When I first began doing a dollar for dollar budget using YNAB I was already a frugal guy and totally debt free. At that point, I had never done an ‘assign-a-job-to-every-dollar’ budget. I paid off debt by picking a monthly number and throwing it at my debt. Whatever was left over was mine to do whatever with. I wasn’t very intentional. After getting a hold of some books and blogs on personal finance, my mind began to engage the idea of a budget and what it might do for my personal freedom. Before it felt like an unnecessary chore for someone who had mastered money. That seems silly now as I write it, but that’s how I felt. After all, how many people actually get out of debt and stay out?
New thoughts and perspectives on personal finance caused my gears to turn. Eventually I was convinced I needed to try budgeting. It proved to be one of the best decisions I ever made. It’s not like I suddenly made more money or found a bunch of ways to save money. What it did for me was give me priority and a plan for my money. Practically, this meant that I didn’t have to think as long or hard about my financial decisions, large or small. I knew my long and short term goals and I knew what things took priority. Whenever emergencies pop up, the budget gives me a very quick way to triage. I check my numbers, think about my bigger life goals, pivot and keep moving. It makes stress, less stressful, which makes life more enjoyable. As I experienced this more, my contemplation’s about changing financial behaviors became new beliefs about how money works.
High physical agility allows one to navigate the physical world with a high level of adaptability to obstacles. Shifts in beliefs (aka – paradigms, perspectives, stories etc.) can be agile in relation to new information. It’s not about changing what you believe every day or year or whatever, just for the sake of changing. It’s more about adopting a posture that says, “What I believe about life today is not totally accurate and I know this. Therefore, I move through life with a courageous curiosity, seeking to learn whenever possible and update my belief system appropriately.”
When I began reading more on personal finance I was trying to solve a problem, “How can I get my income to work for me and ultimately achieve the freedom in time and energy that I want?” As you’ve probably heard and read me talk about several times, between the years of 2012-2014 when I worked as a fitness trainer, I wasn’t making much money at all. However, I very much wanted to stay the course during that time frame in order to confirm/deny some beliefs I had about being a personal trainer. I realized that at a minimum, the less money I spent, the less money I needed to make. This meant I could spend that 2-3 years working in the gym and learning more about what I wanted in a career. The problem of financial freedom spurred the willingness to learn… which lead to an experimentation in behavior change (budgeting)… which led to experiencing less financial stress… which led to cementing what I learned (or changing my beliefs).
I would call myself a pretty physically agile guy (as this video shows). Part of the reason for this agility is the fact that I don’t wait for physical problems to pop up and challenge me (like injury or diagnosis with illness). I actively pursue problems. “How can I do a back flip?” “How can I do a single arm chin up?” “How can I get more vegetation in my diet?” I create the problem in my mind by asking the question. I then seek knowledge and begin to experiment. This is how a fat, nonathletic, timid kid from the south becomes a lean, agile, former US Army Green Beret and Combat Veteran.
Exposing ourselves to new ideas in any area of life gives agility to our belief system, allowing us to adapt well when reality calls for it. This really comes down to chasing paradigm shifts by placing goals (a vision) in front of ourselves. A good goal is going to give rise to a problem that must be solved. I think this is analogous to continuous innovation in a company or business. Create the vision and tackle the problems along the way.
The irony in this is the fact that a Belief System that knows that it has blind spots is going to be much more resilient than one that one that knows that it is right. Do we want our mentality to be right and brittle or wrong and flexible ?
More in Episode 38 of the Ambition-Innovation-Effort Podcast.