My financial adviser is a smart guy. He believes that we need to set up rules for my investments and stick to them. The main rule is what percent of my assets is in the stock market and what percent is not. This keeps me from getting greedy (and soon-to-be-slaughtered) when the market is up and from getting scared (and running) when it is down.
The main thing about this strategy is that it is a strategy. We don’t just behave in a willy-nilly fashion, we have a plan. This concept carries over to other areas of my life as evidenced by the journal I have kept since January 1, 2005. I make two entries in it each year, both on New Year’s Day. The first entry details how I spent New Year’s Eve so I can look back and remember happy times that would otherwise be forgotten. The second entry records my resolutions for the new year.
In the early years, I wrote down five or six mundane goals such as “Cut the cussing” and “Take calcium daily,” but of course, before long I was forgetting to take the damn calcium. By 2013, one of my resolutions got me closer to a workable plan, closer to a non-willy-nilly strategy. That resolution said, “Do my routine – see card.” Then on an index card I wrote down my daily routine, or at least the routine I followed on my good days.
Here it is in its entirety:
- Walk M-F
- Do 20 minutes of weight training M, W, and F
- Do 10 minutes of yoga T and Th
- Dental care – us electric toothbrush and floss at night and regular toothbrush and mouthwash in the morning.
- Nights (M-F) – Use lotion on face, feet, legs, and hands
- Be dressed – with makeup on – within two hours of walking M-F
- Go somewhere daily by noon
- Go to Temple on Friday nights
In the years since 2013 I have had a singular resolution – yes, just one. My resolution is to follow my routine. I reinforce this mission by writing, “Make a schedule and stick to it. Without this structure, you are like an un-medicated bipolar patient. For happiness, you need to take this ‘drug’ daily.”
Some may argue that my routine is a whole set of resolutions, difficult to carry out. But I disagree. I was doing all of these things regularly when life was good for me emotionally, but I failed to do them on down days. So, this gave me a strategy for the up markets and down markets of my life.
I learned the beauty of living this way from my ancestors. My dad – post-retirement – used to have a different activity scheduled daily. If it was Monday, he mentored at an elementary school; if it was Tuesday, he volunteered at Temple, and so forth. My grandmother used to cook a different soup daily. If it was Monday it was pea soup; if it was Tuesday it was bean soup, and so forth. When my dad lost my mom, and when my grandmother lost my grandfather, they were not completely adrift. They at least had a plan for what to do the next day…and the days thereafter. It worked for them. It works for me. I recommend it to you!