I haven’t fully defined what success is for me from an FIRE perspective just yet, but if one thing’s for sure it’s that I’ll be spending more time in sunny places! We’ve had the pleasure of spending our holidays this year between two beautiful Croatian Islands, Sipan and Mljet, doing nothing but chilling out. Well that’s only partly true, I’ve also been leveraging the free time to catch up on reading, and to start listening to The Mad FIentist’s fantastic podcasts (I’ll never hand over my hard earned for a holiday again after listening to this one).
A couple of weeks before we took off, I was tipping through The Escape Artists archive, where I stumbled across his list of life changing book recommendations. I pottered down to the local charity book shop to see if I could find anything from his list. Luckily enough, I managed to pick up Steven Covey’s ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ for £3. It’s these little wins that put a smile on my face now days 🙂
It’s intense enough for a holiday read so I haven’t rattled through it as quickly as I’d like. I don’t think it’s meant to be rattled through in fairness, more of a book to read in small chunks and reflect on for a while. The chapter on habit 2, ‘begin with the end in mind’, challenges you to identify what is central to you (eg: self-centered, spouse centered, money centered), or as the author describes it ‘the lens through which you see the world’.
He suggests a preference towards being principle centered, stating ‘by centering our lives on correct principles, we create a solid foundation for development of the four life support factors’. He challenges the reader to define a set of principles to which your actions should be aligned by creating a personal mission statement. This was significant for me because I’m flaky at the best of times, so having my own personal constitution to refer to will keep me honest and accountable. I’ve gone off piste a little, and created this in the form of bullet points. I like bullet points!
To give an example, one is to ‘evaluate innate emotional responses and subconscious opinions’. We’ve all got them, I’ve got loads. Some are essential to safety and survival, like fear when you see an axe wielding lunatic running in your direction, which causes you to take some form of evasive or defensive action!
But many others wouldn’t stand up to even elementary scrutiny. For example, my innate emotional response to getting on the tube is fear of being caught up in a terrorist attack, but I don’t give a second thought to cycling to work every day. To put it in context, 67 cyclists* were killed between 2010 and 2014 in London, but only 1 death** has been attributed to terrorism in London from 2010 to the present day.
How many people do you know who fear flying but have no problem getting in a car? The stats prove that air travel is a very safe form of transport, whereas road travel is extremely dangerous in comparison. ‘The University of Oxford calculates that in 2006, Brits had odds of one in 36,512 of dying in a motor accident and one in 3.5m dying in a plane crash.’***
In terms of subconscious opinions, it’s often been the case that a bad first impression has lead me to subconsciously form a negative opinion of an individual, which in many cases proves to be out of sync with my opinion of the same individual after getting to know them better. This happens regularly in work!
I’ve ‘seek financial independence’ in there too to help keep me on the straight and narrow, and an important one for me too is in relation to being ‘frugal not cheap’. This is a little reminder for me to seek out value with all my outgoings, like the exercise I took to cut all my regular outgoings when I started out, but not to be the bloke who leaves the bar before getting his round in! Additionally, one to keep me in check when I do make purchases is to remember that ‘the happiness you get from buying stuff is temporary’. I’m still in a transitional period and at times find myself slipping back into bad habits with purchases, so this is designed to keep me from falling off the wagon from that perspective.
It’s a living document which I fully expect to update over time, but here’s Version 1.
TFP Personal Mission Statement
- Evaluate innate emotional responses and subconscious opinions.
- Be patient with people whose skills differ from yours, because they know a whole bunch of useful stuff that you don’t.
- Hug as often as possible (where appropriate!).
- Treat your body like your most valuable asset. And stretch, it’ll prevent all sorts of pain.
- Respect mother nature.
- Seek financial independence.
- Be frugal, but not cheap.
- The happiness you get from buying stuff is temporary.
- Embrace each new stage of life, you can’t get back what’s passed.
- Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, but be sure to learn from them.
- Action over inaction.
- Plan tomorrow’s work today.
- Don’t speak negatively of people who aren’t there to defend themselves.
- Don’t sacrifice integrity for ambition.
- Facilitate the success of others.
- Seek counsel from those you respect, not those who will agree with you.
- Listen more, speak less.
- Before passing judgement, see situations from all perspectives.
- Strive to improve, but don’t fix what’s not broken.
- Be consistent.
- Keep calm in pressurised situations, panicking won’t help.
- Be cognisant of those you’d turn to for help in a crisis, and treat them accordingly.
- Make eye contact.
- Say hello to strangers.
- Treat hate with love.
- Perception is not reality, don’t be fooled.
- DO NOT keep up with the Kardashians.
- Dance every morning soon after rising from the bed.
- Greet colleagues in the morning.