What 2019 Has Taught Me So Far

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what 2019 has taught me so far

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Well we’re a good way into 2019 now so I thought it might be a good time to write a post on what 2019 has taught me so far.

It’s been a great year and even though we’re only three months in, I’ve grown a lot and am definitely prioritizing differently than I did in 2018. Keep reading to learn what 2019 has taught me so far

I can’t keep up with the Joneses, the Smiths, or anybody else

Through my entire life, I’ve always struggled with my tendency to want to keep up the Joneses. Well, it’s the Joneses these days. When I was ten I wanted to keep up with Jeremy, the snarky kid next door who had the bike with shocks and made fun of me and my Wal-Mart Huffy. 

Over the last decade of adulthood though, it’s been the same story. I’m constantly comparing what I have to what my neighbors and friends have.

How did they buy a new RV, we can’t afford one!

If the Joneses can get a new van, I want one too!

How can they afford to go to Disneyland? Dude makes the same amount of money as me!

It’s exhausting, and it’s a game that nobody can win. One family gets a new pickup truck, another buys a boat, and another one goes on a vacation every year. Everybody has their own priorities and values and good for them for doing what works best for them.

It’s the most aggravating thing to constantly be comparing myself to others and worrying about how my lifestyle compares to theirs. Fortunately, I’ve arrived at a conclusion: I don’t give a rip what Jim and Nancy do with their holidays.

My wife and I need to build our life and spend our money according to our values and our priorities, regardless of what our neighbors and friends are doing. I’m really trying to take this to heart and be genuinely happy for my friends when they succeed, while maintaining my own priorities.

A good morning routing changes everything

I wake up for work at 6am most days. As an insomniac, I’m often exhausted at that time. A good breakfast and a stretch works wonders to make me feel better prepared to take on the day.

Another habit I’m trying to keep up is reading over my goals first thing in the morning so they’re fresh in my head for the day. It definitely helps me be more productive and focused on the things that are important to me.

Taking just 10 minutes to get focused and do something good for my body has really improved how I feel heading into the day.

It’s worth spending money to take care of my body

Between being a husband, father to three energetic (destructive) kids, full-time employee and part-time blogger, my life is pretty full.

Over the last few years I’ve struggled with stress, anxiety and insomnia in a major way. While I could have just shrugged it off in my 20s, as I get a little older my body doesn’t bounce back as fast.

I’ve started budgeting a little extra money to take care of myself when I need it. A few times per year I go and get a massage, treat myself to a meal out every now and again and take a bit of time off just for me.

I’ve been putting more research into purchases such as work boots and considering how they will make my week easier or more difficult. Do I really want to save $50 at the expense of sore feet every day.

Nope. In 2019, I’m buying the nice boots, which leads me into my next point…

Buy nicer things, but buy fewer of them

I am so sick and tired of crap. The age of Amazon, Wal-Mart and Costco has lead me to believe that it’s more important to have one of everything, than to prioritize a few things that really add value to my life.

Earlier this year I bought myself a new cell phone. As always, I was tempted to buy the bargain-basement model from two years ago that could probably handle the tasks I use it for.

It really wasn’t what I wanted though, and it wouldn’t have made me happy to use. I use my phone all day for work, photos, blogging and entertainment. It’s probably the single most-used thing that I own and it was 100% worth it to me to buy the better phone.

It’s a Pixel 3 by the way, and I love it.

It’s rewarding to get rid of things

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of living in 1250sq/ft with two adults and three children, you know exactly what I mean. It feels amazing to purge. The ever-expanding collection of what amounts to junk creates a lot of stress in my life, and it feels great to get rid of stuff.

I know I’m not the only one. This is why the show ‘Tidying Up With Marie Kondo’ is so popular on Netflix right now. We all like to purge. It feels good to open up space and get rid of stuff. All of the extra things in our lives take up physical space, but they also take up mental space. When I purge, I can feel the mental space open up, and it’s fantastic.

Ignore the trolls and time-wasters

There are a lot of jerks out there, most of them hang out on the internet, or at the 4-way stop near my house.

Having been in the blogging community for years, I’ve heard some version of ‘ignore the trolls’ many times. It’s always felt a little cliche and honestly, disingenuous to me. Some bloggers label anybody who disagrees with them a ‘troll’ or a ‘hater’, which is only sometimes true.

Occasionally, readers have valid criticisms that are worthy of our consideration. The key for me has been learning who to engage and who to ignore. If a person leaves a thoughtful and respectful comment on my site and disagrees with my points, I’m happy to respond and maybe start a dialogue. If they’re just spewing verbal diarrhea and really have no cohesive counter-argument to what I’ve said, I’m not even going to bother.

As 2019 progresses, I will have to keep checking myself on this. For reasons that I don’t entirely understand, the most popular article on this site is a post where I highlight the reasons that I no longer follow Dave Ramsey. It draws in a lot of traffic and comments and from time to time, some colorful characters come along and offer their opinions.

As that post keeps drawing people to my site for better or worse, I need to remember that some folks just aren’t worth the trouble.

I need to slow down

Throughout my life I’ve had two speeds – 100% and 0%. I’ve always found it difficult to slow down and enjoy what’s happening, right here and now, because I’ve already moved on to planning dinner, bedtime or whatever is next.

I’ve learned that it’s important to slow down and actually enjoy things. Just sit and enjoy a beer and a sunset without needing my mind to be constantly active, either doing some unimportant thing on my phone, or mentally planning what’s next in my day.

I’m going to slow down, smell the roses and take a few extra seconds to hold the door open for somebody. My stress level goes down a lot when I’m not rushing, and I need to learn how to do that more.

I’m saying no more than I ever have, and I love it

When my wife and I first got married, we said yes to every single thing that came along. Church obligations, work stuff, social get-togethers, family engagements etc. I didn’t know how to say no, and neither did she.

One of the healthiest things we have done for ourselves personally and for our marriage is to start saying no more often. It feels awesome and frees up more time and energy to do things that you actually want to do.

When we stop over stuffing our calendar with obligations we have more of ourselves to give. We have more time to invest in ourselves, our kids and the relationships that we want to grow. We can bring a meal to the new parents who just had a baby because we’ve got the time to prepare it, or do an impromptu trip to the beach because we actually have the evening off.

Life has been so much better since I learned to say no.

Well that’s what 2019 has taught me so far, what about you? What have you learned?

Care to share?

7 thoughts on “What 2019 Has Taught Me So Far”

  1. Great article Mike! I always appreciate the honesty in your writing. Makes it real and relatable.

    Trying not to keep up with the Joneses (or Jeremys) is something I’ve worked hard to overcome.

    It was really tough with our previous neighbours next door. Our houses are identical. (The houses were built at the same time by the same builder).

    Except… every room in their house looked like a page out of a Pottery Barn catalogue. Ours? Let’s just say IKEA is high-end for us!

    Every time we came home from visiting them, I had to work on not feeling embarrassed with our regular-looking decor!

    Now we have a new, totally practical and down-to-earth neighbor and we adore him. 🙂

    Here’s hoping we all continue to learn and grow as much as you already have this year!

  2. Great insights, Mike.

    I hear ya with the keeping up with the Joneses part. Even if it’s just comparing yourself to the Joneses. I constantly find myself sizing up what people buy and wondering how they can afford it. (news flash: they probably can’t.) You’re absolutely right, though. It doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing. You do you. I find that I constantly have to remind myself of that. Probably will have to for a while longer, too.

    As a fellow insomniac, I completely understand the rough mornings. I love the idea of looking over your goals first thing each morning. I think I may need to try that, too.

  3. This was great, Mike!

    One big lesson for me has been that it’s okay to buy nice things. Being in the personal finance space, I felt kinda weird about it and would downplay purchases I thought were “too expensive.” However, I came to realize that we don’t have to justify ourselves to anyone. As long as we’re not spending above our means and are still able to make progress on our goals, that’s all that matters.

    Also, I completely agree with you about the power of saying no. I read Essentialism by Greg McKeown a few years ago, and it was life-changing for me. If you haven’t already read it, you might be interested.

    • Yep, everybody has different needs, wants and priorities. When I started this blog I had much stronger opinions about things but I’ve learned that what’s right for me is definitely not right for everybody.

      I’ll check that book out, I drive a truck all day so I’m always looking for new audiobooks 🙂

  4. A good reminder to slow down and take care of ourself first instead of chasing the lives of others. My husband and I have made a lot of the same priority changes toward the end of last year – we’ve lost a little weight, eat better and exercise and it’s really helped change our perspective on what is important.

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