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How to back-up your life

How to back-up your life

Too often people go through life with a tunnel vision approach of how they plan to go about their daily activities, long term goals and work related endeavors. Any well thought-out strategy is successful because the planners know that “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry”.

Life is always tossing in the monkey wrench. You should never assume that what you plan today will work for you tomorrow. We see examples of these alternative plans everywhere, yet most of the time they go unnoticed. What does this say about our priorities? By putting some focus on the areas we have neglected to plan for, we can get a better understanding of where our life priorities really stand and where they really should be.

Why is having a Plan B a vital part of success? Not only do back-up plans keep you calm in times of duress, but they also offer two important attributes that should always be accounted for before planning anything in life: flexibility and adaptability.

Flexibility allows you to change plans without notice which means you can adapt to any situation that arises to achieve your intended goals. There are areas in life where you should always have a back-up plan. We know one thing for sure: that change is constant. You have to be able to handle change whether good or bad. Here are some suggestions in areas that may need attention.

Your Career

-Always back-up your career. This is something to consider now when the economy seems to be headed into dire straits. I know too many people who have been laid off and have no idea what to do if they don’t find another job in their field. Always find something you can do in lieu of your dream job.

-Update your resume often. Whenever you finish a big project, switch jobs or get a new title, it is important to update your resume right away. Not only will it save you time later when you need it, but it is always good to have it updated for spur of the moment career opportunities. I have seen people lose promotions because their resume was not ready to go and they took too much time to update it.

-Save, Save, Save. Financial planners recommend that you have at the very least two months pay saved up. If you get laid off or worse, fired, there is no guarantee of a severance package. If a medical condition befalls you and you need to take an extended leave of absence, this is a security blanket that will see you through to your recovery. Even if you cannot seem to save that much, save something or meet with a planner who will help determine the plan best for you based on your current salary that will stick.

Your Finances

-Always have a retirement plan. If you are at least 30 years of age and have not opened a savings account, 401K or Roth IRA, do it now! This is especially important for those earning a living in the blue collar or hospitality industry with companies that do not offer you benefits for retirement. Retirement may seem like a long way off, but by opening an account is a step in the right direction towards ensuring your stability later on in life.

-Plan for divorce. It is not a pretty phrase to read, but let’s face it, more than half of all marriages end in divorce. Of course we all tell ourselves that we will be the exception, but it is still a financially independent and intelligent thing to keep in mind, especially for women, so that we have financial security should the marriage fall apart. It is as simple as starting a separate savings account. You can find amazing deals right now if you do it online with interest rates up to 4.75%! That is as good as a CD and you can keep adding to it for the life of the account.

-Plan to be widowed. The last thing you need when something so horrible happens is to have to worry about finances. Whether you are 20 or 60, you should have a living will. If you need a good reason why, let’s remember Terri Schiavo. She was only 25 and the absence of a living will kept her in a vegetative state for more than a decade. You and your partner should have life insurance policies with the other being named as the beneficiary.

Also, any retirement plan should also have the spouse’s name on it in the event of a tragedy. Each of you should also have your own credit card. Too often I see spouses just added on as users to the credit cards without realizing that they are just authorized users and not actual account holders. It is important to build your own credit and not just rely on your spouse’s.

-Always insure valuable items. The engagement ring you bought your wife, the family heirlooms your mother gave you, antiques of value in your house, etc. It is important to inventory your items of importance in case of a natural disaster, fire or robbery. Get them appraised first before insuring. You might also want to take photos of the items and put them somewhere safe.

Your Personal Records

-Always back up important records. Plan a day each month to back up your files on your personal PC, laptop and work computer. I recommend an external hard drive. What size you will need depends on what kind of files you work with each day. External drives have come down in price and are much easier to use and less time consuming than CD burning. Instead of amassing a bunch of CD’s, you can just update files on the external hard drive.

This also means scanning in and saving important documents such as birth certificates, any financial records such as taxes and of course, work files! In case of a fire or computer crash, you will still have this valuable information. Your birth certificate can be certified by a notary public without having to go through vital statistics from the state you were born. You may also want to look into a safety deposit box for heirlooms and important records. Not only will these items be insured, but they will be safer than in your personal possession.

Back-up plans should not only be applied to business projects, educational goals, but everywhere in the real world: dealing with children, spouses and social environments. It is important to pay attention and start planning the alternatives so you are not left in the dust unable to adapt because you failed to develop a Plan B. Lack of planning robs you of your flexibility because unfortunately, failure is always an option and if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. You may never use your back-up plans, but like the flood insurance you purchased, it’s always nice to know you have it.

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How to back-up your life

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Making backups is boring, but the alternative—losing your data—is a kind of exciting no one wants. I once lost 80 pages of a novel to a bad hard drive. I had no backups. While most of the world is thankful to have been spared those 80 pages, who knows, if that hard drive had lived, I might be sipping a mai tai on a Maine beach with Stephen King right now. Socially distanced, of course.

Nowadays I back up my data at least three times, in three physically separate places. I know what you’re thinking—wow, he is really bummed about missing out on that mai tai. It may sound excessive, but it costs next to nothing and happens without me lifting a finger, so why not?

If the perfect backup existed, then sure, three would be overkill, but there is no perfect backup. Things go wrong with backups too. You need to hedge your bets. At the very least you should have two backups, one local and one remote. For most people this strikes the best balance between safety, cost, and effort.

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The first backup is the simplest—buy an external hard drive and regularly copy your data to it.

The hardest thing about this backup is figuring out which hard drive to buy. Backblaze, a backup company that currently stores over 1 exabyte of data, and therefore has considerable experience with hard drives, periodically publishes its drive statistics, which have some helpful numbers to consider.

Unfortunately, what really jumps out of that data is that longevity varies more by model than by manufacturer. That said, I suggest sticking with known names like Seagate, Western Digital, and Hitachi. But some drives are better than others even within those well-known brands.

Several of us here on the Gear team have had good luck with Western Digital hard drives. I like this 4-terabyte model ($99 at Amazon, $120 at Best Buy), which will back up this very article later tonight (it’s backed up to the cloud as I type, more on that in minute).

If you don’t mind a larger form factor, there’s a Western Digital 6-terabyte “desktop” version that’s only about $20 more ($122 at Amazon, $125 at NewEgg).

One nice thing about buying a drive for backing up your data is that you don’t need to worry about drive speed. Even a slow 5,400-rpm drive is fine. These slower drives are cheaper, and since the backup software runs in the background, you probably won’t notice the slower speed.

Get the largest backup drive you can afford. Incremental backups—which is how all good backup software works—save disk space by backing up only the files that have changed since the last backup. But even so, you need a larger drive for backups than whatever is in your PC. A good rule of thumb is to get a backup drive that’s two, or even three, times the size of the drive in your computer.

A good backup system runs without you needing to do a thing. If you have to make a backup, you probably won’t. These days there is software that can automate all of your backup tasks.

Mac users should use Time Machine. It’s a wonderfully simple piece of software and possibly the best reason to buy a Mac. Apple has good instructions on how to set up Time Machine so it will make daily backups to your external hard drive. Time Machine is smart too; it will only back up files that have changed, so it won’t eat up all your disk space.

Windows 10 ships with what Microsoft calls “Backup,” but it lacks the interface polish of Time Machine, and it really doesn’t seem intended for daily backups. While many of the features of Time Machine are in Backup, figuring them out isn’t for the faint of heart. To get a Time Machine-level of simplicity in Windows, you’ll need to turn to third-party software. I’ve had good luck with Macrium Reflect, which has a free option that does most of what you need.

The second backup I suggest is off-site. In “the cloud” as marketing departments call it—which is just another way of saying “on someone else’s computer.” In this case, I mean a server in a data center far from your home. This is a backup that covers that awful scenario of physical destruction. For example, I once lost a laptop to a lightning strike (yes I had a surge protector, it pretty much liquefied), but since my data was backed up to the cloud, I was able to get everything back.

What you don’t want is something like Dropbox, Google Drive, or Sync.com. Those are all great ways to share and sync documents, but they aren’t good for backups. When you change a file on your computer, those changes are then synced to Dropbox. That means if a file becomes corrupted, the corruption is then sent to Dropbox and cascades through all your backups. That’s not what you want. A good backup never changes, you copy the file and then it’s never touched again.

Fortunately there are plenty of cloud backup solutions available. Some are all-in-one, you sign up, download the service’s app, and you’re done. This is what we suggest for newcomers.

After testing a dozen backup services like this, I found Backblaze offers the best all-in-one backup—a good combination of features, price, and reliability. For $60 a year you can get unlimited storage for one machine. If you don’t want to pay the $60 upfront, you can pay $6 a month. Backblaze works on both Windows and macOS, and the default settings will do a good job of backing up your data.

Backblaze retains each version of your file for 30 days, though you can up that if you pay a little more.

How to back-up your life

How We Help

What does Back Up Your Life® help me do that I can’t do by working with an attorney or an insurance person?

While attorneys, insurance professionals, and other people who help you make contingency plans and document your important things are amazing, they don’t have the visibility or expertise to see your complete big picture and how all the pieces add up in your life. That’s exactly what we do.

Using our proven roadmaps and customized action plans, we partner with you to help you identify what’s most important to you and get it documented, stored, shared with the people that matter most. Your trusted advisors have their specialities and we coordinate our work with them. Our value comes in helping bring everything together, and ensure that all the things you “should” do are “done”.

What kinds of things do you cover?

Here are some of the questions we help you answer and make happen, through our customized action plans and support:

Have you made sure beneficiaries exist for all of your banking and retirement accounts?

Do you have a plan for your social media accounts?

How many automatic payments/debits do you have set up

If you are a small business owner, what happens to your online presence?

Have you outlined your wishes for your personal belongings? For your pets?

Are there questions within your family on who might receive what?

Are all of your important documents in a place someone can find them?

Who performs regular maintenance on your home?

To learn more about ways that we can support you, schedule a free consultation with us.

I don’t live in Raleigh-Durham. Do you work with clients virtually?

Absolutely! We look forward to helping my Clients, no matter what their location. We will utilize the wonders of technology and have video calls via Zoom so we can meet face to face and screen share so we are both literally on the same page.

I’d love some help to get started, but I’d like to do some of it on my own. Do you offer any plans like that?

We offer varying levels of support for you in our customized action plans. Book a complimentary, 20-minute discovery call with us and we can help you identify the best option for getting guidance and being able to do more of the work on your end.

I’m a business owner. Do you offer services to help me with my business?

We’re help you back up your life AND back up your business! For entrepreneurs, we have customized action plans to help you organize the documents, details and contingency plans of your business and the work you do. Learn more about our support for businesses.

I already have my will sorted out with my lawyer, so do I need a Back Up Your Life® action plan?

First: Congratulations! Less than half (45%) of Americans have a will or related documents.

Second: having your will is only a part of the puzzle. We help you consider the things in your life that a will won’t cover or doesn’t cover – everything from online password storage to knowing what you’d want to grab during a fire.

Can you help me do things that’ll benefit my life now?

Life and legacy planning creates one central place to consolidate your information—about yourself, your home, your pets, etc. It creates a system for you to easily share important information with others, from information about your pet’s vet to ensuring your Medical Proxy has the most recent version of your Advanced Directives, for guidance in case of an accident or sudden illness.

How does the process work?

We start with a conversation so we can best understand what information and systems you have in place, as well as get a sense of your priorities. As we proceed through sections that cover all facets of your life, we will identify your “Action Items”, and create a customized list with each item—fully broken down into steps—to make the whole process less overwhelming and more approachable. Annette gives you tips and guidance to help complete these tasks. And per your preference, we set up additional appointments to make sure that you are moving forward and making steps to complete your organizing goals.

How did you develop this expertise?

Annette, and many others, know the painful results when loved ones don’t plan for end of life. Having your life and legacy planning properly completed means you know your ducks are in a row. You are set up for success, no matter what life might throw your way. You eliminate any guesswork and give friends and family the chance to say: “I’m fulfilling my loved one’s wishes.”

Having all your various account information in one place and easily searchable means that not only will YOU reap the benefit of having a trusted system and knowing where items are, but also those you leave behind will have a much easier time managing your affairs, if you’re ever in a position where you can’t, or once you are gone. These actions are powerful and, our my opinion, the most generous gift you can ever give.

Read Annette’s story and discover what led her to creating Back Up Your Life®.

PRIVACY AND SECURITY OF OUR SERVICES

How private is my information? Do you have a confidentiality policy?

As a professional organizer, and former member of NAPO (National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals), I strictly adhere to their Code of Ethics. Among which includes a strong commitment to confidentiality. We will never share any information with anyone else, without your expressed permission. You can find the complete Code of Ethics HERE. That said, when you sign an agreement for us to work together, you can list individuals (either Advisors, or Family Members/Friends), that we can speak with on specific topics, if that is of interest.

Do I have to use online tools? Do you offer a ‘hard copy’ version of your services?

The short answer: we can. But, we strongly encourage each client to have an online component so that your information is eventually easily sharable with your loved ones and trusted advisors. If the software platform is daunting, we are able—on your behalf—to input the information which we are entrusted with. At the end of the input process, we can present a PDF, as well as a hard copy version, so that they will have all the information they would like at their fingertips. We then follow up annually to see if any updates might be needed—then provide a PDF and hard copy once again.

We help you organize your life’s documents, details, and contingency plans. If you’re ready to be ready, let’s back up your life.

How to back-up your life

Wouldn’t it be amazing if you knew where everything important was and had your plans figured out for whatever craziness life may throw at you next? Let’s finally make it happen. As a new kind of organizing firm, we’ll help you get the considerations of your life documented, stored, and shared with the people that matter most to you.

From passports to passwords.

How to back-up your life

1. Schedule a Free Discovery Call

Book a free consultation with us. We can meet virtually or in-person in Raleigh-Durham, NC.

How to back-up your life

2. Start Your Custom Action Plan

During your consultation, Annette will help you select and get started with the perfect action package to back up your life.

How to back-up your life

3. We Complete Your Plan Together

Follow each step of the custom plan we’ve laid out together, finishing easily with our support, accountability, and encouragement along the way!

How to back-up your life

4. Enjoy Life with Peace of Mind

You’ve got everything from contingency plans, to online password storage, to knowing what you’d grab in a fire. Rest easy, your life is fully backed up!

How to back-up your life

Annette Adamska, Founder – Back Up Your Life®

The work we do began with one of life’s curve balls: a family tragedy that changed my life forever. Here’s my story, what I’ve learned, and why I’m here to back you up.

Watch Our Story

Double-click to watch a short video about what we do at Back Up Your Life™, and why we do it.

How to back-up your life

How to back-up your life

what our clients say.

“I came away feeling empowered, prepared, and like the author of my own future.

You know that one friend who, when you accidentally set dinner on fire, quietly picks up the fire extinguisher, puts the fire out, and then reassures you that you’re doing great?

For me, that’s Annette Adamska and Back Up Your Life. If you want to make sure your future and your legacy are secure but are not sure how to start, give her a shout. I came to Annette with a scattered pile of goals, thoughts, and needs, and she created a conversational table for us to spread everything out and reorganize it. I came away from my meetings with her feeling empowered, prepared, and like the author of my own future.”

You never think losing your files will happen to you until it actually does, and you’re caught without a backup. Backups are extremely easy to keep, so there’s no reason not to have one. Here’s how to set one up.

Whether you accidentally delete a file or lose a bunch of your data to a hard drive crash, regularly backing up your machine is always a good idea. Both Windows and Mac OS X have great built-in backup utilities, so it only takes a few steps to get started. Here’s what you need to do.

Set Up an Automated, Bulletproof File Back Up Solution

More and more, the fragments of your life exist as particles on a disk mounted inside your…

On Windows

  1. Get a backup drive. This can be just about any USB external hard drive, and you can get them at most electronics stores. Try to get one that has twice as much space as your computer, so you have room for multiple backups and so you have room for all the data you might get in the future.
  2. When you first plug it in, Windows will actually ask you if you want to use it as a backup. Tell it that you do. If you don’t get this prompt, you can just go to the Start Menu, type “backup” in the search box, and hit Backup and Restore.
  3. From there, click the “Set Up Backup” button. Pick the external drive you plugged in and hit Next. Windows’ default settings are probably fine, so you can just hit Next and the next screen too.
  4. On the last screen, hit “Save Settings and Run Backup”. Windows will make its first backup of your drive, during which you don’t want to turn off your computer. After that, it’ll make regular backups in the background as you work—you don’t need to deal with it again.

If you ever need to restore a file you lost, you can just go to the Start Menu, type in “backup”, and go back to “Backup and Restore”. You can hit the “Restore My Files” or “Restore Users Files” buttons to get those files back.

On a Mac

  1. Get a backup drive. This can be just about any USB external hard drive, and you can get them at most electronics stores. Try to get one that has twice as much space as your computer, so you have room for multiple backups and so you have room for all the data you might get in the future.
  2. When you plug in your drive, your Mac will ask you if you want to use that drive as a backup disk. Hit “Use as Backup Disk”. If you don’t get this prompt, you can always go to System Preferences > Time Machine to set it as a backup disk, too.
  3. From Time Machine’s preferences, hit “Select Backup Disk” and choose your external drive.
  4. That’s it! OS X will perform its first backup (during which you’ll want to keep your computer on), and from then on it’ll back up in the background with no work required on your part.

If you ever need to restore a file, just click on the Time Machine icon in your menu bar and hit “Enter Time Machine”. From there, you can search through your old backups for the files you lost and restore them to your hard drive.

There is, of course, one downside to this method. While it’ll save you if you accidentally delete a file or have hard drive issues, it won’t save you if, say, you have a fire. For truly bulletproof backup, you’ll want to back up all your data online , so you can get it back wherever you are (and whatever happens to your hardware).

How to back-up your life

“What are your life goals?” is one of those questions that can put people in an uncomfortable position pretty quickly. Most answer this question by laughing it off and responding with something like “eating pizza with no pants on while watching Netflix – that’s what I really want.”

How to back-up your lifeStocPic via Pexels

The thing is, nobody wants to take the time to write down their life goals. People live busy lives, and when they do have the time, they’d rather kick it in front of the TV or lay on the couch playing with their phones.

From personal experience – take the time, it makes a world of difference.

What exactly are life goals? Simply put, they’re the things you would like to accomplish in your life. Life goals are the big things to work for and accomplish such as getting married and having a family, starting your own business, becoming a big-time executive, or traveling the globe. Life goals are essentially everything you want to do in life before passing on. They’re the stuff people remember you by when you are no longer around.

Why are goals so important? Setting goals gives you purpose, and they help you to guide your life. Think of life goals as your North Star. They’ll guide you where you want to go, but it’s still on you to choose the path to get there.

Now that you’ve got a better understanding of what life goals are, let’s talk about how to set and start working towards them.

Setting life goals in 30 minutes or less

Most people already have a decent idea of what they truly want in life, they just haven’t taken the time to write it down. If that’s you, great. If you have no clue what you want, that’s okay too, I’ll walk you through it.

Even if you’ve already gone through a similar exercise as I’m about to describe, try not to brush off the following activity just yet. Maybe it’s been a while and some of your goals have changed. Maybe there’s a few more things you really want that eluded you before. It may be worth it to go through and rework your plan a bit.

1. Brainstorming your life goals

Find a quiet place to sit and work on this section for 5-10 minutes. If you find yourself hitting a roadblock, try getting up and going for a walk, or perhaps taking a shower. Some of my most inspirational thinking has come from my time spent in the shower.

  • Think about everything in your life that is really important to you.
  • Think about the couple of things you’ve really been pondering lately or your biggest struggle in life.
  • There are plenty of areas of your life you can set life goals in: careers, family, friends, other relationships, schooling, spirituality, traveling, fun, charity, money, health, and many more. These are just some to get your brain churning.
  • Write down anything and everything that comes to mind – all of the things you’d like to accomplish and those that sound fun or exhilarating to you.

2. Setting your life goals

The things you come up with during this exercise, by no means, have to be your definitive life goals for the rest of your life. As I said before, people change and so does what’s important to them. Just try to focus on the things that are important to you currently.

  • Look at what you’ve written down from your brainstorming session.
  • Narrow that list down to the things you absolutely couldn’t live without doing – those are your life goals.
  • Next try to clarify each of your goals with a specific target and a clearly defined outcome. You should be able to picture what your life will be like when you achieve the goal.
  • Pat yourself on the back for identifying what’s truly important to you.

3. Building a plan to achieve them

Once your goals are defined, the next step is creating a plan to get there. Many life coaches recommend using the Simpleology system devised by Mark Joyner. It’s called backward planning and is a method used by the US military.

To summarize, think about the last step needed to accomplish just one of your goals. If climbing Mount Everest was on your list, then literally your last footstep onto the summit should be what comes to mind.

Before that, you’ll need to come up with a team to do it with, a conditioning regimen to prepare yourself, travel plans, and much more. Work all the way backwards until you land on the first step that you need to take. It should be something actionable and achievable in the very near-term.

If you’ve done the exercise correctly and wrote everything down along the way, you’ll have a step-by-step plan for exactly what’s needed to accomplish your goal.

The rest is making it happen.

4. Getting after it

Once you’ve planned out each one of your life goals, you may feel slightly intimidated, and that’s okay. After all, these are your life’s biggest accomplishments to-be. The best way to start checking them off your list is to work on them one at a time.

Let me repeat. One at a time.

Choose just one of the things you’d like to accomplish, preferably the one that’s most important to you right now, and put your plan into action. Start adding the steps you drew out in the previous exercise onto your calendar and deciding when you’re going to take each step.

If your goal is something that’s going to take several years to accomplish, what can you do this year to get that much closer?

What can you do in the next few months?

Your goals become a lot less daunting when you focus on the smaller, more accessible steps you need to take to achieve them. Believe me, I feel overwhelmed in the little things I have to do day-to-day. I’m constantly reminding myself to take things just one step at a time. It makes everything manageable.

Once you’ve got all of your preparation done, it’s on you to go after it. Remember to choose just one life goal and focus as much energy as you can into it. If it’s something you truly desire, then motivation shouldn’t be a problem.

Ride that wave of energy and watch yourself accomplish amazing things over the course of the next 5-10 years.

Tom Casano is the founder of Life Coach Spotter. Learn more about setting your life goals and achieving them here.

How to back-up your life

This article may not be a “toe-tapper,” and trust me, it wasn’t particularly exciting to write; however, there is essential information below, so keep reading.

Think you have to be rich to worry about having your bank accounts and documentation in order if something were to happen to you? Think again. You are not immune to the curve balls that life throws at you. The purpose of this article is to help you to think again… now, while you are thinking at all.

Let’s Start With The Basics:

Married or co-habitating? You may want to have a joint bank account to pay all of those household expenses. A joint bank account is also very helpful in the case of death by one of partner, so the other will have access to funds. In most cases, a joint account holder’s rights will supersede what is in a written will. This is called the Right of Survivorship and there is no documentation required in order to specify whether or not the surviving owner has the right to withdraw money upon the death of the other joint owner. Both parties have complete rights to the account.

That being said, you need to be aware of problems that can arise from a joint bank account. Drama can crop up if there is discord, and either party could drain the account. The court will not listen to, “But, he had a girlfriend and I didn’t realize that his new exercise regime was leading him to slip away to wear his new speedo bikini in Brazil.” It is a legal mess to go after the offender.

According to Bankrate, “Account co-owners enjoy the right to spend, give away or transfer funds to other accounts, without the consent or knowledge of the other account holder(s). In many cases, the “wronged” party can get back some of the money, but legal action is required.” Speedo or no speedo.

Safety Deposit Boxes

Essentially, the same joint rules apply with a safety deposit box. If the box is jointly owned, each has rights to go into it at any time, regardless of a death. So, my advice is to avoid a sticky probate and put a trusted spouse or family member on your safety deposit box.

I am not a great proponent of “Do-it-yourself legal work,” but if you are young and short on assets, go for it. There are tons of websites to help you with this that are free, or close to it. The documents will ask you some of the following questions:

  • What are the names of the beneficiaries you want to leave property to? (This can be family, friends, charities, your dog or other loved ones.)
  • Who is the person you want to appoint as the Executor? (That is the person who is legally responsible for your wishes to be carried out. It is a thankless job, refer to my Forbes article, “It’s Easier To Die Than To Be An Executor Of A Will” and check with your chosen person before you bestow this “honor.”)
  • Who will care for your children? (This one is so important; I can’t stress it enough. In fact, I’m going to write a special article about this topic. In some states, if you do not have a will and have not designated a legal guardian, your kids can become a ward of the state until the next of kin is located.)

Nolo.com indicates that you can create a basic will, “…if you are under 50 and don’t expect to leave assets valuable enough to be subject to estate taxes…” That means that if you don’t have a lot of stuff, don’t worry about it. Again, the big thing is for the kids to be provided for and to discuss that with them, before something happens to you.

Financial Power of Attorney

Power of Attorney is a written document that gives someone you choose the right to act in your place. They can execute stock sales, pay bills, handle tax audits, maintain a safe deposit box, etc. The Power of Attorney usually ends when the principal dies or becomes incompetent, which is why I recommend setting up a Durable Power of Attorney. A Durable Power of Attorney will continue after the principal becomes incapacitated. As AARP puts it, (obviously ignoring that a woman can predecease a male), “A power of attorney can give her the peace of mind of knowing that someone she trusts will have the authority to make financial decisions for her when she’s no long capable.”

Durable Power of Attorney (for Healthcare):

This is a legal document where you name a trusted person to oversee your medical care and make health care decisions for you, if you are unable to do so. This person should work with the doctors to make sure that you receive the kind of care you wish to receive.

Rocket Lawyer indicates, “While a Last Will and Testament is often considered the backbone of a complete estate plan, a Living Will is essential in spelling out your end of life decisions. If at any point you’re unable to communicate your wishes… a Living Will allows your family and physicians to rest assured that your own personal choices are being respected.”

I realize how scary it is to think about a situation where you might be unable to care (or think) for yourself, but life happens. Your family will thank you.

Don’t wait for the following words of Henry David Thoreau to ring true, “Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.” Resolve to work on one tip each week until they are in place.

Reinhold Niebuhr said, “Give us the grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, the courage to change the things that should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.” Got it? Do it!

Your stuff in the cloud could disappear at any time. Here is how to download a copy of your data from popular online services.

How to back-up your life

Chuck Grimmett

Jul 16, 2016 · 4 min read

How to back-up your life

Do you use Gmail? WordPress.com? Fitbit? Facebook? How about Twitter? Your account could be shut down and you could lose all of your stuff there at any time.

This Dennis Cooper situation is a good reminder that you need to be prepared to lose anything and everything stored by online services at any time. Mr. Cooper’s art may not be my cup of tea, but I feel for him. Losing 14 years of work is devastating.

If you use free services , you have no reasonable expectation of guaranteed access to that service. Read the Terms of Service closely. Unless you are paying for them, the services don’t owe you a thing. The best approach to controlling your data is to back it up regularly.

Even if you do pay for the service (like Outlook 365 or Dropbox Pro) your safest option is to have a local backup of your data. Again, back it up regularly.

How to back-up your life

After you export this data, back it up. Leave a copy on your computer, then buy an external drive (affiliate link // non-affiliate link) and move a copy to it. I’m a big fan of the 3–2–1 backup strategy and this passes it. Three total copies of your data, two are saved locally (your computer and external drive), and one is in the cloud (on the service).

These services are in alphabetical order. If there is something I didn’t include that I should, leave a comment with a link and I’ll add it to the list! (Last updated July 19, 2016, with suggestions from James Walpole)

  • Apple Mail
  • Bitcoin Wallets — Common apps: Bitcoin Core, Blockchain.info, Copay, Electrum
  • Evernote
  • Facebook — Click “Download a copy of your Facebook data.” at the bottom of the General Account settings page.
  • Fitbit — Limited to a month at a time unless you pay them.
  • Flickr
  • Google Takeout (all Google services, including Gmail, Google Drive, Blogger, Google+, Calendar, Contacts, Hangouts, Wallet, Photos, etc)
  • iCal
  • Instapaper
  • Outlook email, contacts, and calendars
  • Pocket
  • Readability
  • Slack (for a Team Admin only)
  • Toggl — Make a detailed report and click Export to CSV. Can only export 1 year at a time.
  • Trello
  • Tumblr — I haven’t found a great way to export Tumblr posts. They don’t seem to have an export tool. There are scripts on Github if you are a techy, otherwise I suggest using IFTTT to automatically copy new posts to Day One.
  • Twitter — Export option is at the bottom of the Account screen once you log in
  • WordPress.com (Here are instructions for WordPress.org self-hosted blogs)
  • Wunderlist
  • Yahoo (Various Yahoo services like Mail, Contacts, Watch lists, Calendars, etc)

I suggest you back up your online presence at least once a month. More often if it is business-critical like Slack, Trello, Toggl, Wunderlist, etc. Losing your work means losing money.

You can also do automated incremental backups of your social media accounts. I set up IFTTT recipes to automatically back up posts to my Day One journal and Google Drive. You can see the recipes I use here.

Your stuff in the cloud could disappear at any time. Here is how to download a copy of your data from popular online services.

How to back-up your life

Chuck Grimmett

Jul 16, 2016 · 4 min read

How to back-up your life

Do you use Gmail? WordPress.com? Fitbit? Facebook? How about Twitter? Your account could be shut down and you could lose all of your stuff there at any time.

This Dennis Cooper situation is a good reminder that you need to be prepared to lose anything and everything stored by online services at any time. Mr. Cooper’s art may not be my cup of tea, but I feel for him. Losing 14 years of work is devastating.

If you use free services , you have no reasonable expectation of guaranteed access to that service. Read the Terms of Service closely. Unless you are paying for them, the services don’t owe you a thing. The best approach to controlling your data is to back it up regularly.

Even if you do pay for the service (like Outlook 365 or Dropbox Pro) your safest option is to have a local backup of your data. Again, back it up regularly.

How to back-up your life

After you export this data, back it up. Leave a copy on your computer, then buy an external drive (affiliate link // non-affiliate link) and move a copy to it. I’m a big fan of the 3–2–1 backup strategy and this passes it. Three total copies of your data, two are saved locally (your computer and external drive), and one is in the cloud (on the service).

These services are in alphabetical order. If there is something I didn’t include that I should, leave a comment with a link and I’ll add it to the list! (Last updated July 19, 2016, with suggestions from James Walpole)

  • Apple Mail
  • Bitcoin Wallets — Common apps: Bitcoin Core, Blockchain.info, Copay, Electrum
  • Evernote
  • Facebook — Click “Download a copy of your Facebook data.” at the bottom of the General Account settings page.
  • Fitbit — Limited to a month at a time unless you pay them.
  • Flickr
  • Google Takeout (all Google services, including Gmail, Google Drive, Blogger, Google+, Calendar, Contacts, Hangouts, Wallet, Photos, etc)
  • iCal
  • Instapaper
  • Outlook email, contacts, and calendars
  • Pocket
  • Readability
  • Slack (for a Team Admin only)
  • Toggl — Make a detailed report and click Export to CSV. Can only export 1 year at a time.
  • Trello
  • Tumblr — I haven’t found a great way to export Tumblr posts. They don’t seem to have an export tool. There are scripts on Github if you are a techy, otherwise I suggest using IFTTT to automatically copy new posts to Day One.
  • Twitter — Export option is at the bottom of the Account screen once you log in
  • WordPress.com (Here are instructions for WordPress.org self-hosted blogs)
  • Wunderlist
  • Yahoo (Various Yahoo services like Mail, Contacts, Watch lists, Calendars, etc)

I suggest you back up your online presence at least once a month. More often if it is business-critical like Slack, Trello, Toggl, Wunderlist, etc. Losing your work means losing money.

You can also do automated incremental backups of your social media accounts. I set up IFTTT recipes to automatically back up posts to my Day One journal and Google Drive. You can see the recipes I use here.

The ups and downs of life are what make it so valuable. We hit the lows before the highs, and the cycle repeats itself all over again, and most often, it’s without warning. The mayhem that is life is controlled by a clock that is watched by all who operate on a calendar schedule. We’re always waiting for the next big thing to go down, not knowing what the future holds.

It’s at times when we’ve hit the bottom that we’re most anxious for the next moment to be one of salvation to pull us from the sinking sand. Fear not, friends. Even if you feel you’ve hit rock bottom, it is not the end. That’s right — life goes on. Can you believe it? In times of desperation, when you feel like the world is against you, stay in check and get back up on your feet with these reminders.

Don’t pity yourself.

Remember, everything happens for a reason. We are meant to suffer through misfortune before we can reach the high points in life. Battling through the tough times makes you a stronger person, challenging you to rise to the occasion and conquer the bullish*t that gets in your way. If you’re feeling like you’ve finally hit the bottom, don’t pity yourself.

Everyone falls down sometimes. Surprise yourself with your inner strength and bravery. You can do anything if you want it badly enough. Instead of feeling sorry for yourself, take the negative sh*t that’s weighing you down and turn it into motivation. Let the lows bring you higher by developing a thicker skin each time you’re brought down.

Make an everyday to-do list.

Sometimes recovering from whatever it is that has you down is really f*cking hard to do. If you’re feeling so down that it’s hard to get out of bed and get started with your day every morning, make an everyday to-do list. It may sound petty and stupid, but it also might drastically improve your quality of life.

Getting yourself motivated to do anything when your mind is totally consumed with overwhelming negative thoughts can become a challenge to conquer every single day. Instead of focusing on the bad, an everyday to-do list gives you a handful of things to focus on day-in and day-out. Mine looks a little something like this:

1. Maintain a positive mind. Look on the bright side of negative situations.

2. Remove the word “hate” from your vocabulary. Is there anything worth so much negative emotion, anyway?

3. Forget revenge. Feel bad for those who bring you down — karma comes back around.

4. Make someone smile. It’s uplifting to know that you’ve made someone’s day just a little bit better.

5. Look for the good in people. Use their likenesses as motivation to better yourself.

Out with the bad; In with the good.

What is it that’s weighing you down? Is it your own mind, or is it some outside factor? Is it controllable? Many times, the things that have the greatest impact are within our control. If you’ve hit the bottom and there is clearly something you can do about it, what the hell are you waiting for? People will come and go in your life.

If there are bad people making a mess of your life and affecting your happiness, say goodbye. The number one person in life is yourself. If you don’t have happiness, then what do you have? Even if the negative factors aren’t physical people, the negative might be some other controllable situation like your current job or place in life. Make changes; sometimes change is good and should be embraced. If you absolutely dread going to work in the morning, find another job.

Even if your finances take a temporary hit, so be it. Money does not equal happiness. If you’re not happy with where you are in life, figure out where it is you want to be. You must first discover yourself and what you want from this life before you can enjoy it. Dismiss the bad, and embrace all of the good that this world has to offer.

Focus on yourself.

Rather than focusing your attention on the negative sh*t that’s keeping you on the bottom, focus on bettering yourself. If you have a negative mind, you’re going to have a negative life. Worry about getting healthy: mind, body and soul. Start working out if you don’t already. Working out not only improves your bodily health, but it energizes your mind, too.

If you’re feeling good about the way you look, you have a better self-esteem, which leads to a more positive outlook on life. Get a new haircut, go on a date, spend time with your family or go on a weekend vacation. Worry about bouncing back up from the low, rather than the low itself.

Stop waiting; Start doing.

Stop waiting for the next big thing to happen. If you’re living in the past, or looking forward to the future, you’re not living right. Live in the present and embrace all that you have to be grateful for. If nothing else, you’re alive and reading this, and that’s something to be thankful for. Stop looking back, stop looking forward and start working on the present.

You cannot change past mistakes or regrets; you cannot predict or alter what’s going to happen next. You can only make the most out of this moment, so make it a f*cking good one.

Let go.

It’s always darkest before the dawn. I live by this proverb, and it’s a constant reminder that no matter what situation is at hand, there’s always brightness ahead. No matter what you’re going through, it’s not going to last forever, and it’s not going to define who you are, or the life that you are living. Overcoming hardships is just a part of life. Sometimes mourning is necessary, but don’t linger. You have to let go. Let go of whatever is weighing you down, and move on with your life.

Life throws you curves, but you learn to swerve. In the end, you will get out of whatever sh*thole you’re in right now, and you will come out on top. Keep swervin’ friends.