Mindset – How to get things done.

Mindset, how to get things done. Whatever that may be! Well I have done a lot of experiments with what works for me and what I should improve when I want to get stuff done. It consist of a few key ingredients. First and foremost is planning. Have a goal , break it down into steps and plan the time, resources and order and start stepping.

Well that’s easy. No it’s very hard. When I first started using weekly planning sheets it was out of sheer necessity because I would otherwise forget everything. It was in place for me to get by on a day to day bases.

Then after a lot of trial and error I got my day to day in order and got myself thinking what do I want challenge myself with. And make a plan. Then I started falling into some traps. First and foremost I planned way too much , too much tasks and too much goals.

Which brings me to ‘rule’ rather recommendation number 2. Plan too little. There will always be something that takes up more time or an unplanned event will destroy your carefully set to do list.

Have no more than 1 great goal at any time in 3 categories. Max, why ? Well otherwise it will get muddy and stuff starts drifting. You can only focus on so much. For example , set a work or learning related goal, one physical fitness and one personal life goal. Learn how to program , run a 10K race and plan a trip. Or whatever you want. There will be lots of other stuff needs doing besides those goals.

It’s also divided into 3 categories for a reason, one is demanding on the brain, one on the body. You can keep those two nicely balanced , your brain needs time to digest newly learned stuff and exercise helps a lot (as does sleep) , the third must be less of a braindrain and more in the way of relaxing.

You have only about 4 hours worth of intens brain work a day anyway. If you trained yourself right.

So keep to do lists small, and allow yourself much needed rest in between. Recovery is key. Only make new to to lists when old ones are fully done. Don’t put notes and reminders for future tasks on existing to do lists , it will distract.

Makes a nice bridge to the last tip for today, when doing work that needs a of your brain power , make sure you get rid of any distractions. Put away your phone, disconnect the internet, don’t open your mailbox. Make sure you fully focus on the task at hand. Make sure everyone knows you cannot be disturbed. Make sure you have a way of letting people know they cannot disturb you during those hours , only for emergencies. And let them know what an emergency looks like.

Make sure you don’t stretch yourself too much in those intensive brainpower consuming sessions. Set an alarm after an hour or two and take a real break. Jus eat something or enjoy a good coffee. Do not let your distractions in, no phone no email no internet. Just time for recovery. Limit the total amount of time to a max of 4 hours or so per day. Start with a half an hour and build from there. It’s hard focusing with such intensity.

I have made all the mistakes having way to many goals , too much on the to do list and every distraction possible at hand. It leads to frustration and anger because nothing gets done within the time frame you planned for it. Not even close. It’s not easy getting razorsharp focus. It needs a lot of training. The mindset isn’t just there the moment you decide it is. It needs training , consistency and rhythm to cement itself.

And for now , rule or recommendation 3, don’t be too hard on yourself. There will be days when everything goes easy , and there will be days, weeks even when nothing works. Just trust yourself and stick to it. You will get there and it will get easier to get your focus back. Make sure you evaluate your goals over time, is it still the right goal and does it need adjusting. Are the steps still the right ones. Have no fear of throwing goals in the bin if it’s not achievable for you. Just start a new one. I have trashed more than I finished. But made sure I learned from my mistakes. That’s why it’s important to evaluate.

And have fun, it’s not always fun, nor should it be. Some goals will be a necessity in order too get forward. But make sure you have fun along the way. And set fun goals, stuff that you know is fun from the beginning. And never give up on yourself and the process.

Zero

Back to zero, this lockdown for me is a forced rethink of what I need to do, or love to do. I have had a forced reset after my brain injury and after a few years I have a pretty solid base. And I got into a rhythm again. I sometimes forget to focus on the goals I have set after my return to the ‘real world’.

After adjusting to the lockdown and getting my head around it, I have spent some time going tru my notes and thoughts just after my revalidation. It was very much focussed around learning and getting some old ideas done. Mostly focussed around creativity and music. It’s has been hard getting started on those things for some reason. This part of my goals has been overshadowed by the day to day stuff I need to do. So I am now need to set some time for it.

This new crisis has also made me think we as a society need a reset, a bold start from scratch, back to zero.

It has also shown the fragility of our system and the need to rethink a large part of it. For me a lot needs to get back to zero. Start to rethink the whole idea of how we need to organize society and how we do things.

The focus on economic growth and keeping big business happy is long overdue. The metrics we use for calculating our output is one of the past. The cost of every crisis lands on the weakest shoulders. Most people haven’t really recovered from the financial crisis of 2008 and are now here. It might seem as if there was a recovery but most people just got back to a level of were they were in 2008.

The main problem is the inability for most people to get there financial situation more stable, workers rights have steadily been downgraded, the gig economy is not one that benefits most workers. And thus most people. Combining this with the every growing privatizing of healthcare , utilities and so on it’s a risk cocktail that has again landed on the same group of people.

The risk for society as a whole has gone up as well, the governments around the world have stepped in at an enormous cost for the future , all in a all in bet for quick recovery. Which might not happen.

So while this is all pretty gloomy it also gives us as a opportunity to force a few long overdue changes. The most important is the mindset about how we measure the wealth in our society. It needs to be a new mix of economic growth , health and happiness of the people and nature. A focus more on the quality of life and things rather than just things and masses of them.

It’s just a thought but these levels of leverage on financial , environmental and human risk our current system is very much unsustainable. Hopefully this new crisis will give way to forward thinking and real problem solving. I for one hope for the best.

November 2019 – Dividend

11 months in 2019 dividend wise, so another update is due. Not an extraordinary one but slow and steady is the name of the dividend growing game. November always is a month with just a few dividend paying company’s. At least in my portfolio it is. And this time it’s no different. Just a few but still a nice bump if you look at last year. Passive income is simply fun to watch. So here are the November numbers !

DateStockCurrencyAmount
15-11-2019ASMLEUR10,50
14-11-2019Apple EUR10,31
12-11-2019ASMIEUR30,00
TotalEUR50,81

Brain damage , experiences and everyday life

Brain damage , for most people something they can’t really get grips with. It’s hard too imagine one day waking up and being unable performing even the most basic of tasks without these simple things being incredibly difficult. And in most cases it’s ‘ invisible’ . Nearly 3 years in too my recovery I have learned a lot. Maybe I have written about some aspects in earlier posts but it helps putting my thought in order, so bare with me.

After my revalidation process where I learned how to handle the most mundane daily tasks, comprehending my place in the larger world began. Where the first steps were about not forgetting putting out the stove when going outside, taking your keys when going out, and more of the sorts. It was now about issues much bigger. What is my place in society , what can I still offer in terms of work, helping people and what are achievable goals for me?

These questions were much harder too awnser than expected. During the second year keeping the routines as learned during my recovery had the priority. Creating a stable day to day environment was one thing I underestimated greatly. Easy weeks give a false notion of being able to do more or a lot more the following week or weeks.

All too soon the I found this to be a mistake , your efforts need to be in balance , creating a tension between rest and activity good enough to keep you going. An excess week in efforts will cause weeks of instability.

After the second year and getting a rhythm going, it was time looking ahead. My internal optimist was still thinking in terms of careers , and being ‘normal’ again. The first difficulty came when looking for sorts of an internship where I could experiment with how far I could go and what I could still do within a working environment.

Everybody I had been speaking with was full of admiration with my commitment and tenacity but ultimately most didn’t see a possibility for me working with them. Doubts about risk and the practical issues with providing me with the right support were dealbreakers.

Fortunately you just need 1 person taking a leap of faith. Which in my case someone did. It is of the utmost importance to be joining society again, in any way, in this case being back in a work environment. I have the freedom setting my own limits , have a group of very friendly colleagues, there are coffee machines (you miss those when not around). And most importantly I have work at my own level and in my old profession.

These seem small things but very important in terms of your self esteem. It’s also useful with planning your weekly activities , parts of it are filled with work and I don’t need to fill in my own. You get out the door and there is a rhythm.

Getting back in my area of expertise was very important , where learning new things doesn’t come easy if it’s related too older knowledge which I had before my brain damage it’s much easier. I am a lot slower and I can manage far shorter hours of focussing and need a lot of rest. But by relying on some basics from the past it’s easier to maintain. It takes less energy than totally new stuff.

I have tried learning something new. Working with my hands for example. Fixing bikes, soldering and the like. Fun as a hobby maybe, but it took me ages and lot’s of energy getting the most basic routines under my belt. My motor skills were simply not good enough anymore. This way proved to be a dead end.

Returning in my old profession, albeit at a slower pace and less demanding, proved vital in my succes in the workplace. A lot of people try different professions after a serious accident and recovery, and for me this was a first reaction, let’s learn something ‘easier’ than I was used to. This turned out to be the wrong way. At least for me. Maybe there should be a bit more room for exploring the stuff people already know before doing new things. For one I am not less intelligent , just a lot slower. A full time job is hard but it doesn’t make you a complete ‘write-off’

So all in all getting back in my old ways is a good thing, and has resulted in a parttime job. I have left the idea of full time employment. It’s still in the back of my head though. And I will try and bent it a bit further in the future. For now it’s been a boost in self confidence and gives back a bit of independence. Very important indeed.

Society is equipped for people who can run at full speed within the society. Preferably a bit faster. As soon as you get to an abrupt hold , for whatever reason, it’s very hard getting back in. In theory there are guidelines, programs and projects aimed at letting people with a disability being part of society again.

All good intentions and efforts aside, theory and practice are far apart. I have been lucky, met the right people willing to help at the right time. Others are not as fortunate and have daily hindrance on top of their usual problems. It takes an extra toll on these people. Because I know they would love to find a place to make a positive impact on society.

October 2019 – Dividend

October again, and it’s time for my monthly dividend statement. Yet again a steady growth. It’s considering the current interest rate climate all too easy to praise dividends.

But there is a but, the risk is significantly higher. So always invest for the long term, at least with a 20 year horizon. And with money you absolutely don’t need for the foreseeable future. Don’t chase the next hot thing. Make a plan, and stick to it consistently. And let time do its job.

Maybe these warnings albeit a repetition are still worth mentioning. A lot of people talk very casually about investing as if they are as secure as an ‘old fashioned’ savings account. Well they are not. Be sure too understand the basics of finance, money and time before doing anything. Read a few books on money and finance in general. And then start reading up on investing. And make sure you read even more on risk. Not just financial risk, but risk in general. There are numerous non financial risks in your life which will impact you personally and financially. Such as job and income loss, divorce , illness. Read about how to cover those risks. Life is 90% other stuff rather than money. Albeit a lot of people feel otherwise. Think about what you want in life first and foremost. Think hard. And then make a plan on how to get there.

Well after this short intermezzo, it’s numbers time.

DateStockCurrencyAmount
23-10-2019Cisco systemsEUR8,83
16-10-2019W.P. Carey EUR9,33
09-10-2019Vanguard FTSE All-world UCITS ETFEUR101,18
01-10-2019Coca ColaEUR5,41
01-10-2019NikeEUR1,98
TotalEUR126,73

Under 3 – New training schedule

Part one of my second attempt at running a sub 3 hour marathon has begun with testing out a new training schedule. It’s not that different from my old one but has some significant improvements. It has 6 instead of 5 runs a week , and more marathon pace km’s in it.

This week started of easy with 4 short runs with a distance of 6,5 km, one 10 km hill training and a long run which consisted of 16 km. Next week will be a similar week with slightly more km’s.

I looked into my previous schedules and the corresponding times I ran the miles at. Which made clear I ran my long runs were structurally too fast. This is a point I think I can improve my training quality on by watching my pace more. Which should result in a better condition and faster recovery. Although in the past the faster pace in the long runs didn’t really seem a problem. But science tells it’s contra productive to run your long runs too fast.

The idea is to test the new schedule before I start my training period for Dusseldorf, getting a feel for the new training load and see if I recover fast enough and don’t get injured. The journey has once again started !

Under 3 – A new attempt

While preparing for my last marathon I set a goal , running under 3 hours. At the time it meant a 18 minutes discount from my personal best. Quite a bit, and a reach. But the effort of chasing this goal was a new Personal best , 3:09:25. Excellent progress, and thus proof that setting goals is a very rewarding activity. Now it’s time to try again.

The goal remains the same. A sub 3 hour marathon, the same location, Dusseldorf. What will be different this time is my training method, amongst other things. I have been training with a schedule for running a marathon and getting across the finish line in one piece. Which was a feat in itself 3 years ago after suffering my brain damage. Running saved my life when I got ill, simply because I had an excellent fitness level. Ever since it helps me function within my new boundaries to the best of my ability. So largely because of the running and the discipline it brings I am were I am today.

All the more reason to set this goal and get cracking. So the training schedule will be different. So the first step is figuring out what it takes for me to be able to run under 3 hours.
In the meantime I will keep training as usual. until I am largely confident of my new direction.

The second step will be nutrition , I already eat as healthy as possible without overdoing it. Om my longruns I always bring food and drinks , mostly gel and bananas for the food part. Only problem is I mostly don’t eat it. I simply forget when things go smooth, and when things get though, only then I start eating. Which means I am always too late.

When racing a marathon I never forget, simply because all the stations which can’t be overlooked.
But in order for me to get the most out of the nutrition I need to practice more. I am now looking into simply setting alarms on my watch so I don’t forget. Also the recovery food after my run can do with an improvement. So lot’s of work on that front as well.

Third step is a more efficient resting method. I already need lot’s of rest because of my brain damage. So I am not really sure how to improve this bit. I will need some research. Anyway I will update as much as possible on my progress and process. Until next time !

September 2019 Dividend

Another month in the dust, thus time for a dividend update. This month there are a few new dividends paying out due to the growth of the protfolio. Also a few, one bank and two insurers, which are a bit of a coincidence , as I bought the shares for option construction purposes and was expecting having nonen of them at the time they were handing out the dividends. Nonetheless it’s here and I am clouting it. A bit of luck really.

Its yet again a nice improvement from last year, although a bit skewed with the Dow Dupont merger and split process and the dividend by accident with the bank and insurers. It’s good to have a growth and progress in the portfolio. It keeps one motivated !

See you all next month.

The numbers:

DateStockCurrencyAmount
28-09-2019Vanguard dividend appreciation fundEUR1,51
20-09-2019AegonEUR15,00
16-09-2019Corteva IncEUR0,35
16-09-2019DowDuPont INCEUR0,82
14-09-2019Dow INCEUR1,91
12-09-2019MicrosoftEUR8,36
11-09-2019NN GroupEUR76,00
11-09-2019UnileverEUR8,21
06-09-2019ASREUR70,00
02-09-2019ABN AmroEUR60,00
TotalEUR242,16

August 2019 Dividend

It’s been a while. Writing articles got a backseat to real life. So I am a bit behind. But we’re back. With August and the monthly dividend report. It’s the usual really. An increase in dividend income comparing the numbers with last year. And not surprisingly because of the fact I am still building the portfolio.

Another reminder of how important it is to be consistent and dedicated, it works. It’s better too invest a small amount consistently , then larger amounts when you have money ‘left over’.

Another fact of life, the world is still in turmoil. Brexit, nationalism, trade wars , oil you name it, it’s happening. Just the day to day madness really. Just keep building that portfolio and stay calm. One step at a time upon the ladder of investing.

Ok enough talking, it’s numbers time :

DateStockCurrencyAmount
02-08-2019Amsterdam CommoditiesEUR24,00
12-08-2019NSIEUR12,48
12-08-2019INGEUR24,00
15-08-2019AMGEUR20,00
15-08-2019AppleEUR10,40
29-08-2019AholdEUR30,00
TotalEUR120,88

Option trade diary #5 – Advanced metallurgical group

This one is not for the faint of harted , today in my option diary series , Advanced metallurgical group. Which in a very short description makes difficult products out of precious metals. With emphasis on difficult, and precious.

It’s a very hard and volatile market on any given day, it’s a highly cyclical business and it’s always at the forefront of any wrinkle in the market. But it’s a nice stock to own just because the stuff it produces is only getting harder to come by and it’s something which will be more expensive in the future , and since were here for the long run , this is worth a bit of a gamble. So I sold two put options.

These are the options I sold :

AMG Put 14.00 20 December 2019, for 50 Euro’s
AMG Put 18.00 20 March 2020 , for 175 Euro’s

As you can see, these were sold right before a dip in the market due to tweeting presidents and the like. So my timing was a bit off. So this case shows this stock can fluctuate a bit , I told you so. Target is 50% or less before I buy them back. See you next time !