Your Belief In You

Your belief in you. Believe.


“I can’t do this.”

“I’ve never done this before.”

“Why does it matter. I’ll fail anyways.”

How many times have you or someone else you know say this? Personally, I’ve said this many times throughout my life. It’s always been so challenging because  I’ve passed up on good opportunities due to the lack of self-belief. But why do we think this way?

Growing up, I’ve had to be my own champion. I had to pump myself up before big events, whether it was interviewing for a new job or competing in a grappling tournament. Rarely did I have something nearby to help say, “You can do this. Believe in yourself.” Rather, the opposite and would go something to the effect of, “You could get hurt! Why bother? It’s a waste of time!” I recall those moments, and yes, at times they would be glued to me.

Now much older, I believe more than ever we need to be our own champions in life. We need to tell ourselves that it’s possible, that we have the ability to mold our circumstances, that we have to be intrinsically motivated. We need to fight for what we want.

I remember the first time I stepped into the cage for my MMA debut. It was easily the most nerving and surreal moment of my life. I mean, I was about to step into a cage, in front of 100’s of strangers, with another man who wants to break me. I was ready to face the very real possibility that I could have my arm snapped off or be knocked unconscious.

But I also believed in myself I was ready. And why?

I had spent a near 2 month training camp, sparring week in and week out with the best training partners and having the best coaches around. I knew I prepared the best I could; I was training twice a day, 6 days a week for my fight. I knew in my heart that regardless of the outcome, I put in the hard work and dedication. I believed in myself.

And thankfully, the result was positive.

With all that said, believe in yourself. Believe in you when no one will. We’re our own worst enemies, and more importantly, our own strongest advocates. It’s amazing what humans can achieve when we believe in ourselves. Just remember, time moves by fast and days become months, months become years. Whatever is on our mind that we want to achieve, take the first step.

It could be the best step of your life!

The Grind.

Grind through life’s obstacles

What is the “grind”?

I define the grind as the ability, determination and willingness to push through an obstacle, despite the unnerving challenges ahead.

This can be working hard at your job to finish a project deadline, working through the Nth hour on your small business or even anxiously pummeling your way to complete your last set of push ups.

As a wrestler and lifelong martial artist, I’ve sustained numerous injuries, puked my share of times after practice, and generally felt like giving up.

But I would always recall the “grind”. How could I look at myself and just quit? How could I allow myself to just stop when the going got tough?

 Well, I can’t.

To grind through tough circumstances is what develops character, strength, heart and dedication. Some just don’t want to push past that due to perhaps fear, rejection, anxiety, you name it.

And remember, you can do it. You can grind through the pain.

And remember, when you do, cherish every moment. Because when you take a step back, you can say to yourself, “I did this. On my own”.

Grind through the circumstances. Grind through the challenges and obstacles that lie ahead. You’ll be proud of yourself for having done so.

Being thankful in difficult times

What’s one of the hardest things to do? Being thankful. Especially during difficult times.

It’s something I’ve personally faced many times throughout my life. How does one handle being thankful when so much around you goes wrong? The work situation doesn’t pan to your liking, your friends stop calling, your gaining weight and negative thoughts flushing in and out of your head. I’ve felt like this plenty of times.

And still do.

But I try to remind myself that, in difficult times, there are so many things to be thankful for. I’m thankful to have a wonderful wife who’s stuck by me during very painful moments in my life, times at which many others would have sprinted away from. I have a wonderful sister who isn’t afraid to challenge my thoughts and opinions (thank you!). And regardless of work situations, I’m thankful to those who helped develop my career and provided a thoughtful gesture and/or conversation.

And honestly, it’s what I needed.

I’m reminded everyday that there’s so much to be thankful and grateful for, that no matter how much life throws at you, you have people around that care. Sometimes we say, “it’s nothing personal, walk it off, stop thinking like that”. But sometimes, we need to vent and release steam. Sometimes, it’s just those simple moments that allow us to be happy, even for a moment.

I know I haven’t always done the “right” or “proper” thing, but I try my best to be genuine and humanistic. Who I am is who I am; I don’t cover it up. And this is what I convey myself even during job interviews. I’m a passionate person – I love to help people. I don’t see myself ever stop helping others.

So be thankful. Be thankful during difficult moments. And most of all, be thankful to yourself – you’re doing good. Regardless of the circumstances, we’re there for you. As am I.

Fearing the unknown

So what motivates you?

“What gives your life purpose?” – Les Brown

I first heard this line maybe a month ago while randomly perusing through YouTube. Such a simple line. So simple that I saved the video and now listen to it once a day.

And so I asked myself, what is my purpose? What do I have to fear?

Memory lane and where it started

During my days at UMass Amherst, I vividly recall asking myself where I wanted to be, what I wanted to accomplish, what were my dreams, and, like so many others, how I would make money (I still think about this).

There were many hard days, painful in fact. But the one thing I feared more than anything, more than any broken bone or punch to face I’ve incurred, was failing myself. Giving up, to say it another way.

I remember when I failed an exam. I remember when I lost my wrestling matches. I remember not being accepted to certain colleges. Heck, I remember when. I cheated out of completing my lifting sets!

There’s a silver lining in all of this

But I remember the positive impact from all those experiences as well. I learned I could deal with adversity, that I could own up and face my fears. It wasn’t easy, and I’ll never say that to anyone. But it’s also why I, and all of us, can truly savor those moments. Because we lived to tell about it.

A new day to make a difference

With all that said, I continue to ask myself that very same question to this day. So what is my purpose? What do I have to fear? I know one thing’s for sure – I’ll keep pushing forward to find out!

Why so…budget?

Imagine this scenario.

It’s finally Friday. You’ve long yearned for this day to arrive because it’s been incredibly tiring and demoralizing at work. And you’ve decided you want to hang out with your buddies. You all meet up at the nearest pub to enjoy a few beers and to chow down on a cheeseburger. Then next Friday arrives, rinse and repeat. Then Fridays become Thursday and Fridays. Rinse and repeat.

So very tempting – said everyone, ever!

Now imagine what your wallet or purse looks like after a month of this. After 6 months. Then calculate after a year! Frightening, isn’t it?

Why do I budget?

Like many, I didn’t grow up with an understanding of budgeting and personal finances. I didn’t quite understand the concept of savings and how this eventually could compound, leading to early retirement. And like many others, I figure my job would always be there and be my primary source of income. C’mon, let me eat that burger!

However, as I’ve grown older over the years, I realize now how so very important budgeting and savings is. I’ve worked in corporate finance for the past 8 years supporting both multi-billion conglomerates to billion dollar ecommerce platform companies. In each of these I was in charge of managing millions and billions of dollars worth of budgets including operating expenses, capital expenditures as well as partnering with executives to drive the growth of the companies. It’s this that lead me to understand and build out my own budgets.

So how did I budget for myself? Because I was an excel nerd (love it!), I decided I wanted to build a financial model for myself that would show me my budget in a way I could understand. I also leveraged the way I learned it at my job to build out my template. The data to support my model would be from Mint – I personally love this tool and encourage others to use it.

My Budget Tool

Here are a few of the capabilities I’ve built into my tool below. I look at my budget like I would with managing any business – through a P&L (profit and loss). Here is how I break it down within my household budget (numbers are for demonstration purposes only):

General P&L by Month

One Man Party Budget Budget Snapshot (what I will target for the year with a monthly re-forecast)

One Man Party Budget-Budget Summary

Annual Budget Analysis (review by years)

One Man Party Budget-Annual

Long-Term Financial Budget Analysis (review where my budget could be 10 years down)

One Man Party Budget-LT model

There are many more applications and views within my budget tool, but these are a few that allow me to keep both my finances and goals in check. I don’t want to work forever!

Thoughts over the years

I hadn’t realized till writing this post, but I’ve been managing this budget tool of mine since 2009! I have nearly 8 years of solid financial data; with this, I can and try to make better decisions.

For example, based on my P&L results I knew my internet two-year rate was coming to an end and would spike up to nearly $75! A’int nobody got time for that! So I called the internet company, informed them a competitor is offering a lower price, and just like that, they provided me with a new, lower rate! Simple, easy, and all it took was 5 minutes on the phone!

I hope this post helps you think about your own budget and, with a little bit of effort, you, too, can change your habits and start saving better. When you have the data at your disposal, you no longer guess or wonder – because you know now.

As always, feel free to leave a comment, thought or suggestion. Enjoy the weekend, everyone!

Path to Freedom!

What if you didn’t need to work till 65?

Say what?

We all daydream about those days. You know, the ones where we stare aimlessly with lifeless souls at our computer monitors in desperate hopelessness wishing we were off in some remote island, sipping away on our mai tai’s or any drink for that matter! I know I do. And far too often at that!

So I thought about it for the past few weeks – what can I do to exit this never-ending cycle of work/eat/sleep, only to repeat the damn cycle all over again the next day. FIRE.

So you want to make a fire?

With some smore sandwiches? Sure! But no, not in this particular instance. What I’m referring to is FIRE, i.e., Financial Independence/Retire Early. Really well-known bloggers such as ERE and Mr. Money Mustache run independent blogs that document their journey towards FIRE, and it’s a very simple concept.

Basically, it’s…are you ready? Savings. That’s it, savings. You heard it correctly. Most of us have consumed our lifestyles around personal consumption, including things such as purchasing the latest fashion, buying new electronics, and eating out (mmm…lattes). But this very lifestyle is what is hurting our abilities to save for our retirement, and to for some, living paycheck to paycheck.

I decided I want to avoid this because I’ve made a personal decision and goal to retire early. I want to live life on my own terms, not on others, and in particular not on someone else’s watch. FIRE will help me achieve this very goal!

What next, dude?

Thankfully, ever since I graduated back in 2009 I’ve been keeping track of my budget very closely with the help of mint and my beautiful, sexy budget model. Eh, budget model you say? Yes! I love this thing.

When I graduated from college and entered the workforce, I learned this cool tip in excel called pivot tables. And for those of who work in excel everyday, this is a must-learn function (will save lots of time analyzing data quickly). It was during this period that I built my very first budget model version using mint data. And wow has it gone through many iterations. My wife thinks I’m partially insane due to how much I focus/rebuild/analyze my budget model. But its this very tool that’s allowed me to investigate key variances, overspending, and even fraudulent activity. Without this sexy beast, I’d have no idea what I was saving. Perhaps I’d be living paycheck to paycheck.

Thanks to the budget model, I was able to achieve several things. These include building an emergency fund, maxing my 401k, investing into my taxable accounts and fully paying off my student loans. Without this tool, I can’t imagine how swamped I would have been.

Well, cool brah

Thanks brah! I hope you enjoyed this post as I plan to update this blog with many more future updates. That FIRE goal of mine is very much achievable, and with the latest budget updates for both my wife and I, we’re slowly creeping towards that retirement!

For those who don’t already, start budgeting! I recommend using mint to aggregate the data – it will help categorize expenses and lay out the data in a easy to read format. Then you can leverage it to create pivot tables and savings calculations.

Well, till next time! Chat with you soon!

MMA, training and dieting.

What is MMA?

For those of you who don’t know, MMA stands for mixed martial arts. It’s a mixture of many different martial arts, some of which include boxing, muay thai, wrestling, and brazilian jiu-jitsu to name a few. It’s a brutal sport, yes, but also beautiful and exciting to watch.

How I fell into MMA

For the past four years dating back to the start of 2013, I’ve been training extensively in MMA. It’s a sport I personally love and am passionate about. The first UFC competition I watched on TV was a bout between the bad body Tito Ortiz and Ken Shamrock, where Tito proceeded to lay what was one of the most brutal ground and pound beatings I had ever witnessed (there’s been worse since). I’ve always been fascinated with self-defense, and watching the UFC provided an avenue where I could watch these arts first hand. It was also at this time I realized that traditional martial arts struggled against other forms of arts such as BJJ and wrestling.

My Training

Since 2013, I’ve been training in MMA in a number of different arts including: boxing, muay thai, sanshou, BJJ, judo, and wrestling. I would train upwards of six days a week and twice a day (cardio and conditioning during work lunch). In addition to learning all the different arts, I keep myself healthy by taking vitamins such as a multi, fish oils, protein powder and glutamine. This helps to sustain my body during the intense and rigorous training sessions.

Even after four years, I still love every minute of my training sessions. Despite the few setbacks such as my broken hand and nose (both requiring surgeries), I don’t regret any of it. It was a dream of mine to take up this sport, and I’m glad I did.

I also accomplished my goal of stepping into the cage, something I dreamed of since I watched my first UFC fight. What an amazing moment that was. I did not know what to expect or how the bout would unfold. But one thing was sure – my coaches, training partners and loved ones all helped prepare me for this bout. I felt extremely confident stepping into the cage and knew I had completed the hard part (training camp). Thankfully, the fight lasted a mere 27 seconds with a one hit knockout to my opponent.

I’m still training to this day and cannot see myself stopping. I love every minute of it – the training, the camaraderie with coaches and friends, and the culture and atmosphere of the gym (Redline Fight Sports). I might not fight for the rest of my life, but I do anticipate achieving my black belt in BJJ one day.

Till next time

MMA is a wonderful, beautiful sport and cannot wait to see what’s in store in the coming years. I hope I can continue to live out my dreams and win an amateur title soon as well. I may not compete forever, but one way or another, I’ll be a part of this sport, whether through coaching or opening my own gym. Till next time!