Your personal growth philosophy

What is a personal growth philosophy? It’s a set of core principles that you turn into habit which guide your physical, mental, and financial growth. I won’t pretend to be able to help you make the leap to your own personal growth philosophy, but I can share what I’ve come to follow over the years in hopes it can get you started in the right direction.

Compound interest is the greatest force in the universe. What does this mean besides being an overused quote? Small steps add up! While some of the rules below may seem out of reach today, understand you can get there by starting small and sticking with it. No matter what your thoughts are on my own personal growth philosophy, I urge you to create a your own so that, whether you dive in head-first or you start small and work up to step by step, you will ultimately lead yourself to success.

  • Get to a healthy weight and body composition (muscle vs fat) for your height and then eat to maintain. You don’t have to look like Scooby, but your body is the only one you have in this life and investing in your physical health has well-researched and proven positive effects on your happiness, personal and business relationships, life span, and more.
  • As long as you are physically able to do so, lift weights or run 3-or-more times per week for at least 30 minutes. Again, check out Scooby above if you’ve never been “into that stuff”. If I were 20 again I’d lift 7 days a week as an over-investment in this area – the benefits are that powerful.
  • As long as you are physically able to do so, sit up straight, shoulders back. See any older folks at work or in your family who are permanently hunched over? You’ll thank me later. Search for “how to sit up straight” or “proper posture” online for images, videos, etc.
  • Provided you can do so without foregoing the basic needs of food, water, clothing, and shelter:
    • Chop 10% of all income right off the top and put it into a 401k with low fees. Plan to leave it alone until retirement (whether that’s 30, 40, 50, 65, whatever, just leave it alone). Remember to use the 10% rule – so as your income grows your investment grows.
    • Chop another 10% of all income right off the top and throw it into a diversified investment portfolio. Simple approaches available right now are available through companies like Wealthfront or Betterment – just set up auto-deposits and take advantage of their expertise and algorithms. And remember the 10% rule again. As this fund grows consider shifting some of the gains off to commercial “investment-grade” real estate: rental properties, a RV park, a parking lot, a strip mall, etc. and really putting the money to work in other ways.
    • Keep an “emergency fund” that will cover the basic needs for 6 months. Don’t touch it unless absolutely necessary (unemployment, illness, etc), and then replenish it as soon as you’re able. If and when the costs for basic needs grow, the emergency fund should grow to always be able to cover 6 months worth of time.
  • As a core principle, avoid debt. Get a great “rewards” credit card like Chase Amazon (if you use Amazon a lot) or one of the airline cards (if you fly a lot), but pay off the full balance each month. If you can’t, then unless you’re bootstrapping a startup you are overspending (and even then, you’re probably overspending).
  • Enjoy life and be social, but don’t drink your income. A case of wine for home is significantly cheaper than the same wine at a night out. In addition you can slowly build a wonderful collection of wines that are inexpensive today and will taste that much better in your 30s or 40s (and some will age longer), when drank with your future family and/or the good friends you make over the years ahead.
  • Read for 30 minutes a day or more – if you prefer to listen then consider Audible instead. Read books written by titans of industry and by prisoners of war. Learn from great philosophers across time. Specifically read either Seneca or Epictetus, or both: you don’t have to buy into Stoicism but their writings have been considered highly-applicable to the real world across centuries by some of the most accomplished humans through history and they are timeless works for good reason.
  • Simplify your food and clothing options. Figure out some standard healthful meals, ones that are inexpensive while still nutritious and that you can eat repeatedly throughout the week, and do so. Make a wardrobe and stick with it. Slacks with basic button-downs, jeans with t-shirts, the options largely depend on your personal and professional needs but whatever you do keep it basic. You’re doing this for three reasons:
    • Consistency in the cost of basic needs.
    • Frees up decision-making power, which you can now use on more important things. Greater decision-making capacity is an investment in your personal and professional future.
    • Reducing or eliminating these simple choices from your life means less stress. Less stress is an investment in both your mental and physical health.
  • Learn the art of goal setting and execution and apply it everywhere. See “How Google sets goals: OKRs – GV Library”.

In summary:

  • Take care of your body through nutrition and exercise.
  • Sit up straight!
  • Dedicate a portion of your income to each of a 401k, a diversified investment portfolio that can grow into larger investments in the future, and an emergency fund.
  • Avoid debt but don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s universally bad.
  • Don’t drink your income.
  • Read great non-fiction written across history.
  • Eliminate needless choice in the simple things.
  • Learn how to make goals and execute on your plans.

 

Originally taken from my answer at Quora.com to the question: What are the best investments you’ve made?

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