Quarter Life Crisis and Developing Quarterly Goals

In the wake of the recent quarter updates for the first half of 2017, I wanted to touch base on a “quarter-life-crisis” in my own life that sparked a radical overhaul in my approach to money.

It is easy when it’s easy so to speak, so this post will go back to how I was able to claw my way up and into a richer life. If you’re already familiar with the ah-ha moment of my life, then skip down below to the Developing Quarterly Goals section.

Quarter Life Crisis

With excitement and opportunity comes overwhelm and a lack of clarity on where to go next. As Ray Dalio, the famous investor puts it, “You can have anything but you can’t have everything.”

^This will play a role later in the story!

For my quarter life crisis, I need to take you back to Matt before he was a CPA and before he knew anything about money. (Yes, talking in the third person….yes, it feels weird!)

I can still recall the memory so clearly. I was reading late at night when I stumbled across a remarkable fact. It was maybe 2 in the morning, but I saw it written down on the book: early retirement existed. I saw an example of a 42-year-old retiring early in a time of limited social mobility.

If someone could do it back in the 1700s, then surely (I thought), with the technology and resources available to help us today, it must be just as possible, if not easier.

This was the primal “scream” moment in my life.

I knew my quarter life crisis had led to a discovery of a new path in life. Of course, it would take a MASSIVE amount of action, over many years of saving, investing and overall money savviness, such as developing 17 money saving strategies to save 50K last year. 😉

But hell, the journey was immediately worth it when I saw the opportunity to spend twenty years working instead of forty.

Of course I want to buy 20 EXTRA years of my own life.

Again, this was the moment I knew I needed to make new decisions in my life.

It was the moment when everything became so clear — stepping out of the foggy matrix where I was stuck.

So, what’s next from here?

Developing Quarterly Goals

Booya! Now that the clarity was there in what I wanted, the next step was developing a strategy and the goals to accompany that strategy.  If you don’t have a life strategy, then seriously check out this short 5 minute clip on how a life strategy is beneficial and almost integral to achieving goals.

When we execute on a plan it can be counter productive to tackle too much. Therefore, creating the plan should be much more strategic than a simple, “Wish List for Today,” and instead should incorporate more of the, “where do you want to be down the road?” type of questions.

Once the strategy was figured out, the quarterly goals approach I used was, and still is: spend 90 days focusing on 2 or 3 big goals.

I always write them down because not writing them down in the past (for me) led to an unsuccessful quarter.

First, focus on the largest money items if possible. For one example early on it was the cost of a car and the next paragraph is how I tackled it.

Develop a Principles First approach by identifying everything from the ground up. Instead of thinking, “I need a car to travel to work…how much does a car cost?” we can ask the question, “What is the most effective and efficient approach to transportation?”

The answer for me was to move close enough where I could bike or walk to work.

Once the 90 days are up, try to move onto the next 2 or 3 big money goals – and set deadlines if you keep seeing the same ones recurring.

The same Principles First approach was applied to our living situation as we went from a 3 Bedroom/ 2 Bath with a roommate (great for saving some money!) to a 1 Bedroom/1 Bath. CNBC was nice enough to make a video highlighting us and our strategy.

The approach works wonders but expect it to take a few seasons for habits to really compound. Absolutely worth it though!

The Value of Quarterly Goals

 

Too often we are wrapped up in the day-to-day where we are swept up in the river of life. Or, we are casually living our lives when all of a sudden it is January 1st and we try to implement New Year’s Resolutions. The reason those don’t stick for the 99% of people who fail is because they failed to coordinate their goal with a strategy.

Apply this same approach on your next 90 days and see what crazy results you can come away with! If 90 days is too long of a time, then try for 30 days, but aim to work your way up to larger time increments.

But remember, you can have ANYTHING you want, but you can’t have everything!

So, what are you prioritizing as your next goals? What’s your approach to developing quarterly goals or goals overall? Or, have you had a quarter life crisis? How did you handle it?

-Matt

P.S. I need to credit a Chicago friend of mine, Wade Alters, for the title above via a great podcast episode with the same name.

4 comments… add one
  • Mrs. Adventure Rich Jul 19, 2017, 6:00 am

    I really like the idea of quarterly goals. Currently, Mr. Adventure Rich and I have the “big goals” we are working towards (paying mortgage, saving for a new roof and a few tweaks to our house, heavily investing, etc), and we track our net worth monthly to keep a pulse on the ups and downs of our finances. But I think a shorter term goal setting rhythm like the quarterly goals you track to would be really helpful to keep us focused and aligned on a day-to-day basis.

    And yes! Mr. AR and I both had some form of quarter life crisis, both of which ended up spurring positive life changes 🙂

    • Distilled Dollar Jul 19, 2017, 7:41 am

      I live by quarterly goals and would be nowhere without them! I love the 90 day factor too and as you highlighted, they often can act as spring boards to get back on track or ways to start for a new goal.

      Too bad we can’t just read about someone else’s crisis and then have the epiphany ourselves! Although, I’m glad (in hindsight), because these types of events tend to bring clarity through the pain and turmoil. Not the ideal set up, but that might just be life. 🙂

  • Mrs. Picky Pincher Jul 19, 2017, 8:05 am

    I like this idea! Quarterly goals are wonderful because they’re still top-of-mind. I tend to completely forget about yearly goals (like those damned New Year’s Resolutions–oops).

  • Edwin | Cash The Checks Aug 13, 2017, 3:51 am

    Quarterly is just the right length of time. Yearly goals don’t work because work and living situations can change. Monthly goals are so frequent they become less important.

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