How to save for retirement, manage your time, grow small, channel big ideas, and tackle your resolutions.

Monument Valley, UT (Photo Credit, Nate Zeisler)

Hi everyone,

I’m coming to you on day number 312 of work from my home office. I can’t believe we are approaching the one-year mark since our national shelter-in-place orders became the norm in this country. With March 13th around the corner, I’m thankful that the end is in sight as I see more and more of my friends and family receiving the first dose of the vaccine. Here’s to hoping that the next few months go quickly!

Now, on to the newsletter.

Financial Stability Tip: Now Is The Time To Start Investing For Retirement

Between 2002–2004, I worked as an elementary school music teacher in Norfolk, VA. My starting salary was $31,000 a year. During that time, I paid into the State of Virginia’s retirement system. When I left for my Doctorate, I was able to roll all of that money — about $2,000 — into an investment account through my bank. I haven’t contributed anything above the $2,000, into that account since 2004 and it now sits at just over $12,000. It has doubled 2.5 times in the last 16 years since I left the job. At this rate, that small investment of $2,000 I made at the age of 27 will be close to $50,000 by the time I retire.

Tip: The one thing you can’t get back when it comes to investing is time. The more you invest now, the more the money will work for you over time. Invest a minimum of 15% of the money you make after taxes in a retirement account. The folks over at Mr. Money Mustache wrote a great article to get you thinking about how much you’ll need for retirement.

Related: Understanding the Rule of 72

Work/Life Balance Tip: How To Manage Your Time

My pandemic workflow is a series of peaks and valleys. One day, I’m celebrating the fact that I don’t have a commute and can get down to uninterrupted work quickly. The next, I can’t seem to go five minutes without something distracting me. Some days, I have to work as much on my routine as I do on the task at hand.

Tip: Set short-term goals and attack them throughout the day. Start by taking about five minutes to jot down your most pressing tasks, shut off your phone, and get to work. I find that the first two-hours of my work day are always the most productive so try to reserve that time for your projects instead of meetings. Here’s a great article by Allison Pohle from the Wall Street Journal about productivity at work.

Tips On Finding Meaning: How To Grow Small

The moment I graduated college in 2000, I felt a constant push to accomplish the next thing in my career. That drive enabled me to be in the fortunate position of having a job I love in a beautiful part of the country. That same drive regularly pulls me away from my family and friends. On several occasions, it simply burned me out.

Tip: Instead of always pushing towards the next step in your career that will bring maximum growth, make sure you take some time to downshift so you have time to spend with your family and friends. Author Jeremy Walter from Calibrating Capital wrote this great post with some practical thoughts about ways to grow small.

Field Notes: Big Ideas Start Small

When I meet with artists who have a great idea to serve their community they often jump right to launching a non-profit organization before they prove whether or not the idea will even work. Non-profits can be a great way to build a sustainable organization over time but not at the beginning of your endeavor.

Tip: Start small and test whether your idea works in your community. More importantly, test whether or not you enjoy the work. Too often, musicians get stuck in planning mode without ever actually bringing their idea to life. Here’s my secret to a sustainable arts organization.

The Way Things Work: Your Resolutions Are A Product of Capitalism

It’s January 19th and I’m checking in to see how those New Years Resolutions are going? I’m doing about as well as I expected I would do when I set my resolutions. Ann Helen Patterson over at Culture Study has a theory that the real reason Americans are so infatuated with New Years Resolutions is because we live in a capitalist system. Companies are capitalizing on our endless need for self improvement. If there’s a buck to be made anywhere, it’s on our perceived failings.

Tip: Even though we’re a mere 19 days into the new year, it’s ok to let a resolution or two go. Too often we set goals in the new year that are too lofty and simply not achievable under the given circumstances. Take a moment right now to reevaluate some of those resolutions that fell off and see if you can reignite them by setting affordable, achievable goals.

Things I Loved:

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Nate Zeisler

Nate Zeisler

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My newsletter, 5 Tips For The Unrelenting Creative provides practical, tactical tips for creatives. Subscribe here: https://nathanielzeisler.com/subscribe/