific appetite…

I ask myself…

Was it enough?

It was never enough. Not even close!

I remember always wanting more, even while I was getting what I wanted.

My desires are frequent, but my specific desires are fleeting.

They come and they go.

If it wasn’t enough then maybe I should find a better way to live….

…and that’s the system that I’ve been sharing.

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What’s your system?

Is it working?

Sleep

2016-11-26-12-06-54Sleep, exercise, kindness and childcare are the foundation of my marriage.

Here’s what works for us…

  • Optimize so every member of our family sleeps well
  • Train someone to put our kids to sleep so Mom & Dad’s nervous system get a scheduled 24-hour reset on our weekly date night(s)
  • Exercise the kids
  • Use the same routine — save energy for managing inevitable surprises

As a couple, the payoff is huge… more sex (!), better moods, less bickering, better body composition, more energy, better cognition…

If you’re looking for romance then start by improving everyone’s sleep.

2016-10-23-16-05-28Saying “no” to sleep deprivation is a difficult — you might need to say “no” to pets, friends, family, extracurricular activities.

2016-10-04-18-06-32We have a family sleep system.

Our kids (4, 5 and 8) nap on all non-school days. The minimum acceptable nap is 60-minutes alone in a dark, cool room.

  • Routine
  • Separate Rooms
  • Blackout Shades

The nap gives everyone an emotional reset and splits the day in half. Often, we need a fresh start!

Sleep is non-negotiable. Obviously, we can’t force the kids to fall asleep but we can exercise them, model the desired behavior and insist on their staying in bed without electronics.

We have colored digital clocks and everyone knows to stay in their rooms until the “Green Seven.”

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Once again, consider the opposite of the bullets (above). If that sounds like your household then you have tremendous upside!

Regime Change

2016-11-24-19-02-19A friend asked for my thoughts about “what he should do” regarding the changes that are about to happen within the US Government.

My quick answer was “do nothing.”

2016-11-25-16-16-29..but there is a lot we can do.

I spent the days after the election teaching my kids to read, helping with math and working on the family’s open water skills.

My advice to “do nothing” is based on the following…

#1 – if you are adjusting strategy more than once a decade then you don’t have an effective strategy // if you truly feel the need to change then there is a structural problem within your family plan

#2 – you should consider tweaking strategy when your life changes (not the ruling party) – unemployment, impending retirement, new dependents, less dependents, major illness, wealth transfers // external surprises are going to happen all the time — spend your emotional energy preparing yourself to stay-the-course, not feeding your fears

#3 – the best time to sell high-quality assets is “never”

2016-11-25-16-31-59#4 – all the emotional energy and financial wealth spent on elections is better allocated to the next generation of your family

#5 – the richest people in America are about to feel a whole lot richer // stay invested and, if you sell to rich people then, raise your prices

#6 – with Elaine Chao’s appointment, the pieces are falling in place for a major domestic infrastructure initiative — this strikes me as a whole lot better (for everyone) than nation building via Asian land wars

#7 – don’t build capacity, or leverage, to the peak // the next recession is likely to be large

#8 – there will be excellent buying opportunities in all our futures // I’ve been researching my next major purchase since before the last recession

2016-11-26-10-29-40The hive-mind has been wrong all year. Glaringly wrong!

I ask myself, “Have they ever been right?!”

Spending time infecting our minds with media noise is the worst thing we can do for clear thinking. Turn off the media, learn persuasion psychology and study history.

Know that the largest gains in your family’s human capital come from self-improvement, ever stronger marriages and educating the next generation.

  • Financially – stay the course
  • Individually – incremental positive change

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Financial Planning for Long-Term Success

2016-09-07-12-05-16November 1st is the start of open enrollment in the US healthcare sector. To celebrate, Unitedhealthcare notified me that my premiums are heading up by 25%. I wonder how the total compensation (salary, bonus, private jets, security, stock) of their senior people will compare to the next president’s cabinet?

I overreact to unexpected, but manageable, loses.

Perhaps you are the same?

2016-10-14-17-33-43It takes effort to make myself more rational, and avoid exposing my family to unnecessary suffering. Here, I include loss of happiness from worrying about the small stuff.

The antidote is to always frame negative surprises in the largest possible context.

Our premium change is…

  • …less than 1% of the increase in our net assets over the same period
  • …less than 0.25% of my family’s net worth
  • …less than 5% of my family’s core cost of living

The premium shock motivated me to take a deep dive into family assets, liabilities and expenditures.

We measure core cost of living in terms of healthcare, total taxation, education, food and housing (mortgage, taxes, insurance).

Our key discretionary items are childcare, vehicles, vacations, college funds and gifting.

2016-10-14-14-56-00When you’re looking at a budget, or a business, go deeper and consider…

  1. Sources of large changes in income // unemployment, vacancies, new initiatives
  2. Sources of large increases in expenses // lease rates, insurance premiums, tax rates
  3. Prudent future planning // long lifespans, persistent lower investment returns

What can go wrong? What can we do, when inevitable shocks arise?

What can go right? How can we increase our exposure to large positive outcomes?

  • Children
  • Education
  • Capacity to help others with high-value work
  • Equity investments
  • Voluntary simplicity – our greatest wealth creator

2016-10-15-09-42-33While no one can predict the future, the 30-year bond (2.5%) is indicating that prospective returns are likely to be less than any of us have seen across our adult lives.

Historically, financial freedom targets net assets equivalent to 25 years of core cost of living. While that might be true historically, have a careful look at your joint life expectancies and quantify your longevity risk.

Young couples need to consider 50-year retirements, with 0.5-1.0% real rates of return (before taxes, fees and expenses).This possible outcome is far different than what I was taught in school, or even considered five years ago.

Creating A Life With Meaning

2016-10-15-15-57-57Jonser made flag so I loaded up my Alpha Child and we headed out to Coronado.

I was looking for ideas about about leadership and creating a life with meaning.

2016-10-14-13-48-27We spent the day before at Legoland – a cover story for the trip!

lexi_pinningWe went full “Colorado” for the ceremony – pink cowgirl boots and hat.

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What do models and professional athletes have in common?

By the time they are one quarter of the way through their adult lives, the best days of their careers are behind them.

Here in Boulder, we can pay too much attention to race fitness and body fat percentage.

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2016-10-15-14-10-10So what did Jonser have to offer?

The first thing that strikes me with senior officers is how much they get done.

The trick is being challenged enough to bring out the best in ourselves but not so busy our health, family and marriage suffer.

On the flip side, drive without a socially desirable outlet leads to anti-social behaviors (addiction, aggression, promiscuity).

My Alpha Pup has stacks of motivation, loves rules and respects authority (that’s why she got the trip to Coronado). She also loves people.

2016-10-15-15-08-14Everyone who makes it through Aviation Officer Candidate School, or Med School or an MBA program has motivation.

What’s a key differentiating factor for success?

oathEmpathetic listening.

When Jonser listens to me, it is like I am the only person in the world.

Here is a skill that can be learned, and is often ignored by overachievers.

Listening is a tough one for high-energy folks — how can we get our minds to slow enough to admit external input?

I work on impulse control. Physical first, then spoken word, then relaxing with my thoughts.

As for empathy, my kids started at a buddhist preschool. The school taught the kids, and me, various techniques for taming our inner savage.

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2016-10-15-17-08-18So we have motivated, empathetic listeners, who have tamed themselves. What next?

Lifelong learning and investment in the “person” through ALL levels of the organization.

The military, teaching hospitals, ministry, parenthood — these paths have the opportunity to learn, teach and serve.

Is this a field where I am going to be able to learn for twenty years?

2016-10-15-18-21-13

 

Passion

What were you talking about the last time you were the most animated person in the conversation?

2016-09-18-18-01-09There’s information inside your passion.

Write it down!


In my case, I was talking about trying to be a father within a successful marriage.

A young wife will have a portfolio of needs, biases and desires.

As a husband, and new father, you are going to have your own portfolio of ideas for success.

Avoid the error of seeking to change your spouse…

…instead, be the best person you can be, while seeking to understand your core needs.

Remember…

When you are under stress, you are going to have a tendency to assign blame to your partner — stop this immediately — it is counterproductive. Try a week as a single parent and remember your family needs all the help it can get.

If you ask around (about your “problems”) then you will find out the parenting experience is universal. A better way to frame your household is your “new reality!”

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Many of my friends have a tendency to frame fatherhood (and marriage) as a negotiation.

I think there is a more effective way, than trying to outwit, outplay and outlast your life partner.

  • Be clear and consistent about your own needs.
  • Be willing to work to get your needs met.
  • Support your partner’s needs.

Childcare is an area where couples stress themselves, and their marriage, to save from their family budget.

Most my peers have the ability to earn a multiple of their babysitter’s hourly pay. Allocate four hours of work per week — invest the incremental income in time spent as a couple and time spent alone.

A wise allocation of time can bring you closer as a couple and keep you from tipping over the edge with your kids.