Hope for your financial life and beyond

A Trick to Stay Motivated

Hidden Nugget Series #11 – “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”  Galatians 6:9

stay motivatedTwo weeks from today several significant milestones will take place in the Luke1428 household. On Friday, Oct. 11th, I’ll be flying to Maryland to compete in the Baltimore Marathon over the weekend. That event will bring to an end my arduous 5-month training schedule that has seen its share of nagging injuries, post-run ice packs and more diet restrictions than I care to think about. (Can I please just have a soda?!)

That same day Mrs. Luke1428 will turn in her final grad school assignment in what has been a three-year vocational transition from teaching high school math to becoming a full-fledged CPA at a private accounting firm. We’ve already celebrated the completion of her CPA requirements and this last class wraps up her quest to secure an MBA as well. I’ve written extensively in my monthly updates how mentally and emotionally challenging this has been for the entire family. I really can’t believe we’ve made it to the end of our long, dark tunnel.

Anything of value worth seeking brings some kind of hardship. Invariably the intense pursuit makes it incredibly difficult to keep moving forward day in and day out. The end looms so far in the distance. Weariness sets in. Discouragement soon follows. And then the questions begin.

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Labor Day Edition – Celebrate Yourself (Plus An August Goals Update)

Labor DayI’ve never quite understood Labor Day as a child. All I really cared about was that we received a day off from school. But what were we supposed to do on that day – more labor? Why do we need a day specifically telling us to work? What are we doing the other 364 days of the year? Resting?

The U.S. Department of Labor states that Labor Day “is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers.” The first Labor Days were marked by parades, speeches by prominent leaders and community festivals to entertain workers and their families. Many of those activities have disappeared as the holiday has evolved over the years.

In fact, I can’t remember ever having been to a large scale Labor Day activity. Maybe a small family event at some point. Most of my Labor Days have been spent doing work around the house (which I will be doing today – final summer trim on the bushes and a pressure washing of the front porch).

So as you enjoy the holiday, don’t forget to pay tribute “to the creator of so much of the nation’s strength, freedom, and leadership — the American worker.”

In other words – celebrate yourself today.

Quote source: U.S. Dept. of Labor

August Goals Update:


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Celebrating Victory: Reward Yourself For Life’s Achievements

reward yourselfI love celebrations! Especially when it involves my family or myself, either being the intended target or getting to help put the celebration on in some way. Call me selfish, call me self-absorbed but celebrations and finding ways to reward yourself are infinitely better when you have a personal stake in it.

Like the time my wife surprised me for my 25th birthday. We went out for dinner with another couple and came back to our apartment to have some coffee and play cards. I opened the front door to the dark apartment and was greeted with lights flipping on, the popping of balloons (which I thought were gunshots) and shouts of “Surprise!” from a dozen or so of our friends from church. The momentary shock contorted my face and caused me to curl my body into the fetal position. I posed like Lee Harvey Oswald being struck by Jack Ruby’s bullet.

Parties are great for significant birthdays, anniversaries, graduations and weddings. But we shouldn’t limit their usage to just those occasions. Perhaps the best time to throw a victory celebration is when you have achieved some personal goal in your life. The Luke1428 household reached a milestone last month that we’ve been working on for three years and boy, did we have a blast celebrating it this past Saturday night.

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July Goals Update: This Arduous Affair Is Finally Over!

Clock midnightCalls after midnight are never good and raise blood pressure levels immediately. Calls between 11 p.m. and midnight still pose some high risk. So when the phone rang at 11:35 Monday night, I sprang from my sleep anticipating the worst.

Oh no…it’s my wife on the other end. She is at church youth camp (with my 12-year old daughter) serving as a chaperone. This can’t be good.

“Hello” I said nervously, dreading what’s coming next. Boating accident? Broken arm from falling out of a bunk bed? Food poisoning? My mind races, preparing for the bad news.

“Everything’s fine,” she says. (Phew. Exhale.) “I wanted to call and say I just received an email from the Georgia Secretary of State saying my CPA license has been approved.”

If it hadn’t been 11:35 I would have screamed for joy!

Someday we will write about this crazy three year journey we have been on. For right now, I’m just thankful to God that goal is behind us. Way to go dear…You Rock!

Here’s my goal update for July:

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I’m Having a Yak-Attack!

Heart PulseMy hand is resting gently on the mouse, scrolling and clicking. Without warning,  a strange sensation comes over me. My upper body begins to feel a tightening pressure like the whole center of my chest is squeezing inward. The skin on my arm turns clammy, as my hand breaks out in a sweat.

Why can’t I breathe? Where is this anxiety coming from? I’m just working on the computer here.

Ok…settle down…you can do this. Copy code. Paste into widget. Save. Refresh.

Boom! I’m a Yakezie Challenger! Whew…that wasn’t so bad.

My sincere apologies to heart victims everywhere who experienced those symptoms and were faced with a life and death situation. Heart issues have impacted my family on more than one occasion so I certainly don’t employ those symptoms with jest. Only to point out the physiological and emotional tensions I experienced on a minute level as I concluded it was time to push my blogging self once again. Maybe you don’t get nervous about stretching yourself and going out on a limb like this, but I do.

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Luke1428 Goals Update – June

software updateSummer is in full swing and June has been busy at the Luke1428 house. Our schedule was jammed packed with camping trips, swim lessons, and vacation Bible school. In between it all, I still found time to start my marathon training (see below), update my blog design and complete many projects around the house I had been putting off. All these activities have been enjoyable, but I’m actually looking forward to the post-July 4th weeks to relax a bit before school begins in August.

I’ve really enjoyed the investing series I began in June. Even as an investor with some experience, it is always good to go back and revisit the basics of why I invest. Tomorrow I will be continuing with part IV of that series with a post entitled “How to Pick a Good Mutual Fund.”

On to my goal update for June.

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The Secret Goal About My Blogging Only Two People Knew

sunriseWelcome to a new day at Luke1428!

Don’t fret…you are in the right place. After 11 months I’ve decide to take the plunge and upgrade this site with a new framework and theme. The creation you see here is just the beginning as I gradually tweak and enhance the site in the next couple of months. At least that’s the plan.

The theme I have chosen is the popular Eleven40 Theme developed by StudioPress. The theme is designed to work in conjunction with their Genesis framework, which I have also purchased. Total package deal for the Genesis framework and the Eleven40 theme, $79.95. I’ll be sharing Friday some of the unusual reasons why I chose this theme. Stay tuned.

For the foreseeable future this has what I need. I could have gone the route of having someone else design my site. That would probably have saved a lot of time and effort and maybe will be something I do in the future. But I love the challenge of learning new things and building something from the ground up. I think that is why I liked my construction job in college so much. Plus I have a couple of months now to devote to this task, as I will be free from my school responsibilities for the summer.

It’s taken me 11 months of blogging to get here. So why in the heck did it take so long to make the change from a cheap, free theme to something with A LOT more quality? Couldn’t I have upgraded back in February or last September? The answer to that question is of course “Yes”, but for a commitment and goal I made to only two people.

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May Goals Update – School’s Out For Summer Edition

For those of you that think teaching is easy, think again.

Sleeping Student

Teacher job #206 – wake the sleeping student

It’s true that teaching can be a very rewarding profession but at times it’s a real grind. Staying on schedule and keeping the kids motivated all year can be a real challenge. A teacher also has to handle student discipline issues, meet with concerned parents and help with extracurricular projects assigned by the school. And that’s not to mention all the outside the classroom work teachers need to do to prepare quality lessons and grade papers. That usually takes up our evenings and weekends.

Teachers pack so much effort into their 9-10 month school schedule. We need a break just to recharge for the next year. That’s why the four most beautiful words a teacher hears (next to “You’re getting a raise”) are, “School’s out for summer!”

Cue Alice Cooper.

Now on with my goal update for the month of May…

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Time to Punt This Goal Away

In the game of American football, the offensive team has four downs to move the football ten yards. If they accomplish that feat, they keep their offensive drive alive by receiving four more downs. The process repeats itself over and over until the team kicks a field goal, scores a touchdown or commits a turnover.

NFL PunterOn most possessions, the team only uses three downs to get the requisite yardage. This is because the fourth down is a risky one, in that if the team doesn’t reach the first down marker, they turn the ball over to the opposition, even if they miss it by an inch. This happens no matter where you are at on the field.

So if a team reaches fourth down and they are backed up in their own end or have a long way to go to get the first down, they evaluate the situation and usually choose another option. That option is the punt. On this play, the center snaps the ball to the punter who is standing 10-15 yards behind the line of scrimmage. He holds the ball in front of him, plants his non-kicking foot and swings his kicking leg forward as the ball drops out of his hands. The ball is launched into the air and down the field to be received by the other team.

It is very much a strategic maneuver designed to minimize risk and gain field position against one’s opponent. It’s recognizing that the team failed on the current drive and is voluntarily giving the ball up. The team hasn’t lost sight of the goal, which is to score and win the game.  But by punting, they have just admitted they will have to wait for future opportunities to score.

The same can be said about goals and I have one I need to punt away.

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A Momentary Lapse of Discipline Almost Ruined My Dream

Basketball on floorI hate dilemmas. Four weeks before the most important half-marathon of my two year, mid-life running career, I’m being asked to play in a pick up basketball game to help our high school boys get ready for their state championship playoffs. It’s a great opportunity for a bunch of the staff to “man up” and help the boys knock off some rust before playoff time.

Plus, I love basketball and in another life (high school) I was fairly good at it. Also having been a coach for about 13 years before retiring my clipboard in 2010, I had helped develop many of these players in their middle and early high school years. How much fun this would be to engage them on the hardwood and assist in their mental and physical preparation for the upcoming tournament. I really wanted to help them out.

There is one problem however. I’ve got a race coming up. I’ve been diligently training for three months pushing toward my goal of running an under two-hour half-marathon. What if I’m unfortunate enough to get hurt in this game?

A strained muscle. Maybe a twisted ankle. Or the dreaded tweaked groin. These things happen in basketball all the time and could derail my opportunity to train and potentially reach my goal. Is this fun and rewarding endeavor worth putting my body and my dream at risk? What in the world should I do?

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Remembering Boston & A 2013 Goals Update

Boston Marathon BombingHow do you respond when the atmosphere of an innocent event designed to celebrate the human spirit is shattered in a violent moment and people’s lives are turned into a nightmarish hell?

We rush to help however we can. We cry with those in pain. We give of your time and resources to those in need. We never forget.

And we move on with life. We do not let evil believe it has taken our will and our desire for freedom. We stand together. And we speak out like elite American runner Patrick Rizzo did, who when asked if he was worried about running in the London Marathon a few weeks after Boston, had this to say…

“It didn’t deter me one bit…In those sorts of situations, whether it’s an act of domestic or foreign terrorism, the idea behind that is to alter your lifestyle and tap into submission. They picked the most stubborn group of people possible [runners] to try to do that to. We put ourselves in pain for pleasure.” (ESPN – “London Shows Solidarity With Boston”)

We will keep running. We will move forward more resolute than ever before.

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