Over the past three years of travel, speaking and talking about money with numerous people, one thing has become very obvious to me. Many of us don’t know what we want. For those who do know what they want, they are the successful ones. They have a savings account. They have little to zero debt and are working on becoming “retired” by the time they turn 45-50 years old. Whereas, those who don’t have a clue what they want out of life, except winning the lottery, have the problems with debt, over-extended credit and a car on its last leg (or axle) with no idea how they will be able to replace it when it finally gives up the ghost.
Now you may not be that badly off, but I think you know where I’m headed with this. If you wish to be financially successful, you need to know what you want out of life. As Rob Bennett says in his book, “Passion Saving,” “To be middle-class almost by definition means to be on a quest for more meaningful work.” This is so true. Many of us have credit card debt, mortgages, loans and medical bills; how can we possibly dream of living “off grid” in Colorado when we have all that looming over us?
How about giving your dream one more try? Until you nail down what you truly want out of life, all your financial goals will fall by the wayside because you don’t know why you need to be saving money. So, sit down with a piece of paper and a pen and write at the top of it, “What I want most in the world is…” and fill in the blank. What you write may surprise you. Most folks start off with the standard stuff: “a healthy family, a house, no debt, and a better job.” But I want you to work past these things and go deeper. Why? Because I know that you have given up on your real dreams.
At some point in life you gave up on a passionate dream because you didn’t see how it was going to be possible to achieve. Rather than trying to figure out a solution, it was SO much easier to drop it and then try to fill that emotional void with impulse spending and driving the credit card balance up to higher levels. It was easier to deal with the pain of debt repression then the fear of attempting to achieve a dream.
Your dream is possible. I know you may not even remember what it was that drove you so passionately when you were 8-12 years old, but it is usually at about that age when most people stop believing in themselves and their dreams and start walking the path of paycheck-to-paycheck living.
For my husband, it was giving up on getting a history degree because he was told by so many of his friends and family that a young man couldn’t make a decent living with such a career path. Here he is now at 45 finishing up a degree in history and feeling great about finally doing what he has always wanted to do. Studying history and writing books.
For me I gave up on ever getting a doctoral degree. I almost starved myself through the 5-year degree program for a Baccalaureate in Biochemistry. No lie. I had dropped down to a dangerous weight and would not have been able to continue if I had to go an additional semester. Now, here I am at [age omitted because a lady never tells!] and just last month I applied (and was accepted) to a Ph.D. program. Thanks for celebrating with me!
What dreams have you given up on? Are you having problems figuring out how to remember them? Here is a list of things to do to get your memory moving. Answer these questions on a piece of paper.
1-If I had all the money in the world, what would I do with my time?
2-If I could spend my time in any way I wanted, what impact would I make in my community?
3-What have I always wanted to do for myself, but stopped because I was afraid? Don’t let the fear stop you this time. Write this down.
4-If I didn’t have to worry about the opinions of friends, family or spouse, what things would I do?
These questions may seem a bit simplistic, but I have found that when I’m mentally blocked on an emotional topic, it is the simple questions that get my thinking gears rolling. Write your responses down. Don’t just sit there at your computer and stare into space working on your answers. Bring them into our 4-dimensional “real” world and put them on a page.
Once you have figured out your dream, then it is time to put that dream into an action plan. Let your mind wander and consider the financial, educational, and support systems needed to help you achieve it. Here is an example. One of my relatives decided at the ripe age of 57 to go back to school to become a doctor. Yes, a doctor! Her children were all for it, but her friends were the naysayers in this. She frequently heard them say, “But Grace, you’ll be 67 before you’re even done!” Quick as a flash she answered back with, “Yes, but I’ll be 67 anyway.” Grace is my inspiration!
After you have finished writing down your dream, you are going to e-mail me. Okay, maybe you don’t want to e-mail me, but the idea is e-mail it to someone and discuss it with them. Ask for help on how you are supposed to accomplish this dream. The ideas will start to flow. Your mind will start to work on possibilities and potentials. That is when the fun begins. That is when you become financially mature and begin to change your money situation.