Under pressure

Sorry, I’ve been away!

This summer has been a whirlwind of travels, adventures and friends. But with that comes a complete surrender to the idea of having any time for yourself. For the most part I love that constant hussle, but there’s always a point when I am ready to get home, ready to relax and ready to have some consistency.

Our summer tour is almost over, one more festival in Toronto and we head home after touring since May and doing almost 200 shows. It’s my favourite time of the year, even though it leaves me dead tired 🙂

This year when we return we are not exactly headed back to peace and quiet though. We are producing our own circus show with some very good friends of ours from Japan. I have faith that it will be amazing, but planning and organizing a show while on tour is no easy feat!

So here’s to the last festival of summer and the premier of our show in September. CHEERS!

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No one likes to talk about money. Whether it’s how much you make, how much you save or how much is on your credit card balance, it’s a generally avoided topic of conversation. I think that’s my favorite aspect of Ramit Sethi’s book, “I will teach you to be rich” – that he starts the conversation and keeping it interesting enough that you want to keep reading about it.

While most of the book covers things I already knew and had implemented it was 1.) nice to see that and 2.) nice to get a refresher about what is important in personal finances and why. However, the book opens with a question I don’t typically ask myself: what does rich mean to you?

I felt a little silly that I had never stopped to think what being rich would mean to me, and to be honest I’m still working on figuring that out.

My favorite thing about the book though is how much it is about action. After each chapter there is a task list to complete that pertains to all the stuff you just read about. He makes it about as easy as possible to comprehend aspects of your personal finances and then do something to get them in order.  Here some of the aspects of the book that I found the most useful:

BIG WINS

I like that he focused on big wins and the overall picture. This was most evident when he was talking about budgeting. I would bet that most people you stopped and asked would say they stick to some kind of budget

Basically there are two solutions to fix an unbalanced budget: earn more money or spend less. Most budgeting guides or tips always go with spending less money, and spending less money on a small scale that adds up over time. Don’t buy coffee and bring your own lunch to work. Yes these will definitely save you some money, but they take daily, long-term commitment to really make a dent. Ramit offers up some bigger picture ideas that can save you a lot of money in the long run.  Obvious things like eliminating your credit card debt and lowering your card’s APR to working on your credit rating so you qualify for better loans on really big purchases. Qualifying for a lower interest rate for an auto loan or mortgage will save you thousands more dollars than quitting coffee. For some reason drinking less coffee seems like an easier concept to wrap your brain around though, perhaps because it’s a savings you can see.

A large portion of the book focuses on retirement planning, which was also very well laid out even for us self-employed people. Again the major hurdle for most people seems to be just starting. I have to say when I first opened my IRA I had very little idea what I was doing and not even that much money to throw in there. However that was almost a blessing, better to learn with a little money, than to start learning when I am concerned about retirement and throwing big chunks of change in there.  With the help of compounding interest and lots of time, you can’t really argue that starting retirement planning early is a big win.

AUTOMATION

No one likes constantly monitoring personal finances, which is why it’s best to automate them. The more of your money you can set on auto pilot and just review monthly the better. Provided you actually review things when the time comes!  I think as the internet takes over more and more of our lives this is happening naturally in a lot of ways.  When money is automatically transferred from my checking account to my savings account without me having to do anything or see it go, it’s much easier for me to accumulate savings.

MAINTENANCE

The final puzzle piece of personal finance domination is maintenance. Similar to the what I learned throughout, “Getting Things Done” without maintenance everything will eventually fall apart again. The good thing is that once everything is put into motion, maintenance doesn’t take much time out of your life and in fact seems to relax me since I feel on top of my business.

I feel like every topic I am tackling is hitting me over the head with the same lesson. The are no quick fixes or magic pills, there is only consistent effort. So far this is the best method in training, diet and personal finances…are there quick fixes for anything out there ?!? 🙂

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Jet lag giveth and Jet lag taketh away

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I’m usually pretty strict about getting over jet lag as soon as possible.  Combined with my talent for sleeping on any form of transportation, I have hence avoided jet lag since my first trip overseas.

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I can sleep anywhere!

This time coming back from Japan I’m not sure what happened, but I blame movies on planes.  I used to get all sorts of rest or paperwork or reading or even THINKING done on long plane rides.  They were nice unavoidable chucks of time that were largely free from distraction.  Now there are movies and wifi and my oasis of enforced personal time is gone.  Sure I could just not press play… but I always do and it makes it harder for me to want to get any rest.

The flights from Japan to Canada had me getting back home 5 minutes before I left with the time change.  So I arrived home at 4 pm having not slept for the last 25 hours and while I should have done anything I could to stay awake at least until 10… I decided to “just take a little nap”.  Ahh foiled by the old nap routine, it’s almost as classic as, “I’m just going to rest my eyes”.  My nap turned into more of a sleep and I woke up at 11pm, wide awake.  Stayed awake until around 7 am when I finally fell asleep again. This downward cycle continued until I was basically awake at night and sleeping at day also know as still being on Tokyo time.  Throughout the whole time feeling like a walking zombie and getting almost nothing done… and I had so much left to do!  To break the cycle I decided to go cold turkey, stay up all night and the next day to get back on schedule in one foul swoop.  Which gave me about 30 waking hours to kill, and a list a mile long of things I wanted to get done before the ticking clock that January has become runs out.

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In a semi comatose state I managed to complete:

* New website for myself : www.kimberlycraig.com

*New website for Street Circus : www.thestreetcircus.com

* updated resume

*set up linked in

Part of me is proud, and part of me is annoyed that I was able to do all this in a day and yet have been putting it off for over a year.  I’ll stick with proud for now I guess 🙂 With almost a week to spare I only have two things left:

*work goals

*read “getting things done”  (I find it kinda funny that I have been too busy getting things done to read this)

While jet lag rendered me useless for a couple days, it sure made up for it in the end 🙂

January – A Whole New World

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I am about a week into January and what do I have to show for myself?  Actually quite a bit!  I got right to work and started with an outline of everything I would love to accomplish this month in an ideal scenario:

  • new promo video
  • updated and organized resume
  • work goals
  • read “Getting Things Done”
  • new website

I’m not so excited about the actual work, but I like the planning and I like the potential outcome so I’ll just have to trudge along through the middle steps.  I mean there is a reason I haven’t moved on this stuff in, oh three years or so… it’s so time consuming and somewhat boring.  For someone with a lot to do, I sure find a lot of time for:

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I think I may have to ban the internet this month…

I started on the promo right away, but as I was working on it I decided to actually make three separate promos: Aerial, Hula Hoop and an “everything” one.  Because this month’s goals weren’t time consuming enough as it was :/

Actually I decided to make separate ones after asking myself the annoying question, “what am I trying to do with these videos/ what are these videos for”.  To be honest the first time I said that to myself it was while complaining and sounded more like:

“Whhhhhhhhhhhhhhhyyyyyyyyyyyy  do I want to doooooooooooo   ttthhhhhhhhiiiiiiiiiiiissssssssss  :(”

However, it did make me think about what these videos were for.  The clearer the goal/plan for the finished videos is, the easier it is to make choices within said video.  Which cuts to the main point of why I want to update everything, I really want to apply to new circuses.  With that motivation in mind, I trucked along at video editing at a much more productive rate!  Now I have a whole new world of motivation to get me through all this work 🙂

Here’s what I have to show for myself so far, promo 1 of 3:

Goals from New Years Past

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New Years is probably one of my favorite holidays.  It’s definitely my favorite one second holiday.

It’s pretty clear that I love making lists and making goals, and New Years is a celebrated holiday to do just that! This year I decided to look back at past goals to see how far I have come and what other goals have fallen by the wayside. I have lists of New Years goals from about the last 10 years and it was pretty amazing to see how many of those goals have been accomplished one way or another. However there are lots of less interesting, but important goals that have been on there year after year…never getting done. SO this year I’m starting 2013 as the year of achieving forgotten goals and growing up! Turns out the theme of my forgotten goals is clear: they are important but time consuming tasks that don’t involve training or performing circus! I do very well accomplishing goals that are related to circus and training, but not so well at being a preventative, responsible grown up.  Also as 2012 came to an end it became clear that I should plan out the project months a few months in advance. So here is what I hope to do as 2013 begins, the year of achieving forgotten goals, growing up** and being preventative:

January: WORK OVERHAUL – deal with the marketing side of being a circus performer… I have put this off for 3 years now.

February: FINANCES – learn how to manage finances better, methods to keep better records

March: MEDICAL – compile your family medical history, go to the doctor and the dentist :/

The other projects I have in mind I can’t quite put set to a month because it depends on where I am in the world, but they are as follows in no particular order:

  • simplify my closet, pair down belongings
  • keep better contact with friends and family
  • learn more about cleaning and try out different green cleaning methods
  • work my way through a whole cookbook
  • use all the spices in my spice cabinet!
  • Be a girl and learn to use make up
  • play more games (this one is a reward month if I can accomplish all the other ones!)
  • discover winnipeg, be proactive about sightseeing while traveling for work
  • attack my craft box, finish projects…. maybe even get rid of some of them.
  • Learn French

Wait that’s 13 project ideas… clearly I have no problem thinking of monthly projects.  Maybe I’ll just have to stick to a lunar calendar.  I do feel a lot less pressure knowing these goals/ projects will be coming at me one at a time… it makes them feel less overwhelming 🙂

Now I’m getting pretty excited about 2013!

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**Let me explain what I mean by saying grow up. I tend to put things off until the conditions are perfect. I haven’t made a new work promo in three years because I was waiting for perfect footage. Now I am beginning to think that Nike was right all along, I just need to do it.  Growing up to me means living a preventative life and staying on top of my shit because no one is going to do it for me. The more I am managing my life as a responsible adult some of the time, the more fun I can have the rest of the time.

It also means showing up to the page (thanks Julia Cameron!) and Just doing it (thanks Nike!)

GIMP

Why do I want to learn gimp? Because time and time again I need to edit something about a photo and I can’t. Each time I say, “I should really learn the basics of photo editing,” then continue about my merry way until I need another photo edited. Well not anymore.

 

When you’re self-employed you are in charge of everything. Which is fun for the most part, I mean I love being in control of what jobs I do and don’t take, what avenues I pursue. However, you are also the head of marketing, finance, R&D and every other department a business would have, whether you know anything about it or not. I was once asked if my head of HR could send a letter confirming my period of self-employment on the company’s letterhead.

 

I am the head of HR and my letterhead is currently printer paper.

 

Now if I would have known gimp… I could have had some snazzy letterhead 😉 Letterhead aside, I am beginning to see that it is important to improve all aspects of a business, not just the parts you like.