I have become overwhelmed with the amount of information and advice coming at me from all angles. I was listening to Rush’s song Limelight and the lyric “…one must put up barriers to keep oneself intact.”
No newspapers piling up on the dining room table haunting me.
No radio advertisements for windows, cars, diet pills or carpeting.
No more letters from high schools trying to attract our middle-school daughter.
Many – dare I say most – people come to me for financial advice because they find themselves terribly overwhelmed and they don’t know where to start, what to do, or who to trust.
In addition, the personal finance media have made most people feel stupid, vain, lazy or worthless. I know no one can ever make you feel any way; the problem is, you may already feel that way and they’re just reminding you.
I (like many people I suspect) strive to achieve; to be better, more efficient, smarter, kinder etc. These are all worthy goals. Except when the striving is really a way of convincing the world (and maybe yourself) that you are – in fact – good enough.
Who determines that you’re good enough? If someone outside of yourself does, prepare for a life of misery and exhaustion (not to mention poverty of both the pocketbook and the spirit).
The people who struggle the most are those who lack focus, priorities and direction. They end up doing what I call “wandering and squandering” (with their precious energy & resources).
There is no shortage of images and information coming at us to make us more self-conscious of our faces, bodies, wealth (or lack thereof), houses, cars, clothing, jobs…The part of us that incessantly compares ourselves with others keeps us miserable. To alleviate the misery – even temporarily – we buy stuff. “Look, I have a flat screen tv and designer clothes, I am successful, I’m good enough!”
Too many people (mostly women) I know have trouble saying “No” to the seemingly endless requests for help, support, information, participation etc.
If you fall into this category, do you want to know why you can’t say “No?”
Because you want people to think good things about you.
You want to be good enough.
If you can’t feel good enough, you’ll keep doing stuff you think is “good enough.”
Yes, yes, I’m sure you also want to be helpful but if you’re helping too many people too much of the time you can end up exhausted and feeling resentful (“I can’t keep up with all of this, I’m not good enough!”).
Want to learn how to say “No” more? Learn to say “Yes” only to the most important relationship(s) in your life; that will give you permission to say “No” confidently to the rest. Someone or something’s going to get the “No” eventually, and you may not get the choose who or what gets it when push comes to shove.
Did you see the 1991 movie “City Slickers?” If not, watch it, you’ll be glad you did. If so, you may recall Jack Palance’s character holding up one finger and telling Billy Crystal’s character that life is about one thing.
Billy Crystal’s character never did find out what that one thing was, but it doesn’t matter. Focusing on one thing – be it a relationship, a faith, a political party, the size of your nose, the promotion your co-worker got that you wanted etc. – tunes out all other things. This can be a good or bad thing.
Those faithful to Judeo-Christian theology will recognize the First Commandment: To love God with all of your heart, mind, body, soul, and strength.
But even those who do not belong to a religious belief system can benefit from focusing all of their energy on what is good.
At some point in your life (and remember, we’re focusing on progress and growth), strive to come to a measure of peace with yourself; to love, forgive, understand and accept yourself. This is a worthy pursuit and also a humbling one because, as you focus more on the good in your life, you naturally have less time and energy to focus on yourself and the parts of your life that you don’t like. You’ll be happier because you’re focusing on being happier.
If you want to manage your money, time and relationships better, know that you are an amazing, wondrous creation.