About this time of the year, I start to pause, reflect, and ponder.
2016 has been a fully loaded year. A lot of life events and good memories made through the year!
(My little one and I going for a walk)
Sarah receiving the TWIN (Tribute to Women In Industry) Award, celebrating mother’s day with mom (my mom visited us from India), my older kiddo turning 10, walking across Rainbow Bridge, a work related move from New Jersey to Texas, Sarah and I celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary (we made it very unique and special, and it deserves a post), the younger one turning 5, Stretch A Dime turning One, and lastly….
…two digits in my life’s odometer changed.
If you are wondering, what that mans, I turned 40.
Besides drilling a hole in my pocket, Sarah has made each one of these life events memorable and special and here is the latest one…
Indoor Skydiving Experience
Sarah had been asking me what I wanted for my birthday – I said, “I don’t want any gifts. Let us go do something fun! Can you surprise me?”
Then off I went on my business trip only to return a day before my birthday.
On my birthday morning, I enjoyed time with the family, and our kiddos left for school.
Then Sarah and I hit the road and I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
Thirty minutes later we were at iFLY Indoor Skydiving, a place where you can have an indoor skydiving experience without having to jump off a plane.
Sarah and I had a wonderful time enjoying the skydiving experience.
If pictures are a thousand words, what about a video? Amuse yourself!
(I am in the blue suit)
In the evening, we went out to a nice restaurant as a family, and had a great time.
Now, onto my reflections on 2016…
I don’t know if something toggled in my brain or if it is the “40” shifting the way my brain operates, I really started focusing on two questions:
#1 What are my values?
#2 Are my priorities aligned with my values?
Upon introspection, these two questions hit me like rock.
I needed to PAUSE and WRITE down my values and see if my priorities (how I spend my time) on a daily basis aligned with my values or was I cheating myself?
So, here we go. I give you each of my values and how my priorities have aligned or not aligned with them this year.
#1 Relationship with G-d
My relationship with Jesus is good. I desire to spend more time on my knees praying and reading the Bible.
There is definitely room for improvement.
My priority needs to align better with my value here.
#2 Relationship with Sarah (my marriage)
Sarah has been in a two year graduate level program at Harvard University, which she will be wrapping up this December.
With both of us working and with two kiddos, I have been doing everything I can in terms of taking care of the kiddos, and being very supportive of her career and academic ambitions.
When December comes, I ‘m gonna say “Thank G-d, it’s over! I meant the graduate program.
I feel I may have hit a home run here!
#3 Being a good father
I love my kids, honestly which good parent doesn’t? I play, fool around, and have fun with my kiddos.
Education is mom’s department. I have no idea what goes on at school.
I am Mr. Clueless.
I used to take my daughter to piano class once a week – and that was it.
This year, I kicked it up a notch in prioritizing my kiddos – I realized that the best thing I can do for them is investing my time and energy in their lives.
I have been proactive in signing them for and taking them to swimming, gymnastics, piano, and chess classes, besides being my usual self with them.
My priority is aligned with my value here. Finally, it dawned on me!
#4 Relationship with my Mom
I have a very good relationship with mom and so does Sarah.
The place where I see myself lacking is that I don’t call her as often as I should.
I get caught up in the business of life and that is no good excuse.
My priority needs to align better with my value here.
If you are wondering about my dad, he passed away in 2011. We had a good relationship and I miss all the conversations I used to have, though we disagreed on a lot things.
#5 Relationship with Family and Friends
Somebody spun the globe while shaking salt out of a salt shaker onto the globe – meaning my family is scattered.
We are spread out across continents and everyone is busy with their lives and it is hard to stay connected other than for birthdays, anniversaries, and New Years.
So the value / priority situation is a paradox at this point.
When it comes to friends, we have awesome friends both in NJ and in Texas.
I would say we get a passing grade here.
I have been developing friendships in the Personal Finance blogging community – that is turning out be awesome as well!
#6 Career / Work / Work Ethics
I am happy where I am in my career, aka my day job as a R&D Manager.
I believe in diligence and I am pretty old school – I like to under promise and over deliver.
Passing grade here again.
#7 Financial Accountability
Starting Stretch A Dime was one of the best things I did when it comes to personal finance.
It has helped me learn a lot with regards to personal finance. In fact, I have learned so much within the past twelve months compared to the past 4-5 years.
Blogging on personal finance has helped me be accountable to myself and to all you readers – so THANK YOU!
I created a prioritized personal finance checklist – that lists items by priority which everyone should be reviewing to see where they have gaps and address those gaps appropriately.
Estate Planning (Power of Attorney, Will and Living Trust) is the one area I need to address. Otherwise, all my ducks are in a row – no debt besides home mortgage, retirement savings, college education savings etc. are on track.
I give myself a passing grade here.
# 8 Charity
I believe in works of charity and it is a strong value for both Sarah and I. We give to our church and to charitable organizations on a consistent basis. Every year, we aspire to do better than the previous year.
Once gain, passing grade.
I am going to quote Freedom Is Groovy – “If you ain’t learning, you ain’t living.” I couldn’t agree more with that statement. This past year, I have been learning to blog and that has kept me really busy. I try to learn something new every single day.
This year I completed the Financial Markets course offered by Yale University via Coursera. It was absolutely worth it.
I went for my annual physical exam this summer. My cholesterol levels are through the roof!
Thankfully, everything else is fine!
This is mainly due to bad diet and sedentary work / life routine.
I often say “Nothing healthy tastes good”, which is true by the way for the most part.
This has directly impacted my eating habits, which ends up impacting my cholesterol levels, especially given that I have a sedentary lifestyle.
My priority certainly did not align with my value of maintaining good health.
As I pondered, I noticed that this is the one area that happens to be the worst offender!
I ‘m slowly making lifestyle changes – started walking daily for 30 minutes, 7 days a week, slowly making minor dietary modifications, and started drinking enough water through the day to keep myself hydrated.
My goal is to bring my cholesterol level down to within limits before the middle of next year.
I don’t remember my levels, otherwise I would have shared them. I will keep you posted as I make progress on this front.
As I wrote this post, I found that I place a lot of importance on RELATIONSHIPS, which is a good thing. Most of my priorities are aligned with my values.
There are some areas that are “meh”, where I certainly could do better. I am going to set goals to do better.
The main area where I now have a gap is with regards to health which I have identified to address as top priority.
What are your values? Are your priorities (how you spend your time) aligning with your values? Have you written your values down clearly? How are you ensuring that your priorities are aligned with your values? How has 2016 been for you thus far?