BY: BYRON MOORE, CFP®
posted May 7, 2018
Question: I am discouraged. I believe I am doing the best I can with my career and my money, but it never seems to be enough. I admit I’m my own worst critic, but I see all my peers seeming to drive bigger cars and live in nicer houses. They are clearly doing better than I am. I know it shouldn’t matter, but do you think I’ll ever be able to catch up with them?
Answer: You will never catch up because you were never meant to.
You aren’t chasing your friends. You’re chasing a phantom that lives at the edge of the horizon and moves farther away the closer you get.
Financial success isn’t a contest. There doesn’t need to be a list of winners and losers. But you are making it that in your own head by comparing yourself and all your perceived financial imperfections with an all-star team of every financially positive thing you can think of in all your friends.
Financial success is a journey, not a contest.
Contests have a limited number of potential winners and an unlimited number of losers.
Journeys have an unlimited number of potential finishers. Some finish faster, some slower. But anyone can finish, so long as they don’t quit.
You can improve your chances of finishing the journey (as well as enjoying it more along the way) by doing the following:
Plan it. I suppose you could complete a journey by simply wandering around. But you sure do improve your odds if you employ the simple tools of a map and a compass. The map gives you the general lay of the land and a compass help you know which way to go.
Plod. I love that word. It implies slow, relentless forward motion with no need for speed. As long as things are moving in the right direction, no matter how slowly, things are doing well. The only sin is to stop.
William Carey served as a missionary to India around 1800. His story is one of amazing, relentless plodding. He spent 17 years translating the Bible into 10 different languages utilized by the people of India. One night, a fire in his print shop burned up his 17 years of work in a merciless blaze. Seventeen years of work up in smoke.
So, what did he do in the face of such a setback? Plod.
He said, “It’s easier to walk a road the second time,” and simply started the process all over again. By the end of his life, the Bible had been translated in whole or in part into over forty languages spoken by the Indian people.
Plodding yields results. Just don’t stop.
Participate with others. Plodding forward can be a lonely journey at times, so it’s good to find others who want to do the same. Finding a financial advisor with whom you are compatible can help, along with one or two friends who are with you on the journey and will encourage you to hang in there when you’re tempted to throw in the towel.
Party and play along the way. The point of all this purposeful plodding is to use money as a power tool to design and build the life of your dreams. And that life should involve some celebration. No, I’m not giving you permission to run up a big credit card bill on an irresponsible getaway weekend (unless of course you can afford it). I am saying be as intentional about planning and practicing celebration in your life as you are about working.
Persist. Don’t stop. Plan a direction, plod along in that direction and simply never stop until you get where you are going. Just like the fire in Carey’s print shop, you may be stopped, but determine now that all the setbacks will be temporary.
Comparison is a curse, but a journey can bring joy.
If you’ll understand your financial life as a journey not a contest, you just might find your fretting decreasing and your joy increasing.
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