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The Secret to Finding Contentment in Life

running away

photo by sara b. and No One

Planning on Running Away?

Do you feel like quitting your job? Do you want out of a relationship? Are you keen to move to a new neighborhood? Why? Are the people miserable? Is your boss too demanding? Is your partner annoying you? Is there too much work on your plate at work?

Before you jump ship, have you ever considered that the source of discontent might originate inside you? Think about this: how was your last job, your former partner, your previous living situation? Did you find discontent there too? If you think about it for a moment, can you spot any patterns?

“Now hold up. My boss is a raving lunatic slave driver. My girlfriend is too needy. And all my neighbors are neanderthals!” Hmm. You may be right. I had similar feelings once too. Let me share my story and revelations and perhaps they will shed light on a new perspective for your situation.

Why Am I So Dissatisfied with My Life?

I had never thought of the possibility that my discontent with situations had anything to do with me until one day when I was having a serious argument with my partner. I was convinced that I was 100% in the right. I suggested that we seek a mediator to help us with our disagreements. He said he was prepared to leave if that’s what I wanted and then he said, “Just know that if we separate, you take your baggage with you.” At the time I remember thinking two conflicting things at the same time.

The first thought was “Huh? Is he kidding me? He’s totally in the wrong here and he’s telling ME that I’ll be taking my baggage with me?!” The second thing I thought was “Hmm. Wow. Maybe he’s right.” And I immediately began to see things from a different perspective. We ended up working things out and I realized that my “baggage” in that case was a tendency to judge, a tendency I didn’t realize that I had.

Career Discontent

Another similar revelation came when I switched careers. In my old career in financial sales, I felt constantly frustrated by the amount of work there was to do and the short amount of time in which to complete it all. I thought my frustration was because of the company and the job that I had.

Fast forward to today. I am a full time mother and writer and guess what? I am always frustrated by the amouth of work there is to do and how little time I have in which to do it all. So, the problem is not my job or the amount of work, but rather how I handle it. I want to do amounts of work that are unrealistic for one person who only has 24 hours in a day. That’s part of who I am. So I work on prioritizing, being organized, efficient, but most importantly on planning my time with realistic time frames.

Do Your Neighbors Make You Cringe?

A last example comes from a good friend of mine. We used to live in the same neighborhood on a couple different occassions. In these neighborhoods, for the most part, I always found friendly people. My friend, however, somehow always ran into grumpy people, encountered conflicts, and wound up in fights. There was a time when I thought she had bad luck. But, I’ve come to realize that it is her outlook on people in general. She doesn’t like most people. I now believe that this is what creates her negative encounters.

How to Identify the Source of Your Discontent

So, before you walk away from your job, your partner, or your living situation, ask yourself:

  • Am I running away from the situation or something inside myself I don’t want to deal with?

  • Is there something in me that needs to change?

  • What could I change inside of me to make the situation better?

There are definitely times when a situation is not right for us and it’s a good decision to move on. But it is always good to analyze a situation from several different angles, to learn from it, and grow.

Wishing you the best with all your decisions and transitions!

Please Share!

What do you run away from? All comments big and small are very welcomed!

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Hit the Shuffle Button

Hit the Shuffle Button

I have a new post over at today.

Do you find yourself living the same routines over and over? Need some variety? Well head on over to this article for some different ideas on how to expand your mind, opportunities, and horizons starting today. Hit the Shuffle Button

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Complete iPhone Links: Apps, Hacks, and Reviews

Complete iPhone Links: Apps, Hacks, and Reviews

I have a new guest post over at

If you have an iPhone and want to find all the latest applications and hacks or if you are considering buying an iPhone and want to find all the best reviews on the iPhone, head over to my article. It has links to everything you’ll need. Complete iPhone Links: Apps, Hacks, and Reviews


Please Share!

Have you found any great applications or hacks for the iPhone? Please share! All comments big and small are very welcomed!

If you found this post valuable, please SHARE THIS below with a Stumble or Delicious bookmark. Votes are always appreciated!

If you want to Support Life Learning Today, you can visit one of my sponsors, make a donation, or make a purchase at Amazon through one of my links. Thank you!



Decision Making Made Easy – Part 2: Multiple Choices

Making Decisions with Multiple Choices

In Part 1 of Decision Making Made Easy, I introduced you to the PMI tool (Plus/Minus/Interesting) for making a decision between two choices. In Part 2 of Decision Making Made Easy, I will show you how to use a Decision Grid Tool for making decisions when you have multiple choices with multiple factors to consider. This Decision Grid Tool can also be used for decisions where you only have two choices. I offer this tool as a free excel spreadsheet download.
Click here to download the Decision Grid Tool. (Free safe excel spreadsheet)

Steps to Use the Decision Grid Tool

1. Go to Tab called “Decision Grid” in the excel spreadsheet. If you want a smaller version go to the last tab called “Decision Grid Small.”

2. Type in Your “Decision Options” along the left hand column shaded in yellow. Example: Vacation destinations.

3. Type in your “Decision Factors” along the top row shaded in green. See example below.

4. If you need more columns (Factors) or more rows (Options) then use the tab called “Decision Grid Simple” which doesn’t have automatic calculations.

5. Score each Decision Option on each Decision Factor using a scale of 0(poor) to 3(best). It’s ok if some Decision Options score the same number on any particular Decision Factor. See below. For example, for the “Fun” factor, three of the decision options scored a “3.”

6. Decide and type in the relative weighting or importance of each factor. You can use any scale you want, but a scale of 1 (least important)-5 (most important) is a good one to choose. Again some factors may have the same weighting. See example below.

7. Multiply each score (in pink shaded column) by the corresponding weighting (blue shaded area) for that factor. Type the answer for each into the white shaded column next to the pink column. See example below:

8. Total the Weighted scores across into the “Total” column. (shaded in yellow) If you are using the “Decision Grid” the totals will automatically calculate for you. The highest score is the winning decision. In example below, the winner is “Caribbean Resort.”

Non-Rational Decision Making

Is “Carribean Resort” really the winner? At this stage you may be feeling “No, but I really want to go to Scotland” which actually came in 3rd place. That’s completely fine! You either misjudged your weightings or scores, or there may be a factor not accounted for in your grid, which in this example might be “Place I’ve always wanted to visit!” I have always found that doing the rational part helps me with eliciting the non-rational feelings on a decision. My best decisions have always included using both this rational approach and then using my gut (non-rational) to seal the decision.

Please Share!

Please share a recent decision an how you made it! All comments big and small are very welcomed!

If you found this post valuable, please SHARE THIS below with a Stumble or Delicious bookmark. Votes are always appreciated!

If you want to Support Life Learning Today, you can visit one of my sponsors, make a donation, or make a purchase at Amazon through one of my links. Thank you!



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How Much Do I Need to Save for Retirement?

How Much Do I Need to Save for Retirement?

Everyone knows that they need to save for retirement, but most of us don’t really know which magic number to shoot for. Our goal should be to meet our financial needs in retirement and not run out of money. When you don’t know what your target is, your saving efforts will probably be wishy washy. This article presents a simple process to figure out how much you will need. There are 3 easy steps. You can choose to get complicated with this, but simple is best. This should only take you about 15-30 minutes.

1) Annual Expenses

The first step is to calculate your annual expenses for your first year of retirement. I will present the most conservative way to do this. You can use this budget calculator to determine that. Here’s another budget calculator. Calculate what you expect your expenses to be using today’s costs. Don’t get too caught up in detailed estimates. Quick estimates will suffice. Once you have your expenses calculated, then you go to an inflation calculator or this one and estimate how much inflation will increase that amount.

So if you would need $40,000 in today’s dollars, then in 20 years with 3% average annual inflation, you would need roughly $72,000. Using 3% for inflation is pretty standard. You can always use a higher number if you feel that inflation will be higher in the future. Remember to calculate in any income you think you may have such as investment income, pensions, and social security. This will lower the amount you will need.

2) What Size Portfolio Will I Need? Try The 4 Percent Solution.

“The 4 Percent Solution” is the answer to “How do I ensure I won’t run out of money in retirement?” Based on a Monte Carlo analysis, “The 4 Percent Solution” states that there is a high probability (90% confidence level) that you can maintain your lifestyle during a 30 year retirement with a portfolio that is 25 times the size of your first withdrawal. Don’t worry if you don’t understand that. All you need to know is that this is a standard way to determine your target retirement portfolio amount.

So here’s how you use this. Take the annual expenses you calculated, $72,000 in our example, and multiple by 25. So in our example your retirement portfolio needs to be at $1,800,000. Conversely, if you are close to retirement already and you know how much you have, you can determine the maximum amount that is prudent to withdraw in the first year.

If you have a $1,000,000 portfolio upon retirement, then the maximum you should withdraw in the first year would be $1,000,000 X 0.04 = $40,000. The amount you withdraw each year after that can be increased according to inflation.

If you want a higher confidence level of not running out of money during retirement, you can:

  • spend less (best method)
  • save more (good method but difficult)
  • increase income by working part time during retirement (good method, a chance to try another field of work)
  • and/or increase your income by having a more aggressive investment portfolio (risky and not recommended for retirees or those close to retirement.)

3) Create Your Savings Plan to Hit Your Target Retirement Portfolio

Use an investment calculator to determine how much you need to save monthly. In our example, you need a portfolio of $1,800,000 upon retirement. Sounds pretty daunting, huh? Let’s take a look at how doable this is.

Let’s say you start out with a portfolio of $50,000 and that you invest that money in a moderately aggressive portfolio (80% stocks/20% bonds) of index mutual funds for 30 years. (See my Guide to Investing for help with setting up your portfolio ) Let’s assume an annual rate of return of 9%. You would need to contribute $581/month to reach your goal.

Now $580 is quite a bit of money, but somehow many people are able to spend that amount of money and not even realize it. Or how about your car payment, if you have one. For many people, that is a hefty number. But notice how when you really want something, you usually find a way to pay for it. It should be no different with your retirement savings.

Even if meeting your monthly savings target is a struggle, at least you now know what to shoot for. You can slowly begin to take steps to cut back on expenses. Take a look at my post on ways to improve your financial situation for some ideas. You can also play around and tweak any of the numbers in your calculations to make it easier to meet your goal. Save what you can for now and work towards saving the amount you need. You Can Do It!

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Please share your comments on Retirement Saving. All comments big and small are very welcomed!

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Decision Making Made Easy (Two Choices) – Part 1

Making decisions is always hard for me. It’s one of my Achilles heels. Here is a good method for choosing when you have to decide between 2 choices. It’s called PMI, short for Plus, Minus, Interesting. It’s an improvement over the simple Pro/Con worksheet.

How to use PMI:

  1. Take a sheet of paper and draw three columns, labeling them Plus, Minus, and Interesting. You can get a free pdf form from Example: Should I (A) eat dinner at home or should I (B) go out to a restaurant.
  2. In the Plus Column write down all the positives (the Pros) about one of your choices. Example: the choice (A) to eat at home.
  3. In the Minus Column write down all the negatives (the Cons) about one of your choices. Example: the choice (A) to eat at home.
  4. In the Interesting Column write down all the Interesting things that could result from
    this choice (A) whether positive, negative or uncertain.
  5. Assign points
    either negative or positive to each item in each column. You can be
    as arbitrary as you like, but a simple 1-10 scale or 1-100 scale should
  6. Add up each of the columns
  7. Total the three columns together.

If your score is positive this would indicate you should make this choice (A). If it is negative then you should choose choice (B).

PMI Table Example:

Should I (A) eat dinner at home or should I (B) go out to a restaurant.

PMI Table for Choice (A) eating at home:

    Plus Minus Interesting
    Food +10
    I have to cook -10 Might miss out on meeting new people -7
    know what’s in the food +8
    I have to clean up -10 Might avoid bad service +2
    eat sooner. No drive time. +5
    Not seeing anything new -8 Might miss out getting ideas
    for my writing -10
    I have to wait on myself -2 Miss out on exercise walking
    to the restaurant -7
    +28 -30 -22

We scores the table as 28 (Plus) – 30 (Minus) – 22 (Interesting) = – 24

So in this example we would choose choice (B) since the outcome was overall negative for choice (A).

PMI charts were formalized by Edward de Bono in 1992, in his book: Serious Creativity: Using the Power of Lateral Thinking to Create New Ideas, HarperBusiness, New York, US, 1992. Five Star rating on Amazon from 8 reviews.

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