On Friday I promised to write an article similar to Craig Ballantyne’s “The 12 Rules I Live By” (which if you haven’t read yet, I highly recommend—he’s an extremely successful and genuinely good guy).
Thinking about and writing down your guiding principles or “rules to live by” is a great exercise, and I hope you’ll take the time to create and write down your own when you can.
My rules are slightly different than Craig’s as I am a different person (obviously…) and I also have a husband and two little girls. In general, though, I agree with him on everything, and I read the first part of his Rule #1 with extreme longing:
“I go to bed and get up at the same time 7 days per week (9pm and 5am.) I do not deviate from this schedule unless it is due to an important (and this word is not used lightly) work or social function.”
This is a great rule, and I would give almost anything to get 8 blissful hours of sleep each night! But with a husband with an erratic schedule and two little girls who still get sick and/or have a nightmare and need Mommy at 2am, or 3am, or last night it was 3:30am with my youngest, I typically fall far short of this. But I’m not giving up…I do give it my best shot but usually fall way short. And I love sleep (as you know if you’ve been reading awhile)…LOVE sleep!
But this brings me to my very first rule…
#1: Personal Responsibility. I take personal responsibility for everything in my life, for myself, for my actions and decisions, and for the resulting consequences, no matter what.
That is why I stress “almost” in the sentence above, because even though I would love to get 8 hours of sleep each and every night, there is one decision that I’ve made that precludes that…I allow our little girls to come to us in the night when they are sick or have a nightmare or need Mommy or Daddy.
So even though I fall short of getting 8 hours of sleep many nights, I don’t spend a lot of time whining about it (although if you ask my husband he might disagree…LOL). But I try not to whine about it, because I do know at the end of the day it is my choice—I am the one who chooses to let our girls come to us in the night if they need us instead of putting in earplugs and locking the door (tempting though it is at times!). 🙂
I’m sure it wouldn’t be hard to just “give up” and say, “hmm, well, sure, it’s easy for Craig because he doesn’t have kids” or “hmm, well that’s easy for Warren Buffett because he’s a billionaire” or “hmm, well that’s easy for so-and-so to do because…”.
But I’ve found in my life that everyone’s got their “stuff” that makes their life difficult and their own personal challenges, and it really does no good to play the victim. I would rather channel my kung fu and kick some ass than sit around whining about why everything is “so hard” (although I’m not perfect, and again if you ask Kung Fu Guy, you might get a slightly different picture of the amount of whining! LOL).
But I do strive to go to bed and get up at the same time each day, barring little midnight visitors.
2. I am grateful and appreciative for all that I am and all that I have every day.
While I don’t have a written gratitude journal per se, and without getting too religious/spiritual on you, I do give thanks to God/the Universe/the Great Being/Buddha/Allah/One Love at least three times a day for my and my family’s health, safety, and happiness. In fact, I say a little prayer before each meal thanking the above spiritual-oneness for keeping us safe, happy, healthy, warm, loved, and together. I’ve been saying that little quick silent prayer of thanks since I was about 10 years old (the “warm” is because I grew up in Northern Michigan, and it’s cold there!).
3. I abide by the “Golden Rule” (the real one…not “he who has the gold, makes the rules!”)
I was blessed (or cursed, depending on how you look at it…) with a huge dose of empathy for others. Frankly, I would probably be more “successful” without it, as somewhat-snarky blogs tend to do a lot better than “nice” (which sometimes comes across as “boring”) blogs.
For example, I could write a post on “10 Reasons Why Suze Orman Sucks” or “Jim Cramer Knows Nothing” and I’m sure it would have a 99% open rate and tons of comments, and possibly even go viral, because it’s controversial and interesting and just a little mean.
But I can’t. I can’t write that because even though I disagree with a lot of their advice, it breaks the golden rule principle. I would be crushed if someone wrote something like that about me. I guess if it were just the title to get the email “opened” and the rest of the article was a thoughtful debate on specific topics I could stomach it, maybe, but really, how “thoughtful” is something with a title of “101 Reasons Why So-and-So Sucks?”. I could never write something on the Internet that I wouldn’t say to someone in person, and I never ever would want to make someone else feel bad, even a “celebrity” (they are still people). I would lose sleep over that for weeks, if not months, and we’ve already talked about how important sleep is to me!
So, the golden rule, I actually live it, even though it makes me pretty “boring” (although I do believe it is possible to have an opinion without being a jerk).
4. I work very hard, but play very hard too (Life is meant to be lived/enjoyed).
This is pretty self-explanatory—I’ve always been an extremely hard worker, but ask anyone who knows me and you’ll find that I play pretty hard too. (Otherwise what’s all that work for???)
5. Health: I get at least 7 hours of sleep each night, eat whole / organic / non-processed food to the extent possible, and move my butt each day (some days more than others).
This has evolved over the years as our family has grown—it’s much more difficult to do hardcore workouts than it used to be (either need to leave your kids in daycare at the gym or take turns with your spouse, you can’t just “up and go”), but on the flip side it’s a lot of fun to do family sports and we spend a lot of weekends at the park and in the pool/lake. Our youngest is finally old enough for ski school, too, so that’s exciting. We do try to eat healthily as a family, but I have the same struggles as most parents—I refuse to cook 6 different “dinners” and what do you do when one child will ONLY eat mac-n-cheese? But that’s a subject for another blog…perhaps “Kung Fu Parenting” or “Kung Fu Mama”! LOL.
6. I keep things simple (to the extent that I can).
I don’t just “preach” that here on Kung Fu Finance, I really do live my life that way. Life is complicated enough without me mucking it up and making it harder than it already is.
For example, I consider myself to be much more of an investor than a “trader” (and this is not to disparage any traders out there, but I myself am not a day-trader…I am a “week”-trader, usually a “month”-trader, and I often hold investments for even longer than that (though not “forever” as Wall Street would like you to do!).
I prefer the simplicity of getting the big trends correct (e.g. the precious metals bull market, the upcoming bond bear market, etc.) and riding those trends, rather than the complexity of learning all of the intricate fancy things you can do with options on a minute-by-minute basis. Yes, I use options, but I’m not trying to over-complicate my life—at the end of the day I just want to accomplish two things:
- Make a lot of money
- Not lose money
I will write a future post on the Money Rules I Live By!
7. I do what I say I will do.
This is just basic integrity…I do my best to keep my word and apologize profusely if I ever need to break it due to unforeseen circumstances and do whatever I can to make amends.
If I am guided by one or two phrases it would have to be these:
1. “To hell with circumstances; I create opportunities” — Bruce Lee (See my Rule #1)
2. “Never, ever, EVER give up” and “You only fail if you quit” — Craig Ballantyne (You have no idea how many times per day/week I recite this to myself!)
My typical schedule:
7:00AM – Wake up
7:00 – 8:00 – Check markets, Shower, breakfast, get girls ready for school (dressed, fed, teeth brushed, bags together, etc.)
8:00 – 9:00 – School drop-off
9:00 – noon – Write
noon – 12:30 – Check markets, lunch
12:30 – 3:30 – Write
3:30 – 4:30 – School pick-up
4:30 – 5:30 – Dinner prep, serve kiddos, clean up
5:30 – 8:00 – Play, read, homework, bath, teeth, story
9:00 – Girls in bed
9:00 – 11:00 – Talk with Kung Fu Guy, write, read, plan next day
This is more “ideal” than actual, but it’s what I strive towards.
I hope this is helpful…I feel a little weird posting this as it doesn’t directly relate to becoming financially independent, but then again, maybe it does…I do believe these rules (or habits) have really served me well over the years, and I know if you develop some of your own you will reap the benefits, too.
What are you waiting for? 🙂
Back to money-money-money and investing tomorrow!
To your financial success,
— Kung Fu Girl