Success in any endeavor is more the product of effective systems than sublime talent. To borrow a time worn phrase, effort and perspiration beat talent and inspiration.
We all know a lot of things we can do that will make our work and family lives better. We just have to remember to do them.
Online access to virtually all the information in the world seems to have brought some ten-dollar words into broader usage. I have been guilty of using many big words but in recent years, with the help of a dear friend, I have developed a greater appreciation for simplicity.
For example, I have read the word heuristic more in the past two years than in the two decades preceding them. The word algorithm has been making its way into some odd places as well. In fact, I came across these words so often I had to look them up.
According to Webster’s, a heuristic is a technique used to come up with solutions, usually involving trial and error. Interestingly, algorithm, is a step-by-step procedure for solving problems. So, both words relate to ways of figuring stuff out. Old wine in new bottles.
What follows will be three time tested problem-solving techniques I have adopted in recent years, which have helped me tremendously. I hope they will help you too.
Make a List
I know, I know, your parents and teachers told you that since you were a kid. So did mine. The magic is not in the knowing, however, it is in the doing. I never followed their sage advice and made lists until a few years ago. They are life changing. Here is how I do it:
- Write down everything I must do today in whatever order those things come into my mind. There are almost always at least five or six items.
- Circle the two that must be done soonest based on deadlines.
- Start with the easiest/least time-consuming task. (You will get it done and then have genuine momentum.)
- Cross what you have accomplished off the list.
- Move to the next task. (After you have completed that one you will officially be rolling.)
Ask for Help
This one remains difficult for me. Though the more I use it, the easier it has become. The truth is that we cannot do everything ourselves. Especially not if we want it done well and on time.
I cannot speak for you folks but a part of me once felt that asking for help revealed some personal flaw. Also, I did not want to put people out and feel like I was burdening them. It was all in my head.
I have found, again and again, that my coworkers, friends and family are not only willing to help, but they are usually enthusiastic about doing so. In return, I look forward to helping them whenever they ask. It creates a wonderful feedback loop.
Until recently, most people assumed that because human beings developed enormous brains, those brains allowed us to cooperate with others. Recent developments in cognitive science, however, suggest that social interaction was the primary reason we developed large brains to begin with. You might say we were designed by nature to cooperate with one another.
Ask for help. It will make your life better today. And when you return the favor, it will feel good because it will make someone else’s life better.
Do Something (no matter how little)
“It's better to do less than you hoped than nothing at all. No zero days.”
James Clear is the New York Times best-selling author of “Atomic Habits” and this is one of his most important rules for success in any enterprise. Completing 1% of a task seems like nothing. Yet 1% a day for just three months results in a virtually completed task. That is amazing considering the time will go by anyway and 1% of most tasks is not terribly time consuming.
We can see logically that doing almost nothing is still more than nothing. More than that however, the “do something, no matter how little” lifehack almost always leads to doing more than almost nothing.
If you would like to walk for forty minutes each day and you just do not feel like it today, walk for five minutes. Walk for two minutes and thirty seconds away from your front door, turn around and walk home.
Sounds absurd, right? It is not. First you will have confirmed - to yourself - that you are a person who does not miss your walks. Second, once you are outside, you might end up doing ten, fifteen or forty minutes. But that result is only possible if we first do something, no matter how little.
None of these problem-solving approaches, lifehacks or heuristics are likely new to you. They were not new to me. What was new to me, and what made a difference, was using them. There is nothing wrong with old wine in new bottles, provided the old wine is still good. Oh, and provided that we are willing to drink it.
We all know there are things we want to and should be doing in our lives. This is particularly true when it comes to our financial lives. Perhaps, it is having a will drafted, doing business planning with our partner(s), preparing legitimate tax avoidance strategies or simply instituting a program to save more money and build more wealth.
Here is an idea that, if you have come this far, should sound familiar. Make a list, ask for help, and do something, no matter how little. You will get things done and your life will be better for it.
Consider asking a qualified financial planner who has earned your trust to help you with your financial plans. None of us are islands unto ourselves.
Scott R. McGimpsey June 30th , 2021
This material was prepared by Scott McGimpsey and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Neither Cetera Advisor Networks LLC nor Scott McGimpsey is engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professionally services. If such assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any federal, state, or municipal tax penalty. Moreover, a diversified portfolio does not assure a profit or assure protection against loss in a declining market.