Category Archives: Musings

Blog posts by Peter DeHaan; the musings of Peter DeHaan.

How Much is Enough?

how much is enough

When asked “How much would be enough?”, John D. Rockefeller reportedly answered “just a little bit more.”

That push for more has propelled people to accomplish some amazing things, but left unchecked and unexamined it can leave a wake of devastation—destroying lives, organizations, and resources.

Are there changes you need to make in the way you live or with your attitude towards money? Click To Tweet

When the push for more focuses on wealth, it is never satisfied. Seeking more can become an inescapable snare.

Many people live beyond their means. For them, they desire just a little bit more. They are, in fact, greedy.

A few people live at their means; they spend responsibly, not letting their reach exceed their grasp. But even these people are often one paycheck away from the collapse of their subsistence. They are living on the edge; financial disaster is knocking at their door.

It is rare for people to live beneath their means, to live more simply than they can afford, to save money and give money away. They are wise.

Whichever category we find ourselves in, we’ll do well to ask, how much is enough?

Wordsmith Peter DeHaan is magazine publisher by day and a writer by night. Visit peterdehaan.com to receive his newsletter, read his blog, or connect on social media.

Have a Happy Normal Day

With Christmas and New Years Behind Us, It Is Time to Get Things Back to Normal

normal day

It’s great to have time off from work for the holidays, wonderful to spend time with family, and enjoyable to feast upon holiday foods and delectable deserts. However, it is also good to return to a regular routine—for things to get back to normal.

For as wonderful as the holidays are, I like normal, too. Normal is how I keep disciplined and remain focused; it allows me to get important things done. Normal is how I keep disciplined and remain focused; it allows me to get important things done. Click To Tweet

But the transition from holiday mode to normal mode takes time for me. I think it does for others as well. The days after the holidays did not seem normal and I think many people shared my struggle to return to normal.

However, I think today was nearly normal and I suspect tomorrow will be completely normal. At least I hope so, because I have work to do!

Have a Happy Normal Day!

Wordsmith Peter DeHaan is magazine publisher by day and a writer by night. Visit peterdehaan.com to receive his newsletter, read his blog, or connect on social media.

4 Reasons to Set Goals

Set GoalsIt’s important to set goals, both for our work and for our self.

Goals move us forward: Without goals, it’s easy to drift from day to day, week to week, month to month, and year to year—and nothing really changes. One of my goals is to attend two writing conferences each year. This helps grow me as a writer and meet others in the industry.

Goals give us clarity: Goals reveal what’s important to us. Activities that aren’t relevant to our goals need to be given lower priority or even eliminated. One of my goals is to write every day.

Goals reflect our focus: Without goals we can easily go in four directions at once, never accomplishing anything. Another of my goals is to watch less TV. This gives more time to read, write reviews, and do other things to advance my career as a writer.

Goals facilitate success: I want to publish my books, but that won’t happen just because I wish it. I need to work at it. One critical step is to present my writing to agents and publishers, often in the form of a query.  Submitting a query will not guarantee success, but failing to do so will ensure failure.

Without goals, it's easy to drift from day to day, week to week, month to month, and year to year—and nothing really changes. Click To Tweet

What are some of your goals?

Wordsmith Peter DeHaan is magazine publisher by day and a writer by night. Visit peterdehaan.com to receive his newsletter, read his blog, or connect on social media.

It’s That Time of Year…to Make Your Annual Budget

anuual budgetWith Thanksgiving behind me and Christmas cheer beckoning me forward, it’s hard to think about the new year and the task of making an annual budget. You do have an annual budget, don’t you? I do—and I encourage you to use one, too.

Although I’m an organized person with a penchant for planning, I don’t get too excited at the prospect of making my annual budget. But I know I must. After all, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” (Goodreads attributes this to Benjamin Franklin.) Having a budget is just the first step. The key to success is to follow it. Click To Tweet

I keep good records of my spending throughout the year, so developing next year’s budget only takes me about thirty minutes. For people without a good understanding of where they spent their money, planning for next year will take a bit more work. So invest some time in December to gather needed information to make a budget for the coming year. You’ll need most of this for your taxes anyway, so you need to do it at some point.

Here are some thoughts about budgets:

  • A budget is a guide, not a straightjacket.
  • A budget lets us know when we can indulge ourselves a bit and how much; it also alerts us when extra spending is a bad idea.
  • A budget reduces financial stress and removes a source of potential conflict.
  • A budget urges moderation now, allowing for more freedom later.
  • A budget is a plan that moves us towards financial contentment.
  • A budget helps us to live within our means, to be financially responsible, and to plan for future needs.
  • A budget is also biblical. See Luke 14:28-30.

To be of maximum use, our annual budgets need to be in place before the new year begins. For me, I usually I’ll wait until after Christmas to make my annual budget, and will be finished before New Year’s Day.

Of course having a budget is just the first step. The key to success is to follow it.

May you have a Merry Christmas, A Happy New Year…and a great budget to guide the way.

Wordsmith Peter DeHaan is a magazine publisher by day and a writer by night. Check back each week for updated content, and look for his upcoming book, Woodpecker Wars.

What if the Internet Were Unplugged

What if the Internet Were UnpluggedSeveral years ago, there was a time when I lost my Internet connection. Although I had a lot of work to do, I couldn’t think of anything I could accomplish without Internet access. It was about quarter to twelve, so I took an early lunch.

An hour later it still wasn’t working, so I made the dreaded call to my provider. I greatly dislike doing so because they have an attitude that the problem is my fault. It’s the technological world’s version of “guilty until proven innocence.” After enduring numerous automated prompts and punching in an inordinate number of digits, they preformed an automatic test of my line. They pronounced it good and—coincidently or not—my Internet connection started working shortly thereafter. It was a time to give serious thought to how I would conduct business if I were to lose Internet conductivity for a prolonged period of time. Click To Tweet

That prompted a renewed reminder of just how much I depend on the Internet to work.  It was time to give serious thought to how I would conduct business if I were to lose Internet access for a prolonged period of time.

Although it was easy to quickly dismiss such a worry as highly unlikely, I once read a report that a bill pending in the US Senate would give President Obama,  the power to turn off computer networks in the interest of national security. Yep, that’s right.  An Internet off switch in the White House.

The feeling was that in the event of a cyber attack, no Internet would be preferred to a crippled Internet.  I presumed that the course of action would be to shut the whole thing down, stop or counter the threat, and then bring it back up in a controlled and orderly manner.

That all made sense and seemed like a good course of action—until it actually happens and we can’t work.

Wordsmith Peter DeHaan is a magazine publisher by day and a writer by night. Check back each week for updated content, and look for his upcoming book, Woodpecker Wars.

Do You Need to Find Time to Slow Down?

Do You Need to Find Time to Slow DownRecently I had a birthday. Don’t feel bad if you missed it—I have everything I need and most of what I want—so it’s all good!

For a birthday, it is the time spent with family and friends—be it directly or indirectly—that are the most significant and the best remembered.

I now often say 'no' to good things so that I may have time for the best things. Click To Tweet

Not to be dismissed are the cards from service providers, such as insurance agents and financial advisers. This reminds me, from ten years ago, I was amused and then taken aback by the generic message in one such card that read:

“Wishing you time to slow down and enjoy your special day.”

What does that say about the pace at which we move in today’s society? Is being too busy so common that a wish to slow down has become a universal sentiment? I hope not, but I fear it is so.

Take Time to Slow Down

That’s not to imply that at times I don’t need to slow down, because sometimes I do. Sometimes my workload overwhelms me; sometimes I get frustrated by the commitments I have thoughtlessly made; and sometimes I say, “I’m too busy”—but not too often.

It took awhile, but I’ve learned the freedom of saying “no.” I now often say “no” to good things so that I may have time for the best things. And when I consistently do that, I don’t need to take time to slow down to enjoy the day—I’m already moving at the right pace, which allows me to enjoy just about every day that comes along.

Regardless of the speed of your day, I hope the same for you.

Wordsmith Peter DeHaan is a magazine publisher by day and a writer by night. Check back each week for updated content, and look for his upcoming book, Woodpecker Wars.

How Many Friends Do You Have?

How Many Friends Do You Have_How many friends do you have? For many, a quick answer resides in Facebook. In addition to Facebook friends, some might consider Twitter followers or LinkedIn connections. But for most, the number of online “friends” overstates the situation.

Try removing social media from consideration. For a revised answer, people may count the number of email addresses in their email account or the length of their phone directory in their cell phone. But that still overstates things.

Let’s remove all technology from consideration. How many friends do you actually see face to face on a weekly basis? The number of “friends” is shrinking. But is everyone in this group truly a friend?

For me, my true friends are those I could call for an emergency at 3 AM. It’s a short list. How about you?How many friends do you have? Click To Tweet

Wordsmith Peter DeHaan is a magazine publisher by day and a writer by night. Check back each week for updated content, and look for his upcoming book, Woodpecker Wars.

Login Fatigue

Do you suffer from “login fatigue?” I know I do. Login fatigue is that overwhelmed feeling produced by having too many computer login names, passwords, and codes to keep track of. (A Google search for “login fatigue” resulted in 75,400,000 entries, more than a hundred times higher then when I last checked. I am sure that number will keep growing.)

It’s not that I’m lazy or trying to make a statement about logging in. The sad reality is that I had way too many logins to keep track of.  As a result, I’ve had to resort to maintaining a list of my various cyberspace logins. For the most part, I needed every one of them to conduct business. There are a variety of financial websites, secure access for numerous services, a plethora of logins for my diverse Internet presence (email, Websites, blogs, search engines, and so forth), and even a few—a precious few—for personal enjoyment.Login fatigue is that overwhelmed feeling produced by having too many computer login names, passwords, and codes to keep track of. Click To Tweet

Because of this frustration, I used to regularly close websites that require I login just to peek at their treasure trove of information. I’m not talking about those pay-for, subscription sites—which I steadfastly avoid. I’m referring to those free sites that demand that I setup an account and login with each visit. Nope, it’s not going to happen.

Its been suggested that we need some sort of universal login, one login that will work for multiple sites. That sounded great to me; I needed it. And so when I’ve heard about Last Pass a password manager, generator, and vault, I tried it. This might be the solution we all seek.

Wordsmith Peter DeHaan is a magazine publisher by day and a writer by night. Check back each week for updated content, and look for his upcoming book, Woodpecker Wars.

The Cost of Daylight Savings Time

Did you change your clocks over the weekend? (About 70 countries currently observe Daylight Savings Time, though they may follow a different schedule than in the US.)

As I was adjusting clocks over the weekend, I contemplated the cost of switching to and from Daylight Savings Time—and the amount of time it takes, not saves!

Did you remember to change your clocks over the weekend? Click To Tweet

First, doing some projections based on my personal clock setting experiences, I calculate that in the United States alone, about 150,000 hours is collectively spent adjusting clocks each fall and spring.  For businesses, there is direct labor cost associated with this effort.  In most cases they can address this on Monday morning, however, for some businesses clocks must be adjusted at 2:00 a.m., generally requiring overtime pay as well.

To determine the full cost, however, add in devices that are inadvertently broken while trying to set them and that are then replaced.

Next, consider all the commitments, appointments, and flights that are missed because people show up at the wrong time.  In the fall, it’s not so bad, as you arrive early—and end up waiting.  In the spring it’s a killer, because you arrive too late.

Altogether, this adds up to a huge cost, burden, and time waster—all for the delusion that we are saving time by doing so.

Wordsmith Peter DeHaan is a magazine publisher by day and a writer by night. Check back each week for updated content, and look for his upcoming book, Woodpecker Wars.

Save a Tree

In 2010, on a mailed statement, there was a notice that “for every 13 people who go paperless, one tree can be saved.” Really? What does that mean?

  • 13 people go paperless with this company for one month and one tree will be saved, or
  • 13 people go paperless with this company for one year and one tree will be saved, or
  • 13 people go paperless with this company for as long as they’re a customer and one tree will be saved, or
  • 13 people go paperless with all companies for the rest of their lives and one tree will be saved…

None of these explanations makes sense. The first two would not save much paper, while the last two contain too much variability to be accurately quantified. What does make sense is going paperless when it is sensible to do so.

Going paperless and then printing out the paperless statement gains nothing, so if a hard copy is needed, don’t go paperless. However, many statements can be received electronically, stored electronically, and later on, destroyed electronically. A tree can be planted to replace the one I used, but the time lost in trying to save the tree is gone forever. Click To Tweet

I enjoy receiving invoices as email attachments.  I don’t like the alternative of receiving a notice that a statement is available for me to download.  Although a desirable precaution for banking and investment records, it is a hassle. You need to log into a secure site, enter your login and password, navigate to the right page, and download the statement. To make matters worse, it is inadvisable to click on email links, as they can direct you to a bogus site. It is also inadvisable to use the same login and password for each site, which adds another level of complexity and confusion.

I’m all for saving trees and doing whenever it is practical.  However, when saving a tree is time-consuming and frustration-laden, I’ll pass. After all, a tree can be planted to replace the one I used, but the time lost in trying to save the tree is gone forever.

Wordsmith Peter DeHaan is a magazine publisher by day and a writer by night. Check back each week for updated content, and look for his upcoming book, Woodpecker Wars.