“Anything that is measured and watched, improves.“ — Bob Parsons
Over the last several years, I have embarked on two journeys that share a lot in common: dieting and wealth building. Both of these exercises require many of the same elements in order to be successful:
1. Planning - In most cases and for most people, you do not lose weight or grow wealth accidentally. Both require some kind of budget, one for calories and one for dollars. Good planning should include interim rewards, such as a new smoker and a pork butt to cook on it. (Might as well combine my vices!)
2. Organization - Both endeavors need some way to track progress. I use a spreadsheet for my diet and Quicken for my wealth.
3. Self Discipline - Ultimately, both of these projects require a large degree of self denial. You can’t eat everything you see. You can’t buy everything you want. You must stay the course even when the winds are blowing against you.
4. Inspiration - I’ve lost weight in the past, only to gain it all back and then some. However it was only after reading John Walker’s The Hacker’s Diet that I learned how to manage my weight once I reached my goal.
In wealth creation and growth, I am continually inspired by the lessons in some of my favorite books: David Bach’s The Automatic Millionaire, George S. Clason’s The Richest Man in Babylon, and a new favorite, Burton G. Malkiel’s A Random Walk Down Wall Street. I’m also inspired by a large number of insightful personal finance bloggers, many of whom are featured on my blogroll to the right.
5. Setbacks - I recognize the fact that I am only human and that I’m going to have moments of weakness, down markets, and other internal and external influences that are going to slow or reverse my progress. However, with a good plan (see Point 1 above) these short term reversals can be overcome quickly.
6. Support - My wife has been my best partner in both of these undertakings. Her reports to me of how many calories were in meals she had prepared were essential to my calorie balances during my 1 pound per week loss phase. Her like mindedness and buy-in for our financial goals has been integral to the success of our net worth increase. Comments from people who haven’t seen me in a while are also a great motivator: “You’re smaller than you used to be,” said one particularly keen-eyed observer.
7. Investment in the Future - My pre-loss weight was not what would be considered morbid, but clearly was detrimental to my long term health. My pre-accumulation wealth (yes, it does tip the -40% level) clearly was detrimental to my long term well-being, both mentally and ultimately physically (eating dog food in retirement takes a toll…). I was never fat, and I was never poor, but by taking charge of both of these aspects of my life I have put myself on a long road to well-being, which with luck will allow me to enjoy many years with my wife and daughter and future children and grandchildren — not to mention parents, brothers, in-laws, nieces, nephews, etc. — all the things in my life that really matter.