Traveling to Atlanta and thinking about thinking

I’m on a flight to Atlanta right now and there’s no internet (or at least no free internet, and we’re all about not spending pointlessly here at The Dan Plan) but I can save a blog on my phone and figured now is a good time to get down some thoughts while there are minimal distractions. Sometimes the best chance we have to sit and think for a bit is when we’re trapped in a small seat being flung 540 mph 30,000 feet in the air along with 198 fellow humans. Although, with so many personal devices it’s easy to occupy this time with a screen, too, as I am now with this blog.

Not that there is anything wrong with occupying time. I’m not about to get on a soap box here, just saying I have a little time to think and it’s a welcomed event.

Chicago Ideas Week posted all of the talks that were given during their 2012 event. Check out the one I gave here:

Also, Newstalk Ireland interviewed me this past weekend. Listen to that story here:

People often ask me how I can afford to do The Dan Plan and the short answer is through savings. In the five/six years before I began the project I managed to put away a large chunk of funds each year and have been living off of that since heading off on this journey in April, 2010. At first, I thought it was going to be a 4 year journey and had saved accordingly, but since then have realized that, and this is with the guidance of Dr. K Anders Ericsson, the type of practice necessary to be “deliberate practice” is not something that you can do for 10 hours a day, nor 8 hours a day, and the timeline has grown from 4 years to about 6.5. Looking at my progress to date that means there are about 4 years remaining in the The Dan Plan. Knowing I currently have four full years remaining of living off of savings that was meant to end in 2014 is somewhat hard to financially swallow as the funds don’t replenish themselves as I go, but now that the everything is rolling I am certain that there will be a way to finish the entire 10,000 hours.

I suppose the point is that assumptions only serve to get us in trouble. Whenever building or planning anything, always add in extra for the what-ifs. Coming in under budget or finishing quicker than expected never trips you up, but falling short can be a heartbreaker.

I am definitely not saying that I am concerned about coming up short, but rather that if I was to start today I would tell myself to plan for 1.5x what I thought I needed.

There has been a bit of financial stress as of late. A large portion of my savings is tied up in the market and as is true with stocks there is a good chance for quality returns as well as a realistic risk of losses. Over the past year one company that I had my largest amount invested in has dropped a significant percentage. As a personal policy, I never have more than 25 percent (still too much in my opinion) of my savings in any single entity so a complete collapse in one investment doesn’t mean a grinding halt in the project, but significant loss is a significant loss and has to be dealt with appropriately.

Part of having investments is that there are good times and bad times and the best way to recover from the bad ones is to approach it like a bad shot in golf. You can’t always force a recovery and sometimes you just have to take your medicine, be patient and wait for a good time to strike. Also, it’s best to remain unemotional about the immediate; to not panic. Often waiting out the trend is the best policy, but when that doesn’t work take your miss hit/loss well and try to learn from your mistake. As former president Bush attempted to quote: fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. Every day is part of the learning curve and we don’t always get it right. Learn from it and next time around you shall win.

Never let a setback thwart you, too. Take them as a challenge, as an adversary you can take down. There is nothing that can get in our way.

For a great resource on ways to save up for your own Dan Plan check out Benjamin Graham’s classic investment book: The Intelligent Investor.

Flight is landing. Spending the next week in Atlanta. I still have Saturday and Monday open if anyone wants to tee it up.

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