#9: Respect

Very simply, respect is the ability to find a reason to admire and appreciate others. Respect provides a foundation for healthy friendships, relationships and work and home environments.

The first step is to recognize what respect looks and feels like. Learn how to practice it, and how to give it to those around you that you value.

In return, reflect on what it feels like when you are respected. You feel positive, encouraged, optimistic and secure. In contrast, when you are in an environment or relationship that lacks respect, you will feel hurt, insecure and negative.

Reflecting on respect will help you define the qualities of people that you want to invest in and build relationships with. Equally importantly, we want you to be aware when you are not being respected and are feeling the effects. A ‘friend’ who only turns to you when they need something. A relationship where saying hurtful things is considered ‘normal’.

Do not forget to respect yourself. Taking care of your mental and physical health is a form of respecting yourself.

Recognize what respect looks like from and to others. That will help you avoid or correct toxic situations or people early. It will also help you assess what people and situations you let into your life. Do not stay long where you are not respected.

#8: Keep Moving

“If you are going through hell, keep going” – Winston Churchill

As a teen you will encounter new situations and challenges, and it will be easy to get discouraged or overwhelmed. A small misstep, a slight from a friend, bad performance on a test … any of these may cause you to doubt yourself, or worse, stop trying and wallow in your misery. Your emotions are still developing and are sensitive and volatile.

No matter how hard things appear, remember the sun will still rise tomorrow. And a new day full of possibilities will be yours again. Your challenge or hurt, however insurmountable it may feel today, will get easier to handle. With time, you will wonder why you worried so much.

Develop the faith and confidence to keep moving. No matter what the world throws at you, this is one very powerful thing you can control.

Investing through a bear market

Wow! a 650 point drop on the eve of Christmas….to round off almost a 20% drop in the indexes.

In our view, these market gyrations exist to serve only one purpose … to scare the small investor into selling at a loss at the worst possible time.

Three thoughts :

  1. It is nice to have a paid off house … our house is still as warm and comforting as ever and has not shrunk 20% in size. Hard assets provide a good balance to the portfolio.
  2. We believe that the US economy is well positioned relative to the rest of the world. Reacting to the short term stock market fluctuations would be speculative and ill advised.
  3. Our portfolio throws off a good amount of income which will be reinvested as per schedule. No change in strategy at the notgogentle household.

Merry Christmas everyone!

#7: Find your people

Everybody needs friends – the right kind

The desire to fit in and belong is natural, particularly among kids growing into young adults. This is also the time when you will be sensitive and easily hurt when people exclude you for any reason. “I don’t have any friends,” is a common refrain.

It is hard, but you need to be choosy on who you let into your world as a friend. If people are excluding you, that could be a gift. You do not want to hang out with people that are a bad influence, or want to connect with you for their selfish ends.

Next, think about what friendship means to you. A friend will help you, support you and make you feel good about yourself. Over time, they will be people you can count on anytime you need a helping hand or support.

It will help to know what you need and appreciate in a friend. It is likely you enjoy similar activities, or have similar perspectives on life. You may know know it yet, but you are starting to develop values that you care about – honesty, respect, support, optimism and more. If your friends have different values, you will get surprised and occasionally, hurt.

Remember three things. Groups of people who hang out are not necessarily friends. You do not need to belong in order to feel confident about yourself. Next, true friends in life will number less than the fingers on your hands. They are a precious and rare commodity. When you find one, work hard to keep them. Finally, having no friends is better than having the wrong friends.

Once you take control of your social universe, define and find your people, you are setting a good foundation of healthy relationships and friendships that will last a lifetime.

#6: Change works both ways

As our first born gets ready to enter college, and the world at large it is natural to think about all the challenges they may face. While we cannot control the challenges, we can address how we face them. One simple piece of advice I got from my parents has always stayed with me and comforted me when needed.

If things are tough today or have not been going your way for a while, remember this … change works both ways. Nobody is lucky forever, but by the same logic, nobody is unlucky forever. Just as easily things turned for the negative, you can and should expect things will be positive for you soon. So be patient, keep moving and don’t be a victim.

Accept the change, and wait for your time in the sunshine to come. The more you practice this, the more this pattern will become familiar.

How to lose a Rolls Royce in 180 days … and not worry

The current market turmoil presents a good opportunity to recall the importance of having a financial strategy and sticking to it.

I remember the 2008 crisis well. We had a small amount of money and lost $50k. It was surreal to just sit there and watch large amounts of money vanish. I remember wondering at the time where that money went, and if there was an equivalent gainer somewhere in the financial universe.

Today, at the face of it, the situation is similar. The graph below shows our investment performance.

A Rolls Royce vanishes

In 6 months, our investments have declined by $290k. I am sure that is enough for a slightly used Rolls Royce if we had a need for such a thing.

Most importantly, I am confident in the investment strategy behind this portfolio so paper losses will come and go and we plan to ride them out. This portfolio still produces the income that we would want from it. I am confident that the value of the portfolio will follow the market and recover along with it. We will follow along and report the progress accordingly.

This is what sticking to your guns with your financial strategy looks like. Follow along to see how we fare in the monthly updates.

Work stress and health

Weight loss since deciding to leave an unfulfilling job

The day I decided that my current job and I were done, it felt like a weight lifted from my frame. I felt lighter and better and the stress started to fade. Interestingly, my sleep got better as did my eating. The beginning of the graph represents August and my starting weight measurement of 189lb. Over about 4 months, with controlled eating, regular walks and no work stress, I am down 18 lbs and feel better than ever. My goal is to keep going down to 160 lb though I seem to have hit a plateau that resists going below 170. Will add more walking and some weights to the mix.

A bad work environment extracts a price. Stress is one of the hidden costs.

#5: Balance and an average life

Modern achievement based culture, especially culture in the USA is based on the purported need to be above average, excellent or to stand out. This is reinforced in school, all the way through the workplace where trappings of success constantly remind us of the game, and our position in it.

In a wonderful essay by Clayton Christensen titled “How will you measure your life”, he wonders how his class of Harvard classmates produced people who went to jail, destroyed the trust and lives of others, suffered through unhappy marriages and emotionally distant kids. Certainly none of them intended to end up that way.

His thesis is that career rewards are immediate and visible. Investments in family, relationships and longer term anchors of happiness take years, if not decades to bear fruit. Because of this, we often trade a hour with a child for a work email and over time, we stray from pursuing the things that give us true happiness. You can find the full essay on google.

I believe that an ‘average’ life, well-lived is an exceptional achievement. To be able to enjoy family, kids, the everyday joys of home, relationships, satisfaction of productive work and no major life or emotional devastation is not easy. So first, you have to disregard the consumerist messages and respect your goal and desire to have a well lived life. Next, realize that a lot of money in the bank does no make up for the sorrow of a kid who loses their way in life. That is where balance comes in, as do compromises and tradeoffs. We often feel guilty for investing in home, family and a modest lifestyle in exchange for more time, less money and peace of mind. That is wrong.

It is one thing to be able to define priorities. Allocating time according to those priorities is harder. Though the kids are still small, we talk to them often about the value of balance, simplicity, and the self confidence to resist outward messages to diminish their choices.

Let noone else define what balance should mean for you, and remember, an average well lived life is an exceptional achievement…the truest sign that you have won the race :).

#4: Faith in yourself

Develop extreme self confidence and a healthy ego. Right from an early age, people and circumstances will try to test you and cause you to doubt yourself. Our marketing driven society runs on making people feel inadequate and turn suggesting they spend in order to fill that void. This impulse is so strong that it takes almost superhuman effort to resist.In toxic work environments, breaking people down is an art form.

If you feel pressured to conform or do something because ‘everyone does it’ … learn to resist and question it. Especially in the USA, anything that is strongly hyped or marketed needs to be objectively evaluated. Kids may not realize what is fact and what is marketing.

In the workplace, a common ruse is the use of fancy titles. Being a ‘XYZ Leader’ or ‘Vice President’ of something seems magnetic until you realize you are signing away your time, health and sanity for a few words that nobody cares about. I have seen so may cases of people miserable and slowly dying inside a bad job choice due to title. If it does not make sense for you, no matter the attraction, don’t do it. Learn to make your own, good choices.

Finally, and most importantly, find a place of peace and trust .. whether family, faith or friends where you can retreat, recharge and come out full of confidence. Make sure you love yourself, have faith in yourself, protect your mental equilibrium and feel good about life. If any circumstance is interfering with that, think about a strategy to deal with it.

You cannot eliminate feelings of insecurity, inferiority or other negativity … but you can minimize their access through your fortress of self confidence.