Personal finance, it’s very personal.

I read a lot on personal finance, just too learn from people and their approach. It’s not just the financial independence part I’m interested in. Mostly I am more interested in how people go about the decision making process. A always pick something useful out of that. One thing I have learned it’s an incredible personal journey. The math is different for everybody, as well as time span, risk adversity and all other factors one might take in consideration.

There are some basics , most people start off by paying off consumer debt, student loans and mortgages. The variation starts from that point on, one might want to pursue a world trip , others want a better retirement or really early. All of these goals have different metrics. So there is not one right way , generally speaking the basic and key metric is spent less than you make.

One thing I have learned along the way is , make sure you know what your end goal is. And make sure this is really what you want. This is generally the hardest part to figure out. It’s has partly to do with the amount of time it takes achieving these life changing goals.

Also goals can change over time. And that’s ok, nothing wrong with that. Just don’t change them every month week or year. The journey in itself is rewarding as well, focussing and maintaining an outlook with a better and more secure future will pay off sooner than you think.

As it being personal one key thing will change for most. Your stress levels will decrease once your debt decreases and your net worth increases. Your mindset will change for the better. More mind space is available for things other than worrying. In my experience things will get better fast, more relaxed and your mind sharper. The main thing is getting better not just financially but also mentally and physically.

As with all long term goals you will get lost on the way, it helps defining and keeping an eye on the main prize at the end of it , but setting intermediate smaller goals in sync with the end goal keeps you enthused on the journey. Find those small goals and make a list. Once you get one , mark it as done. Celebrate it ! Share it with people that are important to you. Once the list is done, make a new one and save the old one. It’s a nice reminder of where you came from. It has worked for me in every part of life, not just finance. With my recovery as well. It keeps you grounded and thankful for progress made. It’s not an easy task getting in (financial) shape, but the ups and down will make you stronger !

While goals and time lines may vary wildly , the benefits and rewards that come with more financial stability are around the corner. The beginning might seen hard but your persistence will pay off. Find your first goal and stick to it.

Under 3 – Tenth week of training

Another week of training is done, one less run but all the others were a bit longer. With some build in speed parts and hill training. I was a bit tired at the beginning but at the end of the week it all went better. Lot’s of rain and wind as well all week, I don’t mind a bit of rain but every training gets a bit too much.

This is the first week of a serie of weeks where the amount of kilometers gets too an all-time high. In order too get me into marathon mode if you like. The long run was especially cold , wet and even some hail too accompany me on this 32 Kilometer long run. I started out early and after a few km’s in, I was already soaked. So I decided too ditch all the watching the hart rates , speeds etc on my watch and just focus on running and enjoying a nice pace.

After the first half the rain got a bit lesser, and even the sun showed up sometimes. It went very well and also my gel intake was up too par. I wasn’t really fatigued at the end and my muscles were not sore after and not the next day.

It also was pretty fast, I did however got some rain damage along the way but it wasn’t too bad. A very good week again despite tired me starting out.

Onto the next one !

Fear

Fear, my biggest fear ? Losing control, or more accurate losing the illusion of control. I have always wanted too have as much control over my life as possible. More often than not pushing it too the extreme. Combining this with setting high demands for myself and big goals, I made it quite difficult for myself to really have control. Not in ways of getting towards my goals but controlling myself.

Eventually my biggest fear became reality, I now only have limited control over my life. The daily condition of my brain determines what I can and cannot do that day and it makes for a lot of unexpected moments. Offcourse I do all I can controlling this. It’s my nature.

The difference with the past is I am not trying too force this at all costs. All I can do is plan well , exercise and train well and rest. Controlling everything simply costs too much of my valued and scarce resource , energy.

It had taught me that living in the moment is very valuable, you simply cannot control every aspect of your life. You can work on creating the conditions and environment too increase your chances of achieving your goals, and thats an attitude I recommend too everyone. But in the end you are reliant on so many factors and moments that there is a point at which it simply does not make sense trying to control more. You end up in an illusion, and you keep pushing for more influence on a increasingly smaller effect on the outcome of events.

Energy better spend on fun things in life, or activity’s which you can do in reaching your goals. Not just trying too control everything.

It’s strange how you always fall back on old instincts , which have taken me far in life and still my discipline , controlling nature and perseverance take me far today. But in the past these attributes were in my way a lot of the time. It backfired numerous times when achieving my goals. Controle became a goal in itself. There was no more logic.

Now there is more acquiescence, frustration about my failing brain is still there, and also acceptance is a long way down the line, but this has given me the insight in the simple fact you can better put your energy in little steps towards a goal , the using it too control stuff you can’t. Or obsess over details. Problems will arise anyhow, and when they do , I will deal with them.

My life has a lot more direction and focus , and is more relaxed than it used too be. Everything is a bit smaller, at a lower pace. Unnecessary fear is bad guidance , and working at overcoming this fear is a very valuable side effect too my brain damage. I doubt if I would have ever gotten it otherwise.

3 years later

It has been 3 years already , since my brain injury, a sort of 3th anniversary combined with my 39th as it were. It has been a year of learning, yet again about dealing with the inevitable limits caused by permanent brain damage. Most notably the realization that there is, in fact a limit in what I can achieve. Building at expanding my activities in the way of work, social life and all other activities is not something I can do limitless. Although this was always in the back of my head, by planning meticulously and adding slowly that I somehow could return to my old levels, and in a way my old self.

As it turns out , that’s not the way it works, last year I upped my working hours towards 8 hours per week, first in 2 days and later on spread out over 3. It all seemed to work out, at least this was the initial feeling. Until the fatigue hit me and it took a couple of months in recovery getting back.

So I will keep it at 6 hours over 2 days. Which means I can recover and get a social or other activity in a week. Which is always fun, especially getting together with family and friends. In my enthusiasm I will go over my limits on such occasions , just because it’s so good having people around. So it’s a bit of a focus this year in getting the most out of that time spent.

In this quest in staying as stable as possible , keeping myself fit is crucial , the fitter I am, the better I can cope with moments were all else fails. Purly on physical strength I can manage to stay afloat. Getting home when I miss a train, It’s way too busy or if I simply forget too rest enough.

Periods in which I could exercise less my overall functionality and recovery was way off. It took ages. Luckily I really enjoy my running sessions, which clear my head like nothing else. It’s the one thing I can really control which is excellent because it’s vital in my ability too function properly.

A discovery which I hadn’t made when I was in my revalidation stage , is that the left side of my body is way worse than it was before. I hadn’t noticed this because I predominately use my right. By getting into exercising and building strength on my left side, I hope too improve this.

The hard part is realizing that I am , most likely at my maximum capacity , and I now know what it takes to stay at this level. A lot of disciple , rest staying fit and planning. It’s very weird not having a full time job , bering dependent on other people for a lot of things and being restricted in crafting your own future.

Nevertheless , I am very lucky being this well off, having a lovely group of family and friends to lean on. This makes me a very happy and fortunate person. Which I am very grateful for.

For the future it’s important too find real acceptance and not too hold on too the past and the vision of getting to were I was before this happened. I have too find progression in a more natural and organic way instead of just pushing my limits.

Find the challenge in things I can control.

2019 goals

A new year and new goals, this will be my first time setting goals , up until now I mostly used to do lists and loosely set goals. Resulting in missing real focus. In turn running up the to do’s on the good old to do list.

First up the finance side of tings. Which can be roughly divided into 2 parts, mostly cost reduction and building wealth. The easiest way for reducing costs is paying off the mortgage which is the only and biggest debt. Last year saw the biggest reduction so far. It’s so easy it’s hard not simply keep on doing it. However I am now at a point which all the alternatives in the market, renting or buying another house will be more expensive. I have no way of living any cheaper. The mortgage needs paying off so I will continue doing the extra payments but the focus needs too be on other more lucrative investments. So the goal for 2019 is paying off an extra 1200 euro’s. That’s it.

Which leaves the other part , my stock and ETF portfolio. A fixed amount will be added each month, divided over ETF’s and handpicked company’s. In which dividend payments will be one of the main factors, as part of my passive income strategy. My goal is getting my dividend payments up too 1500 euro’s per year. In 2018 the total got over a 1000 for the first time, 1021,80. A small milestone. Let’s see if my new goal is achievable.

Something new I got into in 2018 and developed more during the year is options trading. Which turned out too be the suprise of 2018. I used too write options every now and then on stocks I wanted too buy, not really consistent and just for fun. Mostly I didn’t get the stocks and I tried again. After some time I started making this a more systematic approach and I also started writing options on stocks I had in my portfolio.

At the end of 2018 I also started using part of my cash buffers as collateral for writing options. Usually you will have a good idea which part of the buffers you don’t need in the coming month, so it’s pretty safe using a part of this as a way for generating extra returns.

All in all this approach yielded a nice 10,21% return on risked capital. Not shocking in the option trading world but for me an encourachement for learning more about it and applying this in 2019. I will write about my learning process in the option series on this blog.

So 3 finance goals, keep downsizing the mortgage , generate more passive income and enhance the result with option trading.

But without my health all the money is worthless. 2018 has been a year with a few stark reminders of my permanent brain damage. I took on too much in some instances and got into a few nasty periods afterwards. 2019 is all about finding and keeping the balance again and really accept my new me. I can’t keep going on adding more work each time until I crash. The focus will be on being stronger, training the left side of my body and going back too the start of my revalidation process and taking and celebrating small steps forward. I will elaborate more on this in coming blog posts. For now have a very good 2019 !

Redesigning everyday life – Change

Change, it’s slowly but surely making it’s way into my everyday life, a change that I meet with resistance one time and embrace on other moments. I am now getting better results from my new planning system and also being a lot more aware of my energy. A challenge is too really relax and take it one day at the time. It’s mostly the day to day stuff that’s getting better. Less crazy dips when I should have been able to avoid those. The avoiding is going well, after being inside for almost a complete week due to a knee injury I found that staying inside actually helped in controlling the amount of incentives , consequently I kept avoiding going outside. Which I am now doing a again every day. I can’t stay inside all the time, so I am now picking that up again. It’s also important too maintain a social life and keep connecting with people. Also something I need to focus on more. The new way of distributing my energy should yield a better base line and more stability in the next 3 or 4 months. After this point I can gradually increase my activities.

With all day to day stuff going better I slowly need too look ahead. I am now trying to get permission to get a coach with a lot of experience in getting people with cognitive problems back to work, since I am now receiving payment via the government they have too approve this. So hopefully I will have a meeting within the next few weeks. So I can get this started.

So all in all many good things, in many small steps.

Redesigning everyday life – Carpe diem

The biggest question of all, how far will the recovery go. Nobody knows the answer, or can give you a range. I knew that from the beginning. What I didn’t know is what it meant for me and everybody around me.

I am slowly learning what it means. I have to give up my desire to control things, which is hard to do because I have always had some sort of plan and knew if I followed the plan , the goals would be reached. Most of the time anyway. You can’t win them all.

I’m trying to let go of my old ways of doing things, which was to work hard and work harder if it didn’t go as planned.
Fighting was my number one response if events didn’t go my way.

It was my first response in my recovery, I wanted to get back to normal as fast as possible. So I went back to work pretty quick and set out to up my activities almost on a weekly base. Not just the hours at work but also activities at home. I felt tired pretty quick but tried to fight it and push on, which normally worked upon till some degree. I kept this up until my contract at work ended and I felt just how much energy this had taken. And I suffered the inevitable set back most people experience in their recovery. I had tried to train my way out of it. But it’s not sport or even studying were you put in the time and effort and it mostly pays off in the end.

I was simply draining myself and burnt the energy I needed to recover. So after the dip I had to really rethink the approach and take taking my time to recover seriously. I talked about this period with the people who help me recover and they said it was time for me to accept my current situation and not trying to compare everything to the way I was and did things before. Most of the progress is with acceptance and trying to live one day at the time. So it was back to the drawing board, the result was a new system for energy management which allows me to go into more detail when planning my energy and some extra help in acceptance and the psychological side of things.

The new energy management system will show results after 3 to 4 months give or take. If the balance is solid I can them go and experiment further. the other part is the acceptance bit. Given the results of the Neuro psychological tests I can’t expect to fully recover to my former self in terms of concentration , analytical capabilities and information intake and memory. Most likely I can’t return to my old job. The funny thing is , I was already exploring other options before I got this. Off course the cards have been shuffled differently since then, and I never pulled the trigger on those options. It was easier and way faster to go back into my ‘old’ job then it is to make a real switch.

Now I have the opportunity to explore things I am really passionate about , and step outside of my comfort zone and habits, without going all practical about it all the time. I have never taken these kind of exercises seriously in the past, Amusing yes, but my practical side always took over and I just continued with life. In general there are always more excuses to stay on a course that feels safe and secure, or feel that way. So when I was told that it’s a good exercise to brainstorm what it is that makes me happy in life, my first reaction was a bit sceptical.

But then again what do I really have to loose ? All my prior attempts failed because of self imposed boundaries and limits. And without having a solid outlook I just as well go and think out of the box and give this a real shot. I always found people living by the day a bit naive, never planning ahead seemed like a path to certain failure. But now it’s really time for me to incorporate some of that ‘Carpe diem’ in my life and find out where it takes me.

Redesigning everyday life

Last few weeks I have been taking some more rest and time out to reflect on my progress so far. It’s been a steep learning curve and I am now up to a point where I almost know how much energy I have on any given day. I am now working on a system to score the amount of energy of each individual activity in a way such that I can compare and measure my flow of energy.

Until now I was giving out colours , red for an energy consuming task, green for an energy giving task and yellow for neutral. At the end of the day I also scored the overall day on a scale of 1 to 10.

While this was fine it didn’t help me as much as I wanted, especially when planning ahead. While thinking about this , I set on designing a system that helps me plan my activities more accurately and thus keep the heavy dips in energy at bay. So my first idea was to come up with some kind of system to score my activities and my daily available energy amount.

I discussed my idea with my therapist and she had a system which they don’t use that often because it’s normally a bit to hard for people to understand. But it has exactly what I need , a scientific based scoring method to score your activities. It also has a tool to calculate your base daily energy.

The goal for me is now to start and measure the activities and score my days. Once I have that sorted I will be able to manage my energy in a way that the strange dips in energy don’t occur as much any more.

For me this is a great step in redesigning my life in such a way I feel more in control about it. It also opens a lot opportunities to develop this further. Since it’s more accurate than just handing out colours it has a lot of potential for analysing my day to day and week to week planning.

I am very enthusiastic about this new method and hopefully I can report some good progress over the next few weeks and months.