My 49 Beliefs

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5 min read. Personal.

Adam at Lake Blanche Trail

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I read a bunch of blogs. Ever since the days of LiveJournal and Google Reader I’ve loved reading others growth stories, technical takeaways and seeing what knowledge people care to share.

It usually takes a while for me to read enough by someone to feel a deep connection with them and develop an understanding of who they are. Some writers do this far better than others – generally ones who are amazing and tying in their own stories with what they write about (Tanja from Our Next Life comes to mind). When done right, it feels like you’re getting to know someone, learning their story and developing an understanding of whatever the topic is they focus on all at once.This post is a little different. It’s not about my story or my goals. It’s not about what led me to start investing or what led me down the route to retiring early. It’s not any of the many other articles I’ve written in the personal category on this site. Instead, this is an overview of my personal beliefs. This includes religious views, life views, personal mantras and the way I view the world.

I see this as the kind of information you’d take in from reading many many posts by someone, but condensed into a single place. If you don’t feel like you know who I am, or what motivates me after reading this post, I’d love to hear why (no really, I would!). This will also get rather personal – both on the personal sharing and the opinion side. OK, here goes!

Lifestyle & Goals

I believe in the importance of having plans and goals for what you want to achieve.

I believe in the importance of travel – both domestically and abroad – to build empathy, see how others live, and what matters to them.

I believe that flow state, when you’re able to seriously concentrate on something and lose track of time, is amazing and something that should be cultivated and grown.

I believe that consistently tracking progress in just about anything leads to improvement.

I believe the most important thing to earn is time.

I believe the advice to “follow your passion” is awful, and you should instead cultivate a skill. Passion follows proficiency.

Money & Finances

I believe kids should be taught much more about finances before making life-changing decisions like taking out student loans.

I believe the easiest, most time-efficient way to build wealth is to invest in low-fee, diversified, tax-efficient index funds.

I don’t believe real estate is worth the effort (for me personally). I’d rather have less stress and use that time to grow other areas of my life.

I believe in spending money to buy things that will last a long time – even if they cost more than the cheaper alternatives.

I believe if you can lower your taxes (legally) then you should do it and not feel bad.

I believe the gender pay gap is a dangerous trend, and that salaries at more companies should be transparent to avoid it.

I believe Betterment and Wealthfront are great ways to get started investing and are better than doing nothing or investing with an advisor (but still more costly than doing it yourself).

I believe I’ve made a loooot of mistakes investing, but that’s OK.

I believe healthcare should be a basic human need provided by the government.

I believe living in an apartment is fantastic, and have trouble imagining living in a house again.

Religion & Politics

I don’t believe in god.

I believe when religion influences politics and education at the cost of science it’s at an extremely high cost to our future as a human race.

I believe stoicism is an amazing framework for how to think about many difficult things in life.

I believe any policies (or lack of policies) which intentionally harm people, animals or the planet so that people can get rich (when alternatives are possible) are inherently evil.

I believe one of the best barometers of a politician is an ongoing commitment to helping people different from them.

I believe religions should pay taxes on anything they don’t use as a societal good: helping others around the community and the world. Spreading a religion shouldn’t be tax-subsidized.

I believe being a “proud American” (or insert your country here) is less important than being a proud Human/Earthling/Parent/Friend/Spouse/Profession/Dog owner.

I believe in our ability to have control over our body’s without government interference.

I believe we need more non-profit news agencies.I believe Star Trek is better than Star Wars. (This is the right section for this right?)

Education & Learning

I believe in always having side projects to continue learning – even if they end in failure.

I believe the cumulative effects of learning and effort compound in amazing ways.

I don’t believe I need to be a master at anything.

I believe one of the best ways to learn something well is to teach it.

I don’t believe you need to go to college for most programming jobs available today (with boot camps or side projects filling that need).

I believe programming and creating something is one of the most fun things in the world.

I believe college is extremely overpriced and that most people would be better served by a community college or state school than taking out massive student loans.

Family & Relationships

I believe the choice to have no kids is just as valid as the choice to have kids (we’re in the no-kids camp ourselves)

I believe board games with friends are one of the best uses of an evening.

I believe in having time alone to recharge myself after social situations (I’m an INFJ).

I believe dogs should be allowed more places and kids fewer.

I believe people who don’t travel or expose themselves to new ideas in other ways end up close-minded.

I believe one of the best ways to get to know people is to all share stories around the same themes or prompts.

I believe it’s important to have date nights and break out of the usual rhythm in a relationship.

I believe in a discussion/negotiation/argument if you don’t care about others feelings, then your facts don’t matter.

Health & Fitness

I believe all (capable) human beings should be able to perform basic human maintenance on themselves.

I believe that when I exercise I am more productive and happy in all other areas of life.

I believe Hawaiian Pizza is amazing.

I believe CrossFit is awesome.

I believe beaches are overrated. (35 years in Florida may have something to do with that).

I believe I should get 7 hours of sleep, but yet I’ve been going years getting less than 6.

I believe one of the easiest and most fun things to do is to put on an audiobook and go for a multi-hour hike alone.

I believe finding a healthy activity that you enjoy and look forward to is essential for health (and something I wish I found much sooner).

Takeaways

I’ll do my best to keep this list updated and add new things to it when I think of them. Does anything on my list rub you the wrong way?What about you? What are your most identifying beliefs?

  1. I think college is a complete waste of time and money for most people. I wish I had known how to do the following, instead of spending too much time on my GPA. It’s a shame colleges don’t offer much help on these subjects.
    – Dream big and set goals to your potential, not your ability.
    – Switch your mindset from “I can’t” to “How can I?”
    – Don’t give power to those who say you can’t do something or won’t be successful.
    – Study people you admire and how they got where they are.
    – Use rejection and failure as learning opportunities, not reasons to give up.
    – Learn sales skills.
    – Learn how to manage money.
    – Build long-term personal and business relationships.
    – Keep an open mind, even to ideas you disagree with.

    1. These are some really good ones. I especially like the mindset changes from “can’t” to “how can I?”.

      The learn sales skills is an interesting one too. The older I get the more important those seem to be in positions and endeavors I personally run into. What led you to add that one?

  2. I believe when religion influences politics and education at the cost of science it’s at an extremely high cost to our future as a human race. – Love this. And EVERY American should too, its the basis on which the country was “founded” (in quotes becasue it was a legitimate place way before Europeans took it).

    I believe dogs should be allowed more places and kids fewer. | I believe people who don’t travel or expose themselves to new ideas in other ways end up close-minded. – Interesting that you put these next to each other since I see them as contradictory. Kids need to have the experiences too, and starting them younger lets them appreciate things more quickly. I disagree with you on the kids part, but I’m for more dogs more places.

    1. Ohh good point on the kids one. I should switch the wording to be more in line with my intent: “Babys should be allowed in fewer places” (ex: movies, quiet places). Well behaved kids are welcome for sure! I’ll tweak that one.

  3. Hey Adam! Enjoyed the post. Loved your thoughts on goals and health. Obviously some of your beliefs rubbed me the wrong way, but hey, that’s part of life! I’m sure if I put together 49 of my strongly held beliefs, we’d probably never speak again 🙂

    Here’s something I’m genuinely curious about…

    How much of a material impact do you think taxing religious organizations would make?

    I’m actually fine with churches being taxed, especially those who involve themselves in elections / candidates. I just don’t think it would make much difference.

    The average church runs at a 1% operating profit, which is slim enough to maintain non-profit status. Roughly $50 billion is given annually to churches, so at 1% profit and a 21% corporate tax rate, you’re looking at roughly $100 million annually across 340,000 churches. That’s obviously “rough and dirty” math. I imagine the churches bringing in the most revenue would find ways to legally lower their taxes by hiring more staff, running more programs (operating costs) or other forms of “reinvesting” their surplus.

    Thoughts?

    1. This should make for some good conversation! This is an area that I expect that you know far more about from the money side than I do, so I’ll be looking to hear your thoughts on how realistic some of my (likely naive) thoughts on this are.

      > How much of a material impact do you think taxing religious organizations would make?

      That’s a good question, and I honestly don’t know. I think when I see megachurches out there where pastors live in multiple mansions with a fleet of planes – those are the ones that are the ones gaming the system. Or ones that have so much excess money they can “donate” billions to super PAC’s championing a specific political candidate or campaign and would make sense to lose their tax-exempt status.

      One thought (which I’d be curious in your opinion on) for this is to do away with the tax-free status for religion, and broaden what it means to be a non-profit then roll all of those into the same rules. I don’t see many non-profits with fleets of planes (but maybe there are?).

      1. This is interesting. And I’d love to chat sometime more in-depth about this stuff, especially since even though we have different worldviews, we likely agree on quite a bit of this.

        Regarding the churches out there with private jets whose pastors drive bentleys and own multiple mansions… I completely agree with you. It’s bogus.

        Hypothetically, we have a pastor making $600,000 a year, driving a ferrari, living in a $1.2m mansion. You and I would both take issue with this, right? The church would be using tax-exempt funds in a way that isn’t for public good.

        What if that pastor was any other head of a non-profit? Would you feel the same way?

        Personally, I’m fine with non-profits losing their tax exempt status for getting overly involved with politics. However, if if only religious organizations lost their tax status for that, I’d take issue.

        Currently though, there is no reason that religious organizations (as a group) should lose their tax status. I recognize that specific churches should lose their status. If the definition of a non-profit changes in a way that should exclude all religious orgs, then so be it!

        But I would be MORE than happy to see specific churches that I know of lose their non-profit and tax-exempt status.

        1. > What if that pastor was any other head of a non-profit? Would you feel the same way?

          Yes! I would if it were from a non-profit. Anything that’s in the church, charity, or non-profit category shouldn’t be making someone rich. I like the idea that there are financial incentives to help people through these institutes that anyone can use.

          To me, the idea of churches losing their non-profit is more so that it can be replaced by something similar but tied to the good work done their rather than to religion. This would be an entire can of worms to get right and continue to enable those doing great work. It doesn’t help that I’m not an expert in this area (taxes for these groups). The reason for the switch to me is to have the same set of rules and incentives for churches doing great work as non-profits/charities doing great work.

  4. I wonder what you think about this: My husband, who is very idealist, thinks that investing in stocks is bad, even immoral, because we are supporting companies whose sole goal is to make money, often at the expense of humans, the environment, etc. VTSAX invests in oil and gas companies, tobacco companies, weapons producers, etc. Even if you choose a social choice fund, they invest in McDonald’s (certainly not a company that is benefitting the world and arguably hurting it as we look at the obesity epidemic), other fast food chains, Walmart (not known for their fair treatment of employees), etc. So, for years, we didn’t invest or only put money in bond funds (not ideal either). You’ve written: “I believe any policies (or lack of policies) which intentionally harm people, animals or the planet so that people can get rich (when alternatives are possible) are inherently evil.” So how do you reconcile the two? By investing in VTSAX and other companies you are inherently investing in companies that are harming people, animals, and the planet. I don’t mean to come across as attacking you- I’m genuinely curious. This is something we really struggle with. Thanks!

    1. This is a really good question. You are absolutely right in it too – by investing in VTSAX and I absolutely investing in companies that are going against my rule that these companies are inherently evil.

      I’m afraid I don’t have a great answer for it. :/ In a perfect world I’d be able to invest in $VTSAX but then blacklist a few companies from it that I want no part in, but with 3,654 different companies in there that’d be rough.

      My imprecise solution to this has been to not specifically invest in things I don’t believe in (ex: a sector fund for Oil & Gas, a company directly) and then as a consumer vote with my wallet by trying to not buy/use their products.

      It’s not as precise as I’d like, but the other route (as you mentioned) is to not invest at all. I think I’d be far more hurt by that route than the companies that I’d be not investing in.

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