Today’s episode is about looking back on the last year and asking, “What are you proud of?” I was recently at a conference where they asked everyone to share their wins, but it seemed difficult, and people were pressured. Attendees were all sharing money wins, and it felt really flat. Starting events like that on a positive note is always good, but other questions can be asked. What was your biggest lesson? What has been your biggest failure (because we learn through failures)? And what are you most proud of?
Recent podcast episodes have focused on some changes I’ve made behind the scenes. I wanted to share content about what led to these changes and to help listeners understand the bias and perspective I’m operating with. I wanted to share the lessons I’ve really learned this year.
It’s been an overwhelming year, which was escalated a bit by my ADHD. I have teenagers and older parents who need a bit more support, everyone is saying the economy is fine, running two businesses in our household, supporting my husband, and trying to make room for hobbies and interests. I’m sharing these lessons in case you can learn something from them.
#1: Track Personal Spending
I have always tracked my business spending, but I started tracking personal spending and stuck with it the entire year. I used Rocket Money and had a great experience. I’ve tried many different apps, and this was my favorite. I learned quite a few things by tracking my finances.
So much money was “vanishing” because of subscriptions. Some that I signed up for I never use and forgot about, or annual subscriptions I forget about until they hit the budget. While each amount might be small, it adds up, especially when you are spending money on things you aren’t even using or have completely forgotten about. Some larger companies will refund you if you contact them, but not all of them will. It’s important to be diligent.
Another important reason to track your personal spending is to watch for fraud. People are trying to get into accounts and steal your identity. You must be careful and aware of what’s happening with your accounts and monitor them for fraudulent activity.
Fees are important to keep an eye on. Companies are adding all kinds of ridiculous fees, and you might want to reconsider who you are purchasing items from. You might even be charged for something that you shouldn’t have been charged for, and if you aren’t watching, you won’t know to contact someone to get that money back.
In just one month, I recovered almost $1,000 by questioning things, canceling subscriptions, and following through on refund requests and fees. I’ll definitely continue tracking my personal spending going forward.
#2: I Have Enough Money to Have What I Want
So many times, people think that once they reach a certain point, they can buy this or do it. But when you really look into your spending and income, it’s common to find out that you already have enough money right now.
Once I allocated my cash flow accordingly in my personal life and business, I saw that I had enough money to have what I wanted. By figuring this out, I could take this year to make the changes I made in my business because I had the information in front of me to see that I could. It’s important to stop with the cognitive bias and the idea that it’s not enough. Instead, make sure that it is enough.
#3: Painfully Hard Decisions Are Exponentially Profitable
I closed The Bold Profit Academy this year, which was a challenging decision. There are several podcast episodes about this decision and the process, but to sum it up, it helped me learn that painfully hard decisions and subsequent difficult conversations are exponentially profitable.
#4: Productivity and Efficiency Shouldn’t Have a Bad Reputation
It seems like productivity and efficiency have been lumped into an anti-capitalist narrative. We’ve associated them with the man who is trying to squeeze us for every last ounce of work. If you are a business owner, you can’t really be anti-capitalist, but you should be a conscious capitalist.
Reasonable and mindful productivity is the key to working less and keeping more of your money. Whether you’re maximizing technology or have found some brilliant resources to help you work smarter, it’s positive.
Think of the 80/20 rule—20% of what you do leads to 80% of your results. You can then focus on that 20% and delete the other 80% that isn’t getting you anywhere. That’s efficiency. It’s not the concept of constantly doing more but actually doing less so you have more time for things and people you love.
#5: Say No to Anything Not On Your Short List
You should have a very short list of your hell-yes things and a handful of obligations. Then, say no to anything and everything that isn’t on that shortlist. If it isn’t a hell yes, it’s a hell no. We simply do not have unlimited time and energy. It’s important to be focused and discerning. Be picky about what you say yes to and protect your dollars, attention, time, and energy.
Saying no requires two things that are a struggle for many humans—honesty and acceptance. Accept that you have constraints and limitations. Be honest about what you have the capacity for. It is important to understand how many projects and relationships you can manage at once. It can be hard to accept that we need to limit things. Honesty and acceptance are two key ingredients to making behavior changes. If you can’t be honest and aware, you’ll be constantly fighting against yourself.
I’m a person who likes to say yes, and I get excited by opportunities. But I have also been overwhelmed and exhausted by all the opportunities that are in front of me. Focusing on my shortlist makes it easier for me to turn things down.
#6: Work on Gratitude
This is not a cliche. Gratitude is a muscle, and it can atrophy. In the last year, I’ve had physical, mental, and emotional health challenges, and I was expending energy in a way that didn’t feel like it was being reciprocated. All I could focus on were the negatives, resentments, frustrations, and downsides. I was uncoachable and constantly in fight-or-flight mode.
One morning, I had a bit of space and forced myself to sit down and write in my gratitude journal. It was an instant release. I wrote down five things I felt grateful for right then and felt like I could breathe again. Finding those five things at the moment can help you shift your perspective and help lighten things.
#7: Build Your Business Around the Life You Want to Have
This is a lesson that I’ve had to learn over and over again. My business started because I wanted to run to the grocery store in the middle of the week and schedule free time when I wanted. But I got hooked as I started hitting goals that I didn’t even think were possible. The more I did, the more physically unwell I became.
There are costs and trade-offs that nobody talks about when it comes to work and making time for yourself. There’s a point when good things cease to be good things; maybe that’s when we must reevaluate.
Final Thoughts on Lessons and Learnings
We are entering the quiet and introspective time of year. Think about your lessons. What are some of the constraints that you want to put around your goals and your lifestyle? If you want to share your lessons, I’d love to hear from you. If you learned anything from this, please forward it to others who can also take something good away.