I found that every single successful person I’ve ever spoken to had a turning point and the turning point was where they made a clear, specific, unequivocal decision that they were not going to live like this anymore. Some people make that decision at 15 and some people make it at 50 and most never make it at all.
– Brian Tracy
Winter, to me, seems like the perfect time for some self-improvement. Self-improvement typically involves a lot of “me time” and introspection, which I personally find hard to do in the summer months when everyone is more up for hanging out and getting together (Distractions. Happy and wonderful distractions, but distractions nonetheless). I may perhaps be biting off a little more than I can chew at the moment in terms of things I am trying to work on in my life, but I think that they are all kind of related. I believe in the documentary Food Matters, Charlotte Gerson of the Gerson Institute, says something about how we cannot heal just one part of our bodies. It is not possible to have disease in one part of the system and for the rest to be healthy, therefore, in terms of physical health, we must take a holistic approach. If the body starts working to fix one thing, it cannot help, but heal the rest if you help it and let it.
I think the same philosophy can be extended to life as a whole. When people talk about “prosperity” for example I think that refers to the whole kit and caboodle – finances, physical and mental health, relationships, self-esteem. It’s not that it is impossible to just have one or two of these things crossed off the ol’ “things to do” list, but I think to be truly prosperous you kind of need it all. And sure there will be ebbs and flows, life is life after all, but I think the more healthy we are in all parts of our lives the easier we can handle the ups and downs.
My personal areas of work over the next few months centre around finances and physical health. There are other ambitions I have set for myself but those are the two biggies. The financial stuff is probably the scarier of the two as it will require a lot of work and dedication but I figure in my 30th year of life it is somewhat ridiculous to find myself in my current precarious financial situation so I am having a go at it to try to sort things out. Mostly so that the future me can look back and be thankful. So time to literally pull up my winter boots and get cracking! I apologize in advance to any of my friends for my upcoming hermit/hibernation behavior.
Five things I want to add in terms of getting your financial hoopla all sorted:
1) Face it! Money is kind of scary when you don’t have vaults of gold coins to swim through at your leisure (thanks to James for that Scroodge McDuck reference), therefore it is super easy to avoid it and try to not think about it. But is that going to get you anywhere? Nope. Sit down and write down everything you owe…credit cards, outstanding bills, personal loans, student loans, that $5 you owe to the shoe shine guy at work. Whatever it is, write it down. Have a mini heart attack, maybe cry a little (which is normally what I do) and then get going! Knowing exactly what you are up against will help you make the appropriate strategy so that you don’t find yourself running up a mountain to slay a dragon with a butter knife. Did someone say The Hobbit release is just around the corner? I digress.
2) Get free help if you can! Many workplaces provide EAP (Employee Assistance Programs) which are FREE of charge to most employees. I happen to work for an EAP provider and know for a fact that many employees do not know that they have access to a plethora of free and super valuable services. Financial Counselling is often on this list. Contact your HR and see if this is something available to you. It is confidential and will put you in touch with some sort of financial guru (for at least one session) who can guide you through your options. I used this service through my work a few weeks ago and in the thirty or so minutes I was on the phone with a wonderful lady I gained some knowledge, and also some homework (grumble grumble) for our next chat. If this is not an option there are tons of free community advice services. Just use your mastery of Google to search them out.
3) Don’t be lazy! Put time and effort into researching all things moolah! What does a good personal budget look like? What kinds of things have people done in the past that helped them? Read some success stories to get motivated! Do some reading on all things acronyms – RRSPs, TFSAs, GRQSs, that last one stands for Get Rich Quick Schemes and actually scratch that. Don’t read up on those because, I am sorry to say buttercup, they don’t really exist.
4) Talk to people! I once heard this piece of advice – figure out what you want and talk to someone who has it. Sounds simple and maybe a no-brainer but think about it. How many times have you asked for relationship advice from someone who does not have the relationship you want? Or career advice from the person working the drive through at Tim Horton’s? Just me? Oh ok…moving on. Well you get it, talk to people who know what they are talking about because they a) have the education/expertise or b) have actually achieved what you want! Often these two categories are present in the same person. I call them business/finance/economics majors and they make me oh so jealous. Not only can they navigate the often confusing and complex system of the all mighty dollar, they can and mostly do, totally use that knowledge to achieve all sorts of financial awesomeness. And if you don’t happen to have any friends who fall into these categories mosey over to any bank and ask to talk to someone about financial planning, or see #2. There are lots of free services available for this kind of thing. One piece of advice, don’t sign anything without serious consideration and research. The downfall with the bank approach is that they sometimes come up with a golden solution (often involving loans, lines of credit, etc) which in the long run really may not be best for you.
5) Don’t be embarrassed! Maybe you are someone who started all this stuff a long time ago and is on the right track, in which case congratulations! However, it seems that more and more we are hearing about how Canadians are falling further and further into debt so the plus side of that angle is that you are not alone. Yes, there are people who have their stuff figured out waaaay more than you (see #4 – find these folks and invite them over for a cup of java), but there are also a huge number of people who are just like you or even (gulp!) worse off. Either way, being embarrassed about your situation and therefore ignoring it will not get you ahead. And think of it this way, if you start facing your Dolla’ Dilemmas (patent pending) now and get to a really great place with them (when that gold coin vault is a reality), then maybe you could be of help to someone in the future because by then you will totally be a self-made financial guru and your brain will be full of all sort of wonderful advice and tips.
…how is it that the Postliminary sometimes becomes longer than my actual post?!