No deep financial insights this month, just some more general lessons I learned from hiking. So to start, just a reminder that there are only 3 months to the end of the year – starting thinking about tax implications of decisions you’ve made this year, and take some steps to make sure your tax return doesn’t have any surprises waiting come spring!
In early September, I had the chance to do some hiking along the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) with a friend of mine. He is through-hiking the entire 2,650 miles from Canada to Mexico, and was kind enough to slow down and let me tag along for a section of Oregon. We met up just north of Crater Lake and hiked up to the rim of the lake for some amazing views and then continued on south, completing about 75 miles. I don’t have any deep investing thoughts from our 4 days of hiking, but I did have two things I wanted to share.
First, having everything that was on your list doesn’t mean you’re properly prepared. In preparation for my hike, I made a list of the gear, food and clothing I needed, and I ensured everything was in my pack when I got on the plane. The problem is that I focused too much on getting the stuff that was on my list, and not on making sure the list was complete. Not on the list: gloves, which would have been nice when it was 45 degrees, raining and windy. Also not on the list: a second warming layer, which I would have been in dire need of if the temperature had dropped another 10 degrees. While I did a lot of research and testing of my food options (dehydrated mashed potatoes, anyone?), I didn’t ask my buddy about what clothing he packed. If I had he would have mentioned both his gloves and his puffy vest, and they would have been added to the list. So remember: don’t give yourself a false sense of security just by making a list – you have to check it twice.
Second, it was amazing to disconnect for a few days – and not just in a my-phone-is-right-over-there-I’m-choosing-not-to-look type of way. Being literally unable to get a signal renders the phone useless, which was quite freeing. It was powerless to command my attention (also the cold killed the battery), and I have to admit that I somewhat relished the feeling. It was sad to not get new cute pictures of our 9-month-old Claire (see below) for a few days, but well worth it – I got to see them all when we got a signal again. It’s extremely difficult to fit into most people’s schedules – I count myself very lucky I was able to do it – but having an enforced period where one is disconnected is great. The important part – which I’m still working on – is capitalizing on the experience when you get back by identifying the useless distractions that we’ve allowed to build up in our daily routines. That isn’t to say that all of the non-productive things I do I my phone are going away (they aren’t), but rather identifying the things we check or get alerts about that used to be fun, but have now become habits or chores.