Consequences create motivation.
At the end of my 45-day bicycle trip in September I settled into some new habits that I knew needed to happen, but I never had the motivation for them.
For example — my finances have been a mess since I left the Navy in 2010. I’ve always known that doing a budget and tracking my income and expenses would be a good idea, but I never wanted to do it.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about myself, it’s that if I don’t want to do something, it ain’t gonna happen.
That’s where consequences come in. After going years without tracking expenses, I really felt how much my financial instability was hurting me — and I wanted to change. It sounds so simple, but I think what often happens is we escape the consequences, or explain them away (I know I do). That’s a shame because when we face the consequences they often turn into the motivation we need to change the behavior that’s causing our stress.
So now I have a budget, I track my income and expenses, and the best part is that it’s effortless. I actually get joy from doing it. This may tangent into another article sometime, but I’ll say for now that I don’t believe in using discipline to run your life. For me, discipline is a finite resource and I’ll eventually end up quitting.
What I try do instead is address the root of the problem. I work to change the system. Here’s a quick example of how I apply this.
In 2011 I wanted to become a better electric guitar player. I had been playing acoustic guitar for many years, but I rarely played electric with a band and there are a lot of nuanced skills there that I wanted to develop.
The problem was — I hate practicing. I knew that even if I got myself to practice for a few weeks, I would eventually stop. What I do love however — is performing.
I booked a weekly gig at a local dive bar, and brought the band. The bar could only pay $100 so I used that to pay the other musicians. Each week I worked on my guitar playing, and each week I got better. I took longer solos, did things outside my comfort zone and made growth my intention every week. We played that gig every week for two years and pretty soon I was noticing serious improvement in my electric guitar playing.
Anyway, that’s a short aside about discipline. Let’s move on to 2017.
In this article I’ll answer these questions.
- What went well?
- What could I improve?
- What are my aspirations and goals for next year?
- What did I learn in 2017?
What Went Well
- My love life. In short, I couldn’t be happier with my love life. After transitioning my relationship with Paula in August of 2016, I got to really spread my wings as a single guy in 2017. I was able to say yes to more opportunities and be more myself than I’ve ever been. I won’t go into too much detail about what that was about, but it was mostly becoming better at non-monogamy, finding my “tribe” of slutty people, and stepping into more of a role as a community leader in the polyamory community in San Diego.
- My website traffic doubled. This was mostly due to a few popular articles, as well as some SEO help from google in the last couple months. Apparently my article on straight men taking it up the ass is getting a lot of hits from google searches. You can probably guess what the keywords are but in case you’re wondering, here is a screen shot of the most common searches in the last 3 months.
- I rode my bicycle from Vancouver, Canada to San Diego, California. I spent 45 days on the road and it was beautiful. One of the ways I measure my quality of life is my ability to take trips like that, so I’m proud of the fact that I carved out the time to do it.
- Paula and I are good friends. We definitely needed some time apart, but as of the last few months especially, we’ve been enjoying a really nice friendship. I’ll always love her and now getting to express that love through a friendship means a lot to me.
- I’m in love with minimalism. The past 18 months have been a non-stop love affair with minimalism, and it gets better every day. I’ll be doing an “everything I own” post (with pictures) very shortly and I’m excited to share how I’ve been living the last year.
- I’m making progress toward intentional community. On January 2nd I’m moving into The Emerald Village, which is an intentional community outside San Diego. My goal is to be an apprentice, to learn what it takes to run a community and to experience it first hand. If you haven’t read Lonely is the New Normal — I spell out the reasons I’m not a fan of the nuclear family. It’s one of my favorite articles.
- My overall health improved in 2017. It’s funny writing this at the end of a 10-day trip to New Orleans, but overall I’m in better shape, I lost approximately 10-15 pounds and my back pain is the least it’s been in a long time.
What I Could Improve
- I need a better plan to create more location independent income. Currently I’m mostly making money playing music, which I love, but it doesn’t offer me the flexibility to travel that I want. Still working on monetizing this site, but I haven’t decided exactly how I want to do that yet.
- I need to create more time to things that aren’t urgent, but important. Lately almost all my time has been spent working on things that are urgent and important, and I have a handful of projects that need to get more attention. For example, I have a really exciting idea for a fiction novel, but until I can get my head above water with finances, it’s hard to focus on things that won’t make me money in the short term. (Side note: Boodaism doesn’t make me any money — actually costs $20-30/month — but for whatever reason, I still have the motivation to stick with it every week, and I’m glad about that.)
Aspirations and Goals for Next Year
- Getting my financial life in order. This is the only aspiration and goal I have for 2018 because I don’t want to lose focus by having too many goals. I’ve already made huge strides since returning from my bicycle trip, and ultimately where I want this to go is me making 3K/month in income that’s not location dependent, something I absolutely love and can do from my laptop, preferably without a strong internet connection.
What I Learned in 2017
I can’t emphasize enough the idea that consequences create motivation. I’m in a phase right now where I have a lot of enthusiasm to get my financial life in order, and it’s a direct result of me feeling the consequences of having that out of order for so long. I wrote about this enough in the intro, so I’m going to leave it at that.
Thank you for following this blog, and if you’ve read this far — thanks for your continued interest and support in 2018. I say this all the time but it’s true, your support and encouragement means the world to me.
Don’t hesitate to reach out and say hi, I’ll be doing another round of free coaching in a month or two for the email list, so if you’re not on it be sure to sign up below.
Big thank you to my friend Andy Drish for his Year End Planning Process. Andy is a great mentor in the world of business and I recommend you check out his blog.
Also thanks to James Clear and Chris Guillebeau for the annual review structure.