finish each day and be done with it

Jersey City Manhattan skyline view
Today I woke up and braced myself for Mondays, as I often do. I greeted Bubelah and Pumpkin when they came downstairs.  I drank coffee and ate eggs.  I went up to get Little Buddy when he awoke.  We enjoyed our morning.  I kissed everyone goodbye and walked out the front door to work.  I went back in the front door to get my wallet, which I forgot.

I spent a few hours at work in meetings. I spent a few more writing what I refer to as “handholding” memos – step-by-step descriptions of how a process works.  I was irritated at a client who didn’t understand what he wanted.  I ate a turkey sandwich and raw almonds and drank seltzericon for lunch.  I wasted money on a second seltzericon ($1.50 apiece, for the record) and some wasabi almonds (I had a hankerin’, as we say in the old country).  I discussed Brett Favre with co-workers, a lot (I live in New York and yes, I am a Jetaholic).  I read about Georgia.  Monday ended, as Mondays always do.

I left work and met my sister-in-law (a rising college freshman) and her friend visiting from Germany and drove them to our house. I picked up pizza for all of us for dinner.  After dinner I put Little Buddy to sleep after a bath.  I read him a few Maisy books.  The girls (Bubelah, her sister and her friend from Germany) went to the waterfront to see Manhattan at night.  I stayed home.  Pumpkin woke up, so I fed her.  Little Buddy slept like a log, the little champ.  I watched the Packers break in Aaron Rodgers, and made a few phone calls to my bank for problems with an ATM transaction.

It’s a cool evening in New Jersey. It’s quiet and I have time to write.  Why?  Because I’ve done a few things:

  1. I gave up on aggressive investing in individual stocks and put my retirement money in index funds and forgot about them.  This freed up a lot of time.
  2. I automated almost all of our payments.  We keep the lone “big” payment, our American Express payment, unautomated, but other than that all of the smaller payments are made without our involvement.  We save, pay our mortgage, pay our utilities, phone and so on without even thinking about it.
  3. I have chosen a path where I have an irregular salary – but I can control its irregularity within limits.  Today, I stayed 8 hours.  Tomorrow, I might stay 9 – or 7.  My pay changes depending on what I do.  It’s an enormous freedom that most salaried employees don’t have.
  4. I have a to-do list, but it’s complete and it’s focused, so I don’t have to spend time worrying about it.  I find that if you simply write down everything you need to do, it’s one great load off your mind.  Of course the larger load off your mind is when you actually DO the things you need to do, but writing them down is a good first step.
  5. I spent a lot of the day focused on what’s right instead of what’s wrong.  As I mentioned yesterday, there are a lot of people worse off in this world than I.  It’s easy to forget that and focus on your credit card debt or your mortgage or the tough job market – but we do have a lot of benefits here in the West.  The abundance around us is staggering.

So I drank a glass of wine and watched some football and put off some chores. I know I should’ve done my work instead of watching TV, but sometimes an activity feels like a piece of a puzzle.  A quiet game and a full glass with an open window and a cool breeze – while your fully automated payments and recorded to-dos and low-stress investments churn away – feels like the puzzle’s been solved.

Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

photo credit: Burning Image

12 comments

  • Sounds like a good day (well, minus the “handholding memos”). I like the idea of starting each day with a clean slate. When we allow things to carry over day after day stress and depression tend to really pile up and weigh you down. This is something I need to work on.

    I can only imagine the buzz around NY/NJ regarding Favre. It will seem strange to see him in something other than a Packers jersey–at least it will still be green. I hope the move works out well for him, and the organization.

  • torbjorn rive

    I have to admit it’s been a few weeks since I’ve checked in with BripBlap, and I’m glad I came back.

    Way to keep it simple. Dreary, yet positive. Ha!

  • Well congrats on simplifying your life Steve. Even though I propagade dividend growth investing to masses, I do agree that index funds work for most investors who don’t want to get involved in stock picking and selection and I respect that.

    By the way I listened to you on the radio. http://marketplace.publicradio.org/display/web/2008/08/08/personal_finance_bloggers/

    Congrats on being a celebrity! 🙂

    • Many thanks – my 15 minutes were cut down to 5, but hey, it was actually a very fun interview and I enjoyed doing it.

  • I agree with moving on after the day is done, but be careful not to let too many days pass you by in a blur. It’s easy to get into a routine and lose track of time…

  • Love it. As for the handholding – sometimes you have to have the bad stuff to remind you why the good stuff is so good. 🙂

  • Sara at On Simplicity

    Beautiful. I too feel guilty when I brush off work to enjoy a quiet evening. But while I may feel twinges of guilt in the moment, in the end, I never regret it. The work gets done eventually, and the balance is priceless. (I think you really put it well with the puzzle piece analogy.)

  • Well, so far so good – Favre had a good debut!

  • Many thanks – my 15 minutes were cut down to 5, but hey, it was actually a very fun interview and I enjoyed doing it.

  • Many thanks – my 15 minutes were cut down to 5, but hey, it was actually a very fun interview and I enjoyed doing it.

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