2018; How Did You Measure Up

What are your criterion for success?

The catalyst for this post was an unintentionally funny Tweet from one of the dudes from self-improvement Twitter listing accomplishments of which he apparently is very proud. They related to money, Twitter followership and a couple of others. I am guessing he got a lot of flack for this Tweet (it may have been an entire thread, I didn't click to see) because I saw at least a couple of more Tweets justifying the original Tweet. This dude is part of a cadre of guys whose Tweet volume far exceeds their wisdom. I see them by virtue of likes and retweets from the couple of people I do follow in this space and while I realize I could mute them, I think to myself they have so many followers that maybe they'll actually Tweet something useful.

Where the dude in question appeared to measure is success in terms of numbers (I think this is valid, I am just having some fun with the idea of making a proclamation about it on Twitter) I take a different perspective, I am more focused personally on more qualitative milestones.

  1. Did you help people this year?

If you actively volunteer then this is low hanging fruit. I've written dozens of posts about volunteering and how rewarding it is for my wife (her work in animal rescue) and me (with the fire department). If you've helped people, that's a measure of a successful year.

  1. Did you go someplace new (to you)?

People love routine (I am somewhat guilty) so it can be difficult to break routine to see or do new things but to the extent it is a big world out there, a fulfilling life should include new things even just something close to home, new is new and that's important.

  1. Did you learn new things?

This could be learning more about something you already know about or learning something completely new, maybe virtue of taking up a new interest. A crucial component of successful aging is staying curious--learning new things.

  1. Did you do anything to improve yourself?

This does not have to be something big. I would say keeping yourself fit is a form of improvement, you're staving off sarcopenia (the natural loss of muscle associated with aging) and you are surely better off for doing that. Great if you did something big in this realm.

  1. Did you work on being happy at home?

Whatever this means to you, did you do it?

  1. Did you save any money this year?

This is an investing blog after all so it had to come up. Saving money ties in with a couple of the others and I think it is clearly a success when you can put some away. Personal finance articles often talking about paying yourself first by putting some into a 401k or the like but at a higher level, the benefits of setting aside some money somewhere are obvious.

  1. What about investment performance?

Forget about beating the market, as we have looked at time and again, all you need to do is be kind of close over longer periods of time. The best way to do that is to avoid truly self-destructive behaviors like selling out after a large decline or putting way too much into a lottery ticket company. Not that you won't make a trade that in hindsight shouldn't have been made, putting 2% into something that goes to zero is not a truly self-destructive behavior, it's just a bad trade.

There's probably more to add to this list, I will update the post as appropriate.

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