Your Personal Box
We all live in a “box” of sorts… many of them in fact.
How comfortable are yours? Do you have room to grow? Or, do feel stuck with nowhere to go?
It’s easy to get caught up and trapped in our own personal box without ever realizing we’re living inside of one. I do it all the time.
Many of our boxes are built with walls of self-imposed limits. Some of them are conscious, while others are not.
Today, I’m going to challenge you to peek outside of your personal box. Surprise yourself with a little “box” evaluation and experience the plethora of rewards just outside of it.
Let’s take a look at some common boxes we live in…
Your Geography Box
Are you happy with the “box” that you live in?
I’m actually writing this post on my return home from Dallas, Texas. I spent a few days on vacation here with a couple of my cousins to see how other people live outside of California (including fellow real estate investor and blogger, Eric Bowlin).
Although we knew there were some huge differences in cost of living, it was fascinating to experience it firsthand.
The price for homes are significantly less, and that’s even after the recent run-up on prices the last few years. For the same amount of money back in California, you can purchase a property with 2x’s to 3x’s the square footage.
Additionally, some jobs out there pay the same, or even more in salary (eg. medicine), yet Texas has NO state income tax! (Gasp!) This is also true in 6 other states – Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Washington, & Wyoming. That’s a HUGE chunk of savings if you’re a high-income earner. I saw this first hand when I sold my company and the acquiring company had offices in Texas. Some of the entry-level techs were able to purchase a decent house with a modest income, while my techs in California were lucky to rent a 1000 square foot apartment in a decent neighborhood.
Furthermore, a state like Texas is much more real estate investor friendly if you plan on being a landlord there. I won’t get into the details here, but good luck trying to evict someone out of a California property.
Of course, there are some trade-offs. Weather in Southern California is a premium advantage that you can’t experience many other places. We enjoy a surplus of sunny days with relatively moderate temperatures and very little humidity. I admit this is one of the biggest reasons I’ve stayed put.
The other reason some people may not want to move is their proximity to family and friends. Again, I understand this can be a large motivating factor in staying within a certain location. However, with technology (Facetime & Skype), it’s now easier than ever to connect with people regardless of where they live.
Even if you like where you’re living currently, it doesn’t hurt to peek your head out of your geography box. Travel and see the quality of life from another person’s perspective. You might just like what you see.
Your Career Box
Are you happy with the “box” you work in?
When was the last time you looked for a new job or considered a side hustle/business?
Living inside your career box can easily stifle your personal growth at times. In fact, I got stuck with in my own I.T. company that I had created. There were years where I was simply going through the motions without any real movement forward. A great paycheck should never be enough to short change you from finding fulfilling work.
How about you?
Some questions you might ask yourself to evaluate your career box are:
- Am I doing fulfilling work?
- Does my work capitalize on my full potential?
- Do I deserve a raise?
- Am I growing my skill set?
- Do I enjoy the people I work with?
What would happen if you focus some additional time and effort on making some significant strides in your career path?
Consider Dom, over at GenYFinanceGuy. He doesn’t just sit around and wait for an annual performance review in hopes of a cost of living adjustment. He grabs the bull by its horns! Today he’s earning multiple six figures. He has never let age stand in his way but instead focuses on how he can create value for the company he’s a part of.
As a former business owner, I loved employees that came to me with ideas. Some came with projects on their own initiative and I was happy to allow them some time to pursue it. These go-getters were much more likely to get a bump in their annual bonuses than those employees that just went through the motions.
I’ll tell you a secret too that most employers will never tell you… raises are not just available during your annual review! In fact, they are usually available year round. But, these raises only go to those who deserve them and/or those who ask.
Remember, the harder you push yourself in your career, the more valuable you will become… not only to your current employer but your future employer too. If you’re going to do something, you may as well do it well!
Take some time to review some job listings in similar positions or above. Get excited! You may be surprised to find you can land position elsewhere for more pay and better working conditions.
Your Relationship Box
Are you happy with your relationship “box”?
How’s your relationship with your significant other? Do you have a significant other?
Consider why we seek relationships in life in the first place. If you think about it for a while, you’ll probably agree it’s because we want to share our experiences with others.
When you get a really big win, what’s the first thing you do? Call or talk with a friend or love one, right?
Yet, over time we can take our relationship for granted. Like anything in life, if you don’t nurture relationships, they won’t flourish.
On the other side, you may just stick around inside of a toxic relationship for convenience… again, this is a limiting box that you’ve trapped yourself in.
Thus, I would challenge you to peek outside of your relationship box. Find out what’s outside. Change up your predictable patterns and seek something new to share, love, or give.
This year I enter into my 12th year of marriage. And while it’s super wonderful in some aspects, it does take some work. It takes work to find new ways to connect.
Having children also creates new challenges for couples looking to balance time for their kids and time for each other.
Quick Tip Gentlemen: Valentine’s Day is around the corner! Step up and do something unique outside of your comfort zone.
Your Wellness Box
Are you satisfied with your wellness “box”?
Do you have endless energy that fuels you forward each day? Or, do you feel lethargic and are prone to getting sick?
As I officially head into my 40th birthday this year, I’ve become much more aware of my wellness and the habits I need to keep to maximize my own energy.
After all, what good is having riches in your life if you’re not well enough to enjoy them?
I need to constantly remind myself about that question because it’s in our little daily decisions that really determine our long-term health.
Gone are the days that I can just sit around and eat whatever I want without gaining a pound. (That was 2 decades ago!)
To expand my own wellness “box”, I need to move around on a daily basis and exercise regularly throughout the week. As such, I’ve taken up tennis again in 2016, and am looking for an add-on exercise for 2017.
But, where I really want to expand my own box is in my consumption. I love to eat! (Hence why I’m also a food blogger). It’s not that I’m super overweight, but I know I slam bad things into my body on a daily basis (I’m drinking a blended mocha right now!).
Food can be addictive because it meets our human needs on multiple levels. So, I’m doing my best to evaluate more empowering choices available to me that are simultaneously healthy and meet my needs.
I will admit this is probably one of my tighter boxes and one that I’m more afraid to peek out from than any other. I’m open to suggestions!
Your Money Box
Of course, we need to talk about your money box. This is a personal finance site after all!
As you probably know, I’m not a frugalist. I don’t like “saving” money for saving’s sake. I’d much rather spend my money intentionally and try to maximize its purchasing power to satisfy my needs and wants.
Are you spending your money efficiently? Do you have a surplus or living paycheck to paycheck?
I know there have been multiple occasions where I’ll find myself wasting dollars. Paying absurd amounts for subscription TV was one of them.
We don’t watch a lot of TV. That’s a good thing, I know. But, we were still dishing out close to $140/month on TV and Internet.
So, once this came onto my radar, I called AT&T and headed straight for their customer service retention department. I was prepared to “cut the cord” that day, but instead, I was offered a huge $50/month reduction (good for 2 years)! They allowed me to move to DIRECTV which actually has more channels, and they also increased my Internet bandwidth for a total of $90/month. For a similar example, check out my post – How I Quickly Saved $756 by Being Nice.
Also, don’t forget to take inventory of all your automatic subscription accounts. You could be spending money and not even be reaping any rewards… eg. an unused membership site, or domain name renewals you aren’t using, 401k fees (check out Personal Capital’s free Fee Analyzer).
Finally, consider spending discretionary income on traveling somewhere inside of buying something. Traveling will engage your senses on multiple levels. The problem with buying “toys” is that the euphoria effect wears off much quicker and is not remembered as well as a vacation.
How about a mini day vacation just for yourself to recharge and evaluate your other boxes? When’s the last time you spent time planning your life vs. living inside of it?
Strategies to Expand your Boxes
I’ve covered a few different boxes that we all live within, but this list could go on forever. You know which boxes are healthy, and which ones are trapping you.
My main point is to become aware of new choices by peeking outside of your current boxes.
The best way to find these new choices are with the following strategies:
- Be inspired.
- Get excited about the Unknown.
If you like what you see, then perhaps it’s time to expand your box and reap the rewards.
Expanding your boxes doesn’t need to be hard or painful. It simply takes a decision to act.
Freedom is the ultimate reward with this exercise. Knowing that you have more choices and options than you realize is liberating. It also helps you to appreciate what you already have as well.
Readers, what other boxes do you live in? What new choices could you be excited about? Which box are you most satisfied with?