December is the ultimate month of preparations. In a normal year, we spend time and effort getting ready for the holidays and the new year. We make cookies, throw holiday parties, send cards, and attend gatherings with friends and family. For those who celebrate Christmas, nearly the entire month of December is spent in a dizzying display of preparations. In fact, the season of Advent is considered to be the season of “preparation” or “expectant waiting.”
We also use December as a month to wind down the current year and get ready for the coming year. Most of us don’t wake up on New Year’s Day and spontaneously have a resolution the moment we open our eyes. Rather, we use the month of December to start to think about what our New Year’s resolution might be. (And, of course, we buy whatever health food items, exercise equipment, journal, or other items we might need to be “successful” in the new year.)
At Women’s Money, we are focused on helping you take back your future and fund your freedom. As we begin this journey, our December articles will be entirely devoted to getting ready, planning, and preparing as the core components of your toolkit for taking back your future.
Prepare. Work. Recover.
Being an athlete has helped me create my own key philosophies about how to maximize productivity and achieve goals.
To be your best self in any aspect of life (including your finances), you need to follow this simple process:
What does this mean?
Let’s start with the “work” since that is what everyone thinks of when talking about productivity or improving finances.
When I mention “work,” I don’t mean your day job. “Work” stands for whatever it is you want to do or any particular goal. Maybe it’s a large goal, for example having $1,000,000 or running a marathon. Or maybe it’s a smaller goal, such as taking a two-week vacation, setting a personal record with your workout, doing a special activity with your kids, or cooking dinner with your spouse once a week.
Work is what you think of when you answer the following questions: in what activity do you want to be truly engaged in your life? What is your goal?
The answer to this is the “work.”
So how do you get to your most productive, efficient, and enjoyable work? With preparation.
To get to your best work, you need to plan. You need to prepare. You need to take various steps to get ready.
Preparation is getting to the right spot, mentally and physically, to be able to do the work.
For example, working out requires you know what exercises you will do. You also have to get your clothes together, your shoes, your workout equipment, and your music. You need to plan for the time it will take to do the workout.
Each of these workouts might be preparation for a larger “work,” like your goal of running a marathon.
For finances, the preparation is about spending time understanding where you are at now. It’s about determining where you want to be in the future and creating a financial plan to get there. It’s about learning the basic concepts of saving and investing. Another way to think of preparation is to think: investing in the future.
The final key component for productivity and success in reaching any goal is the recovery. Your body, mind, and spirit all need time off. Personally, I didn’t appreciate the importance of recovery until very recently. We can quickly burnout or breakdown if we don’t take the time for proper recovery. Recovery is simply resting. It’s taking a break from the work you were doing, including the preparations from that work. It means letting go.
For December, our theme at Women’s Money is “Make Ready December.” We are going to spend the month making ourselves ready for the year ahead and the financial goals we want to achieve.