This quote (Don’t mistake activity for achievement ) from John Wooden is something I remind my co-workers about often, and it is something to keep in mind when doing financial planning as well. John Wooden was the dean of College Basketball coaches in the U.S. but his simple theories on life live on in so many ways.
Simply because you are monitoring your spending and religiously using Quicken does not mean you are actually Achieving anything (other than time spent looking at numbers). Grouping together a set of activities that are similar, is still not assuring any achievement in that area.
- Download all financial transactions into Quicken
- Keep all of your receipts
- Make sure you know the value of all of your assets (stocks and such)
All you are achieving is information collection, you must act on this information, or have a plan on how you will react to the information to make any kind of impact on things. Mindlessly doing busy work may seem satisfying, but if you have nothing gained from it, why did you do it in first place? Having a plan or at least spending thresholds that you can act upon will make this data collection steps towards a worthwhile goal, but you must do more than just collect data, you must analyze it as well.
A great example of this was pointed out by a coworker, who mentioned that a “guess how many rice kernels are in a jar” contest had been won by someone, who had guessed 5000, and the actual grain of rice count was 5018. So someone during work counted all 5018 rice kernels? Was that a good use of a worker’s time? I guess in terms of the contest, but not in terms of them doing this during work hours.
If you are not sure why you are doing something menial every day task, ask yourself, what am I achieving doing this?
Collect data, however, use tools to analyze it and then act upon the new information you have learned, and you will be achieving more than simple data collection.