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If I Am Living a Good Life, Why Should I Bother Learning New Stuff?

If I Am Living a Good Life, Why Should I Bother Learning New Stuff?

A person might have a great job, a nice house, and a great group of friends. They might feel they have everything they need, and so, they just settle, stop moving and pushing themselves. After all, their life seems to be going fine. You might have seen this with friends or acquaintances.

This is fine for a time; but the problem is, while a person stops moving or stops pushing themselves, the world keeps spinning. Time moves forward. Staying in the same place and not seeking self-improvement has the exact same effect as moving backwards.

We are living in a period of technological and social advancement never before seen. Technology has moved and developed more over the past one hundred years, than it had in the previous thousand. With this speed of advancement, it is easy to fall behind. Even if a person’s life seems to be going well now, and they don’t seek improvement, several years down the line, they may find that their lack of advancement, the lack of development in important skills may cause big problems in their lives.

From Evolving to Settling

Human beings, homo sapiens have been on this planet for roughly one million years. At the beginning, humans had nothing to protect themselves in order to survive in the world.

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    So humans started to invent basic tools and formed basic languages in order to survive.

      After some time, humans were satisfied with the things they developed because that was enough for basic survival. They could simply stop learning and creating new stuff.

        It was okay to stop learning new stuff in order to survive until the 19th century, where the rate of technological advancement increased at a rapid pace. In just over sixty years, we went from the first flight by the Wright Brothers to men walking on the moon.

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        A few years later, with the widespread popularity of personal computers, the rate of human progress exploded. This is of course, an over simplification. But think about it, for the first time in history, not seeking self improvement, not moving forward with the rate of human progress, can be extremely dangerous. It’s perfectly possible for someone to fall behind the rate of technological and human progress.

        This isn’t just a vague possibility either. In the UK, it has been estimated that one in five is under threat of being automatized.[1] A person today who is comfortable in their job may find themselves replaced by a machine tomorrow. Many, many people might soon find themselves out of a job.

        Even outside of the job market, technology has changed our lives in countless ways. The average, most basic smartphone is a camera, a diary, a computer, a gaming device, a store, a library, a web browser, a clock, a telephone, a TV…and can be far more with extra apps.

        Not long at all ago, each of these things would have been a separate (and potentially very expensive) device, some would be impossible to carry around with you. It’s easy to take for granted. But imagine if you never got a smartphone and was happy with what you had before. You’d have missed out on a great deal of convenience.

        How to Stay Ahead

        Ultimately, no matter how hard you try, it’s impossible to predict how things will change over the next few years. We don’t know what skills will or won’t be needed. Nor do we know how our lives may change over the next few years. Something as simple as a new piece of technology can have an incredible impact on our lives (just think about the smartphone example from before). Because of this, you need to be ready to adapt and not fall into the trap of brief contentment.

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        Keep testing what you know

        We all know how important it is to learn new skills, but again, it is easy to become quickly content with what you have, and with it, stop seeking improvement.  This is illogical. If you stop trying to improve your skills, you’ll find that your skill level doesn’t stay on the same level, but instead decreases. In addition, the market for that skill is ever changing.

        It’s like when you test a tool or device you have, to examine its functionality. Is it wind-proof or water-proof? There is no point keeping a tool that can’t do its job after all.

          It can be useful to pick one of your skills or an area of your life, then critically evaluate it. Ask yourself, how useful is it going to remain? How is it going to adapt or change to changing circumstances?

          Lets relate this example to writing skill. The standards and styles expected of a writer are constantly changing. The internet has had a big impact on the way people read and interact with a piece of text. A writer today needs to be aware of this. Were a writer to stop paying attention to the changing marketplace, and the things expected of them, then they’ll be less useful as a writer.

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          Ditch the outdated and equip with the better

          After reviewing your skills and knowledge, you’ll be able to decide which should be ditched and which should be improved. It’s like throwing away old tools and devices that don’t work or are no longer useful, and replacing them with new, better ones.

            A careful evaluation of things in your life and your skills can be extremely useful. With it, you’ll be better able to see what might need changing or adapting, and what might be worth forgetting about.

            So although it is impossible to predict exactly how the world will change, with consideration of your skills and a desire to adapt, you’ll be able to find that you’re able to stay ahead of a changing world.

            I know it can be easy to become content, at the same time, pushing yourself and seeking change can be tough. But ultimately, this is something that can’t be sustained.

            Reference

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            Brian Lee

            Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

            100 Incredible Life Hacks That Make Life So Much Easier 10 Best New Products That People Don’t Know About Book Summary: The Power of Habit in 2 Minutes 1 Minute Book Summary: How To Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less 2 Minutes Book Summary: Thinking Fast and Slow

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            Last Updated on August 20, 2019

            How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

            How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

            Finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. And that’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

            In this article, we will explore ways on how to set financial goals and then actually meet them with ease.

            5 Steps to Set Financial Goals

            Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task but if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps:

            1. Be Clear About the Objectives

            Any goal (let alone financial) without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream. And this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

            It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it is for. It could be anything like kid’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car etc.

            Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives, however small they may be, that you foresee in the future and put a value to it.

            2. Keep Them Realistic

            It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going out of the line will definitely hurt your chances of achieving them.

            It’s important that you keep your goals realistic in nature for it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

            3. Account for Inflation

            Ronald Reagan once said – “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman”. And this quote sums up the best what inflation could do your financial goals.

            Therefore account for inflation whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far away in the future.

            For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years hence, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is mere 3%. So always account for inflation.

            4. Short Term vs Long Term

            Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach towards achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It is important to bifurcate goals in short term and long term.

            As a rule of thumb, any financial goal, which is due in next 3 years should be termed as short term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short term vs long term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

            More on this later when we talk about how to achieve financial goals.

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            5. To Each to His Own

            The journey of setting financial goals is an individualistic affair i.e. your goals are your own goals and are determined by your want to achieve them. A lot of times we get on the bandwagon of goal setting only to realize later on that it was not meant for us.

            It is important that your goals are actually your goals and not inspired by someone else. Take a hard look at this step at all the goals you’ve set for after this step, you will be on the way to achieve them.

            By now, you would be ready with your financial goals, now it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

            11 Ways to Achieve Your Financial Goals

            Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a 2 step process –

            • Ensuring healthy savings
            • Making smart investments

            You will need to save enough; and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals. So let’s get down to ensuring healthy savings.

            Ensuring Healthy Savings

            Self realization is the best form of realisation and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

            This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

            1. Track Expenses

            The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your monthly expenses. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you would be surprised to see how small expenses add up to a sizeable amount.

            Also categorize those expenses into different bucket so that you know which bucket is eating the most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pump up your savings rate.

            2. Pay Yourself First

            Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classical mistake which almost everyone of us do. We pay ourselves last!

            Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and then manage all the expenses from the rest.

            The best way to actually implement is to put the savings on automatic mode i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (for example – mutual funds, retirement corpus etc) every month.

            Taking the automatic route will make us lose control of our money and hence will compel us to manage in what’s left with us thereby increasing the savings rate.

            3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick with It

            Budgeting is the best to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be made.

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            Nowadays, several money management apps and wallets can help you do this automatically. It’s easy and who knows, you may just end up doing what people fail to do.

            At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

            Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

            You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

            4. Rise Again Even If You Fall

            Let’s be realistic. It’s not like the world will come to an end if you made one mistake. This isn’t called leniency but discipline.

            If you fail to meet your budget for a month, don’t give up the entire effort just like that. Instead, start again.

            Remember that flexible plans are the most realistic plans. So go forward and try to follow your financial goals as planned but if for some reason, the plan gets out of hand for you, do not give up on it just yet. This has a lot to do with your psychology rather than any material commitment.

            All you have to do is to stay on the road and vow to stay on it, no matter how much you fall down.

            5. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

            In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

            Make Savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counter intuitive to many but there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

            Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Usually weekends are expensive. Make it a habit and you would in turn be saving a great deal.

            If you are travelling buff, try to travel during off season. Your outlay will be much less.

            If you go out for shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

            So the key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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            6. Talk About It

            Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission. And it would be rather easy to lose the grip over your discipline.

            Therefore in order to stay the course, it is advisable that you keep yourself surrounded with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

            7. Maintain a Journal

            For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

            So if you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

            Use this journal to write down all essential points such as your short term, mid term and long term goals, your current sources of income, your regular expenses which you are aware of and any committed expenses which are of recurring nature.

            When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energised to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot more easier for you to follow you and track your progress.

            At this point, you should be ready with your financial goals and would be doing brilliantly with savings; now it’s time to talk about the big daddy – Investments.

            Making Smart Investments

            Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However savings when invested wisely can do wonders and we are at that stage where we will talk about making smart investments.

            8. Consult a Financial Advisor

            Investments doesn’t come naturally to most of us therefore rather than dabbling with it ourselves, it is wise to consult a financial advisor.

            Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

            9. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

            Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about them.

            Just like “no one is born a criminal”, no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference.

            Do you remember we talked about bifurcating financial goals in short term and long term?

            It is here where that classification will help.

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            So as a general rule, for all your short term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less as compared to equity instruments.

            10. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

            Einstein once remarked about compounding,

            Compound Interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.

            So make friends with this wonder kid. And sooner you become friends with it, quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

            Start investing early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

            11. Measure, Measure, Measure

            All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments; taking stock of how our investments are doing.

            If there is one single step where everything (so far) can go wrong, it is at this step – Measuring the Progress.

            If we don’t measure the progress timely, then we would be shooting in the dark. We wouldn’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not; whether financial advisor is doing a decent job; whether we are moving closer to our target or not.

            Do measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

            The Bottom Line

            This completes the list of tips for you to set financial goals and actually achieve them with not so great difficulty.

            As you can see, all it requires is discipline. But guess that’s the most difficult part!

            More About Personal Finance Management

            Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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