In the lives we live we all basically want the same things: happiness, health, and financial security. But with these as targets, many of us miss the mark.
There is often a large gap between what we want and what we are willing to do to accomplish what we want. What is in our heads does not always play out in our actions. And it does no good to think, think, and think without taking action. Thinking without action equals nothing. Thinking and action can bridge the gap between wanting to hit the mark and hitting or at least landing close to the mark.
Accomplishing happiness is directly tied to the attitude we live with. Two people can move through their lives with virtually identical circumstances with one being happy and the other being miserable. Why? Because of the attitude that each chooses to take. But this is another column.
Accomplishing health is based on living life with the discipline to make healthy choices including what one eats and how one exercises.
I will address today accomplishing financial security.
A simple concept that is at the core of obtaining financial security is the law of the harvest. Let’s take two farmers who both set out to grow the same crop. It comes planting time. One works hard sweating in the hot sun to get the seed in the ground. The other decides to stay indoors, be lazy, and not plant his crop. A week later both farms look the same. The immediate visible results are indistinguishable.
Day after day passes with both farms appearing identical. For a period of time, looking in from the outside, we cannot observe any difference between the farm of the ambitious farmer and the farm of the lazy one.
But in time an interesting thing happens. The farmer who planted wakes up one day and sees the harvest of his labor popping up out of the ground all across his land. In time the crop pays dividends for his previous efforts. The fruits of his labor can put food on the table for his family or can put resources back for a future “rainy day.”
The law of the harvest applies across the board in the field of financial security. In most aspects of our lives we don’t have immediate consequences. Action and time result in a bountiful harvest. Action without time or time without action doesn’t result in any harvest at all.
We want life to be fair, but finances don’t follow the law of “fair.” We were each born into this world to a predetermined family, some of whom have more resources than others. We leave the home and look at others who have more and think life is not fair. When this situation arises, how about looking inward rather than outward? This is the way most problems are solved. Doing the best you can with the hand that is dealt you is better than passing judgment on others who have had an easier journey.
When it comes to finances, we often don’t want fair, we want results that favor us. We want to be able to buy a lottery ticket and to have instant wealth.
But even though everyone wants financial security, we often sabotage ourselves. It takes sacrifice, discipline, and time to get from point A to point B.
Where you are today is no accident. It is the cumulative total of many decisions, both big and small. You don’t just wake up one day with a doctorate degree or in a bankruptcy. You don’t just wake up one day with a secure job position or without any retirement. Each of these, good or bad, is the result of a series of previous decisions.
Decisions and time equal results. We are back to the law of the harvest. If you sow your seeds, they will give you a return over time.
So we seek the goal of financial security, but we want it now. We don’t want to pay the price. Why should we? We live in an instant gratification society. Many people even get the “entitlement” attitude, “I am entitled to financial security.”
This is an interesting world we live in. We are happy with what we have until we become aware of what we don’t have. Advertisers love to put in front of us many things we don’t need. They want us to part with our money (or use our credit) to purchase “wants” not “needs.”
Purchases can become emotional and impulsive. The consequences of having to pay off high credit card debts can hang like a cloud over our heads for years. With credit, we can enjoy the “here and now” and consume our way into debt and financial slavery. In the Bible at Proverbs 22:7 we are given the wisdom that the borrower is a servant to the lender. But we don’t care, it is a “me and now” world.
Whether we want to admit it or not, we all have extra. All we really need is food, clothing, and shelter. Everything else is extra. Truth be known, we all have more than we need. That is why we have garage sales. We have belongings that we don’t need.
How you manage your extra money is a reflection of you and who or what controls you. Extra money can go to meals out, movie theaters, extra television channels, Starbucks, and so on. I am not saying money should not be spent on these things, only that a person shouldn’t spend excess and then complain because finances are tight.
So look at your checkbook. Or call up your bank account online. Where is your money going? Matthew 6:21 tells us “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Are you in control of the finances in your life? Are you proactive or reactive? Do you understand the importance between needs and wants or do you impulsively spend now and pay later?
I may have stepped on some toes here, but my challenge to you today is to urge you to move towards financial security.
First, recognize that how you feel about what you have is really up to you. Whether you are happy with what you have or unhappy with what you don’t have, either way you have the same things.
Second, be proactive in your finances repeatedly over time. You will like where you end up. It is up to you to determine if you buy what you want. Make believe you are licking and putting a stamp on every dollar you spend. It is a self-control issue. Repeated wise choices and time will cause you to reap the harvest of your efforts.
Define your financial targets on paper. Then implement the plan with the discipline to get there. It will be worth it in the end.
Just a thought...
Rick Kraft is a motivational speaker, a syndicated columnist, a published author, and an attorney. To submit comments, contributions, or ideas, email firstname.lastname@example.org:email@example.com or write to P.O. Box 850, Roswell, New Mexico, 88202 - 0850.
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