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October 2012 Tip of The Month

Category: General
Exercise Motivation Part 1: Seeing the Big Picture
Even back in the late 1980's studies were showing that the root cause of over 80% of all hospitalizations was stress. Translation: much of our poor health is preventable. Now our lives are even more complicated and we're more sedentary, so that % has gone up. No wonder so many Americans get the annual admonition from their primary care physician to "reduce stress... get regular exercise... improve your diet". For some actionable discussion on staying motivated, read more:

We've had a disproportionately large number of CPA's and doctors as clients, compared to other professions. In asking them about why they have been more motivated than average, we found that they were at vantage points where they could vividly see unacceptable financial and health "pain" coming their way at some time in their future, based on what they could see happening at different stages in the lives of their clients and patients. (Check out CPA Sean Donovan's and Dr. Marlene Murphy-Setzko's testimonials.)

Let's go through a reasonable approximation of the kind of thought process they've used to be so effective in staying motivated. Without getting into the value of quality of life factors like getting a great night's sleep, staying pain free, independent, fully functional, familially and socially connected, still being able to play a round of golf, etc., let's just look at the total financial cost of not reducing stress and the number of people you would adversely affect:

1. Grab a calculator, a piece of paper and a pen.

2. Complete the following sentence. "What would be the total cost for me to ________?" Fill in the blank with something like, "have a heart attack at age 58 and have to stop working", or "need to have a spinal fusion, be out of work for 4 months and get passed over for promotion", or whatever degenerative condition(s) and its resultant that your family health history indicates might be possible in your life without taking better care of yourself or that your physician has been regularly prodding you to do something about.

3. The cost of prescription meds, income losses from having to interrupt or end your work life before you had planned and being placed in a convalescent home prematurely for many of us will add up to millions of dollars. Simply keep in mind that a low end convalescent home runs about $70K per year and a nice one in the range of $250K, (both without extra services) and compute an approximate dollar value for all of these expenses. Ball-parking all of this in under 5 minutes is fine.

4. Next, for those whom you had planned to help finance their education, what would it cost them if you were no longer in a position to do so. Yes, include loan costs for tuition and the ancillary expenses but also consider the finances they will not earn if their education is delayed, happens in a substandard way or doesn't happen at all. A rough approximation is good enough.

5. Now include the "power of example" inheritance that you are passing on to those around you, especially your spouse, children and grandchildren. If good wellness habits are not modeled for them, what will be their cost for developing high blood pressure, type II diabetes, obesity or other preventable degenerative conditions? Again, ball-park it.

6. Do not include losses in compounding interest from pulling money out of your investments to cover expenses when you aren't able to work due to any of the myriad stress based degenerative conditions. It would just be too depressing.

7. Take the dollar values from 3, 4 and 5, total them and enter this value prominently and perpetually in your daily planner. Count up how many other people would be adversely affected were you to not take better care of yourself and put this right next to the dollar value.

Motivated? I'm fired up just writing this. I certainly have more work to do and it's raining outside, but I'm going for a run anyway. Right now. What about you?