I find I often try to re-invent the wheel.

But I’m slowly learning it’s easier just to develop a template once, a formula, and then reuse it when a similar situation popped up.

About a year-and-a-half ago my wife and I came to a crossroads. We needed some change. We had been living in a three bedroom townhouse for almost five years, and we were debating whether to 1) sell it and move out or 2) rent it out and move out or 3) continue living there,

We kicked around various options, asked people (mentors) in our life.

Then one day we decided, let’s start with Option 1. If we get a good offer, sell it. If we don’t, move to Option 2. And then after that, Option 3. Rather than debating the merits of the choices – all of which are valid, btw – just start working your way through them.

We ended up selling, moving to Calgary, and getting pregnant just over a month later. There is some irony there as one of the driving reasons for moving out of the townhouse was our difficulty getting (and staying) pregnant, and the emotion that comes from not filling up the rooms in the house. The two bedroom condo we moved into we quickly outgrew when the baby arrived.

Now we find ourselves in the opposite position -> we are back in Airdrie, renting a house now. And we are trying to decide do we 1) continue renting, 2) buy the house we are renting or 3) buy a different house. I suppose there’s a 4th option -> rent somewhere else.

I’ve learned that any decision in life is a game of pros and cons, of trade-offs. We have a blessed life and all that will really change are some numbers on a page somewhere -> less investments (in the form of a down payment), gaining more equity, lower costs, etc. But ultimately nothing will change too much…we’ll still go biking, drive the same vehicles, we might even be in the same place. Same friends, same church, same work.

So I’m setting up a time to get a number from our landlord. Then we can weigh that out against comparators. Work through the options.

Formula, template.

Copy, paste.

Image courtesy of Surfnet Kids. In case you’re wondering, I picked this because I googled “formula”, and this came up (even though Newton’s formulas are laws…).

Risk, Part 2

I realize I’ve already done a blog post on Risk.

This time though, I’m talking about the board game.

More specifically, the Hasbro version, an app you can install on your tablet, phone or computer. And I have it on all three.

It’s my guilty pleasure.

I’ve never been a big video game player with the occasional exception. I enjoy Age of Empires (and the various expansion packs) and Battlefield (and the various versions). I always thought of games on your phone – such as Candy Crush, Killer Birds, etc. – as time wasters, unproductive, etc. But I got into Risk about a year ago and it’s really got me hooked.

Initially, a Captain I was flying with introduced me to it. I knew the concept from when I played the board game growing up. Many of you might know this game as a relatively boring, slow pursuit with increasing aggravation on the dice rolls that proved luck often outmatched any strategy or skill. Many of us would agree most great games involve a little bit of both.

Quick side note. I’m also a curling fan, and yesterday morning I watched the 2021 Championship Final of the Tim Hortons Brier. I was watching Elijah while my wife went and procured sewing supplies. It was an epic final, with 4-time champion Kevin Koe (Wild Card) taking on Brendan Bottcher (Alberta). It was a battle of Alberta, and a game of cat-and-mouse.

That is, until Kevin Koe’s first rock picked in the 7th end. That left Bottcher with a wide-open hit to lay 3, Kevin missed the double and Bottcher cracked the scoring open with a three-ender. Changed the entire complexity of the game, based on a hair or some piece of debris on the ice.

Skill, and luck.

Back to Risk.

The game play is quite a bit quicker thanks to the ability to “fast forward” through the computer’s turns, and also a feature called “blitz” where you don’t have to continually roll the dice. Where my indulgence picked up was during the start of the COVID days a year ago, when we were all socially isolating. Every morning I’d wake up with a coffee, throw an invitation into a group chat (including some friends and my dad), and we’d play a game together.

Like my weekly online poker nights, it slowly trickled out as we went into summer time, and into the fall when I had a baby. But I still play a couple games of Risk a day, each taking about 15-20 minutes.

About the time it takes to write this blog post.

I just looked at the profile on my iPad, where I play the bulk of my games. I’m considered an “Intermediate”, with a rank of 83,649. I’ve played 413 games (!!!) and the scarier part – played 135 hours (which is almost a week). My online ratio (against strangers) is 21 wins to 44 losses, friends 29-15, Pass & Play (mostly with my wife) is 50%, and the bulk of games (against computers) is 265-35. I’ve defeated 55k troops to my 43k.

Going back to my post on streaks, my longest win streak is 22. My longest lose streak, 6.

I’m glad I don’t spent more time doing it. I know one Captain – different than the one I mentioned above – who has spent over $20k on a Transformer App. He’s one of the best in the world at the game. I haven’t spent a dime on Risk, which helps me meter how much I play. There’s two “bonus maps” that come out on Sunday nights, and on Monday I play the map against 5 computers, and then on Tuesday 4 computers, etc. Until the grand finale when it’s a 1-on-1 fight on Friday.

It’s nice to have those little timeouts.

Technically, it’s called “Risk: Global Domination” on Steam

Long walks

I just finished up a 4km walk to round out three days of walks. Yesterday was my longest-ever on Strava, almost 14km and the day before I’ve already talked about out at 13.5km. Whether these can be considered ‘hikes’ or walks really doesn’t matter, what matters is the time spent outside doing something physical.

While it might not be going to the gym, or biking, or even running, it’s something. And as I’ve talked about before, something is certainly better than nothing. Much like this blog post. I have all of about ten minutes before I need to close down the laptop and head to work. I could spend that time scrolling on Instagram or Facebook, but instead I decided to crack this open. Normally I do it in Word and then spit it into here, but this time I went right for it.

It’s something.

I listened to an interview on Atomic Habits author James Clear and he talked about the 2% rule. If you want to do Yoga everyday for thirty minutes, don’t start by doing Yoga everyday for thirty minutes. Instead, pull your Yoga mat out and then fold it back up and put it away. He talks about some guy who would drive to to the gym, walk in, walk back out and drive home. He lost almost a hundred pounds.

So with that, I’ve started doing a pushup set everyday. Right before bed. I put it in my HabitShare app, and I’ve successfully done it two days in a row. 30 pushups each time. Fast forward a year and I wonder what it will look like. A year from now I wish I would have started a year ago.

Look at my Running Club, or my Bible Thumpers (Biking Club). We aren’t out there running or biking everyday, we run 3x a week and we bike 3x a week (sometimes 4). It’s enough that it’s something, without being so much that it becomes nothing (overwhelmed exhausted).

It’s sustainable.

And now I actually get excited to go running without it feeling like a chore. And I CANNOT WAIT until my little boy is six months old – just two weeks away – so I can start pulling him behind me in the chariot. That said, he is growing up quick, so I need to slow it down.

Funny, I just looked at the time and it only took me 3 minutes to type this. Per my 5AM Club I always give myself 20 minutes to ‘journal’. It’s almost like time slows down when you decide to slow down a bit.

I definitely want to do that with my loved ones.

Time for a nice stroll with the family later, me thinks.

Nice cherry blossom in Sydney, BC

Running Club

I have about twenty minutes to write this post before I go for a run.

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been running Monday and Thursday nights at 9PM, and again Saturday morning at 9AM. According to my HabitShare app that I talked about in a previous post, I’m currently on a streak of 3 and overall I’m at 86%. In fairness, that would be 100% except I did a run Tuesday morning instead of Monday night due to having to fix a plumbing issue in the new house.

Why do I do it?

At least part of it is I’m preparing for the Banff Marathon coming up in September (originally June, but they moved it a week again). I did the half marathon virtually last year with a time of 2:30:20, by running from Banff into Canmore. I did the same run, but the opposite direction, four years earlier with a time of (I’ll get back to you). Both times were with my good friend Eric, and he’ll be with me this year too.

Speaking of friends, that’s another reason.

The 5KM loop I do – when I’m in my home city – goes right by two of my friends’ houses. One – Jesse – I’ve mentioned on here before, the other – Anthony – I’ve also mentioned as my accountability partner. Both are now avid readers (I know they’re going to read this and laugh). They come out and follow me around the loop, drop me off, and carry on back to their places.

Proximity is another reason.

Recently, I moved back to Airdrie, and one of the key reasons is to be closer to our community. My brother and his family are here, our church is here, some of oldest friends are here, and it’s closer to my parents and extended family that live a half-hour north. Our last spot had good friends nearby, but we were still driving up quite a bit. To be within running distance is great, so I’m happy to take advantage of it.

Growing up, I did a paper-route with my family. My mom would drive us kids around and we’d run by my Youth Pastor (Andy) who would be running with some of the church guys. I always thought that was cool.

Also, routine.

There’s something satisfying about it. The guys I’m in the running club with are part of the “400 pound club”, a group who were regularly attending the gym, for a myriad of reasons (some may be listed here). Among those goals was the aspiration of leg pressing 400 pounds. Anyways, they’d meet 3x a week at the same times as I listed above. So I figured the next-best thing would be a bit of cardio.

Finally, discipline.

I don’t particularly enjoy running. I prefer the gym or even riding the bike. Or hiking. Or sitting, sometimes. But again – going back to my post on external vs. internal motivation) – I feel compelled to go out and run when I know the guys will be there or at least my accountability partner Anthony will check my progress on the HabitShare app.

Gotta keep that streak alive. I want my golden star.

Tonight I’m running in Kelowna on a layover. I’ve done a 5km (5.07 actually) loop virtually here before, a route recommended by Patrick. I just screenshot it on Strava and send it to the group to participate in the club virtually. That was followed by a walk (3.55km) and a hike (8km), and today all I did was the hike (mind you it was 13.57km total).

I’m going to retrace the same loop and try to beat my own time – which was 27:38 last time.

I’ll report back when I return.

28:13. Thirty-five seconds slower!

More importantly though: Anthony and Jesse did the loop back in Airdrie at the same time!

Running Club is off to a good start.

View from the hike today (Knox Mountain, facing south)

Jack & Blake

Ugh, back to money. This one is fun though.

I follow Dave Ramsay. I’ve taken Financial peace University with my local church (Venue Church) and I listen to his podcast and have him and a couple of his co-workers at Ramsay Solutions. Namely his daughter, Rachel Cruze, and Chris Hogan. I listened to Chris Hogan’s book “Everyday Millionaires”. You might remember from a post a couple weeks ago that I’m a fan of Pastor Craig Groeschel as well, who re recently interviewed Dave Ramsay.

One illustration Ramsay uses is “Jack and Blake”, illustrated below.

Compliments of Ramsay Solutions

The idea here is pretty straight-forward, the sooner you start saving the better you end up doing. This illustration, I’ve discovered, is a bit exaggerated. I used Excel (not Google Sheets) to reverse engineer the graph, and they use an annual interest rate of approximately 11.5%. I realize that’s doable but I’ve dialed that down to 4%. I’m hoping for 8% in the market, and then taking 2% off for management fees and 2% off for inflation (to keep the final # in today’s $$$).

I’m hoping that’s conservative -> our mutual fund manager (which handles about half of our investments, equally split between RRSP and TFSA) only charges 0.5%. At the company I work for, they have a generous Savings Plan, where they 100% match our contributions up to 10-20% of our salary (depending on how long you’ve been at the company, and what division you’re in). My contribution and my employer match is managed by Manulife, which gives us a discounted group plan fee of approximately 0.75%. Inflation is generally at or below 2%, although I’ve heard with this COVID situation the Bank of Canada is willing to let that go above to keep things chugging along.

Anyways, as of last year, my wife and I have a humble $75,000 at the age of 30. That’s more than double what Jack had at this point (approximately $31,000) and far more than Blake (who had just started investing, so just over $2500). We plan to invest at least $12,000 a year, significantly more than either of the gentlemen (who are doing $200 a month). Needless to say, with the head-start and the added contribution we end up further ahead than both.

Even with a meager 4% return, we end up north of a million dollars before retirement. More than 4x Blake, and 10x Jack. That should be enough to retire on, and I’m hoping we can outpace that with added contributions or a higher net market return (better market performance or lower fees). The sensitivity is an extra $500,000 for every 1%. For example, getting 5% gives us an extra half a million in retirement. If we went to the original 11.5% Ramsay uses in his illustration, I’d have over $10 million.

Contribution wise, I’m ahead of the market. Even with part-time hours, and the above-mentioned company savings plan being suspended (until April, thanks to COVID), I’ve managed to contribute over $13,000 already this year – and we are just two months in. And my wife is on maternity leave.

I’ve plotted our position, as well as a few friends, and our niece who we helped open a TFSA account and got her started when she turned 18 a year ago. She’s 19 now, so it’ll be curious to see how she does. We are trying to get a couple young adults at church getting into it. It’s better to be Jack than Blake, and you can do even better with a bit of discipline.

Modified version of the above by Ramsay Solutions

Sometimes it seems like it’s taking forever – that’s one thing I got out of Hogan’s Everyday Millionaires – you’re running a marathon not sprinting a race. Slow-and-steady and avoid the get-rich quick scheme. But looking at this it’s a great visual to be able to see the progress and relax a bit, just keep working the process and we’ll be just fine.

Risk, Part 1

Let’s take a break from all the finance stuff! My taxes are 90% done, so I’m ready to move on.

I went to Mount Royal University for an Aviation Diploma and subsequently a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA), graduating from the latter almost a decade ago. One course that has always stuck with me is an Introduction to Philosophy course. One of those courses you ‘have’ to take to make a well-rounded person.

When we got to the part about Philosophy of Ethics, there were three main branches we studied: Hedonism, Utilitarian and Religion.

At the time, I categorized myself as a Utilitarian. So I was pretty excited when we learned about an “experience machine”, a thought experiment to debunk hedonism or prove how flawed the idea is that “happiness requires pleasure” (i.e. hedonism).

Philosopher Robert Nozick brought this argument forward in his book “Anarchy, State and Utopia”. Basically, the reader is invited into a machine where pleasurable experiences are produced, and – once inside – the reader will not be aware they are inside.

If you’re having trouble picturing this, think of the Matrix movies. I’m convinced they poked fun at this thought experiment, and so is Mazursky in his blog Nozick’s Experience Machine and The Matrix.

You might remember Cipher, who betrays Morpheus (protagonist of the movie). He has a nice dinner with Agent Smith (the antagonist of the movie) and the conversation goes like this:

Agent Smith: Do we have a deal, Mr. Reagan?

Cypher: You know, I know this steak doesn’t exist. I know that when I put it in my mouth, the Matrix is telling my brain that it is juicy and delicious. After nine years, you know what I realize? Ignorance is bliss.

Agent Smith: Then we have a deal?

Cypher: I don’t want to remember nothing. Nothing. You understand? And I want to be rich. You know, someone important. Like an actor.

Agent Smith: Whatever you want, Mr. Reagan.

Cypher: Okay. I get my body back into a power plant, re-insert me into the Matrix, I’ll get you what you want.

Compliments of Matrix Fans

I won’t spoil the movie for you, but as you can likely predict, things don’t end well for Cypher.

You see, most people, even hedonists, when confronted with the choice of whether or not to go in the machine will choose not to. They pick the “non-perfect” world we live in over a simulated reality, and why? If hedonism is true and “pleasure is good”, they’d be climbing aboard. But this proves that some pleasure isn’t good, or perhaps, more importantly, non-pleasure can also be good.



Star Trek drives this point home. Five years before The Matrix came out, Star Trek Generations came out. It was a great cross-over movie with Captain Picard (The Next Generation) going into something called “The Nexus” to get Captain Kirk (from the Original Series). The Nexus is essentially a sci-fi Experience Machine. For Captain Picard, he gets something he always wanted -> a family, and for Captain Kirk, he chooses to stay with his wife versus pursuing a career with Starfleet.

Picard figures out he’s in the machine and wants out, but has trouble convincing Kirk. That is, until Kirk takes his horse riding and jumps over a small stream. He does it two or three times before Picard catches up to him, and Kirk describes how – when he used to do it (in real life) – he would get butterflies. He’d be a bit nervous. The transcript reads “it scared the hell out of me”. Why? Because he didn’t know if he’d make it to the other side. Now, in this pleasure-inducing experience machine, what could possibly go wrong?


Side note -> Captain Kirk imparts some wise words to Captain Picard.

“Let me tell you something. Don’t! Don’t let them promote you. Don’t let them transfer you. Don’t let them do anything that takes you off the bridge of that ship, because while you’re there, you can make a difference.”

Compliments of Chakoteya

That was good to hear as a young pilot. Actually, as a young man. Find where you can make a difference. And it doesn’t have to be on the bridge of a ship. It can be, but doesn’t have to be. Captain Kirk made his decision and he did make a difference on the Enterprise, but he could have had he retired from Starfleet and stayed with his wife. For him, it was too late, and no experience machine was going to change that.

But for a young teenager watching the movie, with his full life ahead of him, it gave me some direction.

Beautiful Day. How Captain Kirk greets Captain Picard. I still use this phrase with my wife, she gets the reference. Image from TrekCore

TFSA or RRSP (Part 2)

So the RRSP deadline (March 1st) has come and gone, and I elected to leave my savings in TFSA. That’s where we left off on my last post , where – generally speaking – if you think you’ll be in a higher tax bracket in retirement than you are right now (or think personal income tax rates will be higher), go TFSA. In-terms of after-tax dollars, it’s a wash until the differential on marginal tax rates is taken into account.

Oh, and by-the-way, I’m not a financial advisor. So all the usual disclaimers on that, don’t sue me, do your own due diligence (DD in Millennial). I have no idea what I’m talking about!

But – the other piece to factor in is Canadian Child Benefit (CCB), Goods and Service Tax (GST) / Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) refunds, and the Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG).  Basically, the less “money” you make, the more of these benefits you get. And now that I have a baby, I have to start thinking about at least two of these things (CCB and CESG).

Omololu (2020) writes “because RRSP contributions are considered a tax deduction on your income tax return, they lower your taxable income and can increase the amount of CCB payments you are eligible for!”

Ok but how much?

Like personal tax rates, it depends on how much you make. For 2020, it starts at $6,785 per year (for children under 5, like my 5-month old). Then it rolls back as you make more money and have more kids, per the following schedule:

Number of ChildrenUnder $31,711$31,711 to $68,708Over $68,708**
Compliments of Omololu (2020)

So carrying on in my 36% marginal tax example from my last post, let’s assume I grossed $100,000 in 2020. My wife grossed $50,000. But the above table uses net (take-home) pay, which was approximately $60,000 for me last year. And approximately $30,000 for my wife. So $90,000 total.

Without any RRSP contribution, my CCB would be approximately $3493.86. Free money from the government, showing up as a cheque each month. Not just a return on the interest-free loan we give the government each pay period (in the form of over-paid tax).

By contributing the $10,000 into an RRSP, my CCB goes up to $3813.87. Because I only made $80000. So an extra $320 a year, or just under $30 a month. Or an effective return of 3.2% on the $10,000.

This is quite interesting because before the TFSA / RRSP debate was solved by looking at your marginal tax rate now versus retirement. But in retirement I don’t plan on having children, so this 3.2% won’t exist.

Now that’s a pretty small number. Especially compared to how much the personal income tax changes as you move up in the brackets. However, if you plan to have more children (which I do), it becomes more exponential. Look at the Scenarios Omololu (2020) uses here.

In my case of $90000, once I have four children the difference becomes almost $1000 by contributing $10000 into an RRSP. So that’s an extra 10%, and (hopefully by then) I’ll be making more money, so I’ll be able to take advantage of the refund in a higher tax bracket.

And Occam’s Razor. I found out last week I was going to be bumped into a First Officer pilot position come April 1st. So having some cash available in a TFSA makes sense (versus locked away in an RRSP), especially with a baby and my wife on maternity leave (and also a cabin crew member who is current laid off). Overall, we are fairing well in these COVID times. Flourishing, actually, but that’s for another blog post.

Btw – I’m happy to pay taxes because we get things like maternity leave. My buddy took a high-paying flying job in overseas but his wife got $0 when they each of their kids. And they had to pay tuition for their kids to go primary school.

Oh, two other things. GST / HST credit -> the max you get back for a married couple is $592, varies with a bunch of variables but the main one is income (by the looks of things). Not a huge potato, less than 5% in our $10000 example. And CESG, you can get an extra 10% (to a maximum of $50) on Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) contributions if you make less than $98,040. Even a smaller potato when talking about $10000 (less than half a percent).

The other frustrating thing is the RRSP deadline (March 1st) is the day after when your employer is required to get you your T4s (February 28th). So calculating this is quite difficult and timely, so I try to track it as I get my paystubs so I have a SWAG (millennial for estimation) on where I land in all this.

All that to stay, I’m sticking with TFSA for now.

Right now, we are trying to do $208 a month (so roughly double this) and have done so since Elijah was born. This gives us the magical $2500 a year, to maximize the CESG (20% up to a max of $500). We could squeeze a bit more if we dropped our income below $98k a year,

TFSA or RRSP (Part 1)

This is a good one to get out.

Out of my head, that is. As per my blog post two days ago.

I rattle this question around alot. I’ve asked many a person, and there doesn’t seem to be a huge consensus. It’s one of those, it depends.

Can you repeat the question?

Take a very simple example. It’s February 25th and you have $10,000 sitting in a savings account. Should you put that into a Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) or a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP)? If you don’t know the difference, check out an explanation by Adrian at Canadian in a T-Shirt. TFSA here, RRSP here. Full disclosure -> I’m a paid subscriber on his YouTube page.

Oh, and by-the-way, I’m not a financial advisor. So all the usual disclaimers on that, don’t sue me, do your own due diligence (DD in Millennial). I have no idea what I’m talking about!

RRSP. In our simplistic example if you put the $10,000 into an RRSP, you’ll turn around and get a $3,600 tax refund. That’s assuming you’re in (and stay in) a 36% marginal tax bracket. And you didn’t reduce at source. Don’t forget the RRSP contribution deadline is March 1st.

That’s why I’m writing the blog today, just a few days before that deadline. Which (ugh I know we aren’t supposed to start a sentence with that), btw, is really tomorrow, because the last two days of February fall on the weekend.

Fun fact -> February 2021 is a perfectly rectangular month. Full description on that here. And I’m a Christian, so yes, Sunday is the last day of the week.

Stay with me here.

Now, knowing that you are going to get a $3600 tax refund, you can take out a short-term loan for $3600 and invest $13600 into an RRSP. Now, you’ll get a $4,896 tax refund ($13,600 x 36%). You can pay off your short-term loan and still pocket just over $1200.

Or, planning ahead, you can take out a $4800 short-term loan, add that to your original $10000, put $14800 into an RRSP. Now your return is $14800 x 36% or $5328. Pay off the $4800 loan and pocket just over $500. Diminishing returns, yes, but I developed a formula that calculates the exact amount.

Where x = loan amount, y = initial principal, and z = marginal tax rate.

In our example, x is the unknown. Y is $10000, and Z is 36%. Plugging that in, the exact amount for our short-term loan is $5625. So you take out a $5625 loan, add it to the $10000 you have sitting there, and put $15625 into an RRSP. You get a tax refund now of $15625 x 36%, or $5625, and pay off the loan in its entirety.

Great, so if we go the RRSP amount, we can turn our $10000 into $15625. So why not go that way?

Because one day, you’ll retire and pull that out. And if your in the 36% tax bracket, you’ll be back to your original $10000 (plus any interest / growth you make in-between).

If you go the TFSA route, no fancy math and your $10000 grows tax-free since you’ve already paid tax on it. So you end up with the same amount of money.

Ok, so it’s a tie-breaker then? Flip a coin.

Not quite. Where the delta (difference) comes in is if you change tax brackets. I assume all the millennials have exited the chat by now.

Take the same $10000 and assume you’re in a 50% tax bracket now. Plugging that into our formula above, you can put $20000 into an RRSP. $10000, plus a $10000 loan. Your refund will be $10000 ($20000 x 50%), pay off the loan. Now you have $20000 working hard for you.

Fast forward to retirement, pull that $20000 (plus growth) out, but now you’ve dropped to a marginal tax rate of 36%. Well you only get dinged with a $7200 tax bill (only?), so you walk away with $12800. That’s more than the $10000 if you had left it in a TFSA.


That is how I understand an RRSP works. It’s a deferred tax vehicle, so you kick your tax obligation down the road until, hopefully (?), you’re in a smaller tax bracket.

So now we can conclude, based on all of this and my non-tax-expert rambling, if you think you’re in a higher tax bracket than you’ll be in retirement, go RRSP. Otherwise, TFSA.

That’s generally what most financial advisors have told me…but.

There’s this thing called Canadian Child Benefit (CCB), Goods and Services Tax (GST) and / or Harmonized Services Tax (HST) refund(s), and Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG). You see, if you lower your taxable income by contributing to an RRSP, the amount you get for those starts to ratchet up as well. But I’m already past a page, so that will have to wait for tomorrow.

Photo courtesty of https://www.mashupmath.com/blog/perfect-february-2021


Well, it turns out I might be extrinsically motivated.

I mentioned this to Jesse (same Jesse I mentioned in a previous post) – another millennial – and he responds, “externally?”. Ya, exactly!

All the boomers reading this just said “ha! I knew it!”

Yesterday I installed an app on my phone called “HabitShare”. It’s an extremely simple app. You open it up, login with Google (top-tier feature) and add a Habit. Right now, I have “5AM Club”, “Clean”, “Running Club” and “Blog”. I’m looking at it right now and there’s just little circles that represent each day of the week for the last week. A green dot represents a day where you did said habit, a light grey dot means you have yet to input whether or not you’ve done it, and a dark grey dot is a “skipped” day.

The idea here is to track whether or not you’re doing a habit.

More importantly, perhaps, is you can add friends and add them to a habit. So I have an accountability partner, who’s been in my corner of the ring for almost a year now. He’s changed the trajectory of my life. I texted him yesterday and he installed the app. We give each-other full access to each-other’s lives, so he sees my three above and I seen his four.

I might add more, but it’s a start.

The whole concept here is the psychology of streaks. Now, anyone with Snapchat will be familiar with this concept. And for all you boomers, I had no idea what streaks were until a Captain I was flying with (fits into the baby boomer generation) added me on Snapchat and sent me two messages a day. That’s how you get “streaks” going, at least on Snapchat.

On HabitShare, all you have to do is get green dots in a row. So my 5AM Club has a Streak of +2, Running Club +1 (we only run three times a week), both sitting at 100%.

Now, I totally realize this is an adult-version of your teacher putting gold stars on a calendar.

To say I’m disappointed in myself would be an understatement. I’ve never been the guy who boosts a strangers car and then tweets about it (modern day version of looking around to see who noticed), or posts a picture of me being at the gym on Instagram. I’ve ran many kilometers (I live in Canada) by myself, but I do record most of them on Strava.

Do I really need a bunch of green dots and an accountability partner to get out of bed at 5AM? I’m a grown adult, I should be able to do it. But some of the most disciplined people in my life have it, and some of the world’s leading experts on leadership, habits and discipline.

Instead of fighting this, I’m starting to embrace it. If I take the time to setup the right structures in my life, will I be more motivated to do the right things. Do the ends justify the means?

Photo courtesy of https://my32cents.wordpress.com/2019/05/08/does-god-take-attendance/. Looks like an interesting blog, I just subscribed


My good friend Jesse recommended a podcast where Carrie Nieuwhof interviews Patrick Lencioni. Check it out here.

I did have to Google both of these gentlemen to figure out how to spell their last names. I’m also an avid fan of Pastor Craig Groeschel, and I’ve managed to memorize that spelling. I did just have to add all three to Word’s dictionary thought.

Anyways, Lencioni recently developed a model called the “Six Working Geniuses” and Nieuwhof interviews him about it. Turns out I have the working genius Tenacity and Wonder. Tenacity was no big surprise, and I predicted I would have it (and “Discernment”, which I scored average on). Wonder, however, is a surprise. Mind you, I’ve always been a very curious person (is that the same thing as Wonder?). And I went and took the Working Genius quiz to learn more about myself.

And my wife. And my friend, Jesse.

For Jesse it was also a thanks for the recommend, and it was his birthday (don’t worry,  I got him ice cream and bacon too).

I’ve done plenty of these quizzes in my life. Just look at my LinkedIn profile (see the contact section on this site). I’m a 3 on the Enneagram, with a 4 wing (corrected from a 2 wing after my wife read this). I have a Gold personality, and I’m an INTJ (Rational Strategist) on the Myers-Briggs

So don’t really see Wonder in there.

However, a month has passed and I see where it fits in.

Learning. I enjoy learning.

In fact, I enjoy it so much its become problematic. I like to learn about everything. I’m an analyzer, and this quickly leads to over-analysis, or paralysis-by-analysis. Hence the title of this blog post, “Uncluttered”.

You see, I spend all my time trying to figure something out, but it eventually feels like squeezing blood from a rock. In my last post, I said I’d talk about my approach to investing. If anyone has dabbled into that, you know it’s a complicated world -> TFSAs, RRSPs, Mutual Funds, Indexes, Inflation, EPS, Stocks, Bonds, ETFs, Percentages, Compounding Interest, etc. How much of that should I try to figure out and learn, or should I just go to an Investment Pro and hand them 15% of my gross pay?

Occam’s Razor. The simplest explanation is usually the right one.

Not always, but often.

At the very least, the simplest answer lets me stop the Wonder and be present in my life. My $30,000+ MBA is, perhaps, the pinnacle of my academic learning. The biggest lesson I learned was the value of being concise, and that sometimes less is more. Or with more, you get diminishing returns. I could spend 40 hours a week on a course and get a 89%, or spend the minimum 10 hours a week on a course and get 86%.

I actually tried this with two back-to-back courses (Operations Management and Project Management Governance). The second of which I was going to drop out of because I was feeling burnt out. So I told myself just do it, but do the bare minimum. And I actually got a higher mark (A+ vs. A). Anyways, that’s ultimately what this blog is about. I was at my Habits life group last night and one of the leaders says she writes “a lot”, so she writes “a lot” to get it out and be done with it.

So this is my journal, a place to offload and dump all my inner thoughts.

Picture courtesy of CUInsight