Four thousand one hundred sixty weeks. This is how many weeks you would have if you lived 80 years. I do not know how that makes you feel, but it forces me to have a new perspective on the fleeting amount of time we have on this earth. Carpe Diem!
It is easy to get caught up in day-to-day tasks. We get busy and do not feel like we are able to do the things that are most important to our health and wealth, like spending time with our kids or grandkids, exercising, reading/learning, saving/investing, etc. No one disagrees that these are important, and yet, most people let the busyness of daily events get in the way of a more productive and fulfilling future.
I like using arithmetic to provide a new perspective on my everyday decisions with my time and money. It is a simple way to illustrate the power of small changes.
I want to read more books, but I do not think I have enough time during the day. I cannot commit several hours to sit down and read during a day, but I can commit to 20 minutes. Twenty minutes times seven days means I can read 140 minutes a week, which means I can read 7,280 minutes, or 121 hours, a year. It takes roughly 12 hours to read a 400-page book, which means I should be able to read ten books in a year by committing just 20 minutes per day.
Now exercise. I don’t have 1-2 hours a day to be in the gym, but I can commit 30 minutes daily to walking my dog. On average, I can burn 150 calories during this walk. One hundred fifty calories times seven days is 1,050 calories per week. Extrapolate that out over the full year, and I would burn 54,600 calories on these walks. One pound of fat is 3,500 calories, which means I could burn off 15 pounds of fat in one year just by walking my dog every day for 30 minutes.
Now investing. I would imagine most people would feel comfortable spending $5 a day. What would happen if you contributed $5 every day into a Roth IRA? Five dollars times 365 days is $1,825 saved over a year. Perspective matters. An annual lump-sum contribution of $1,825 feels different from $5 daily, but they are the same.
Breaking your time and money decisions into smaller commitments can give you the confidence to start making small changes today rather than waiting for a perfect time that will never come.
Small changes work like compound interest. For a while, you will not see the results of your efforts, but over time, the positive results begin to build on each other, and before you know it, you have read dozens of books, improved your health, and have thousands of dollars saved rather than spent. You only have 4,160 weeks if you are lucky – think small and seize the day.
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