Today, step up to your financial future (just one step)
Act now — not tomorrow — to secure your financial future, because you are important and your finances are a key component of you. You don’t have to run the race today but at least find your runners.
Life never waits
One thing we know, but sometimes choose to ignore, is that things change on a dime. The day of writing this piece, a colleague’s husband died suddenly of a heart attack. He was 54. As we all gasp with first shock, then sympathy, we feel the emotions roll over us like tidal waves. Inevitably, these emotions lead to a sense of concern — not just for the new widow, but for our own potential losses.
We cannot brush up against someone else’s tragedy without feeling a small tremble of anxiety for ourselves.
“You just never know,” they say. Or, “Puts things into perspective.”
Yes, to both of those sentiments.
But most importantly, the recognition that our time on earth is limited is a good reminder for all of us. It forces us to examine our lives — even momentarily — through the lens of reality. Too often we act as if life is interminable (although I have had days that certainly felt that way when my children were little). We act like we have all the time in the world. We say things like “it will all work out,” or “que sera sera” while averting our eyes to reality.
As a sentiment of Zen Buddhism acceptance, this is lovely. But most likely, it is borne of resignation and inertia.
Are you in financial self-denial?
At the root of these self-deceptions are the ideas that we or what matters to us are just not that important. A situation that is calling for attention can be postponed to the next day for resolution. We leave relationships at loose ends and fail to take situations, or ourselves, seriously.
This is a familiar posture of the many people I work and hang out with. How can you put off learning about your own investments if you matter to you? When will we actually step up and get the job done? Taking back authority and responsibility for our own life at home, at work, spiritually and economically is a task that is ongoing and never ending.
One thing that prevents us from acting is the sense of overwhelm and a perception of how difficult it all seems. There are days and people and situations that are truly big. But it’s okay to just start today by taking one small step forward.
Just take your first financial step
For some, simply locating their financial statements is a good beginning. Or signing up for online access at the bank.
When I used to feel resistance about going for a workout, I would promise myself that all I had to do was get dressed and get to the gym. I would make the next decision after that.
Twice, in my first days back exercising, I simply turned around and went back to the car, and took myself out for dinner. Yet I still felt proud that I had kept my commitment both to workout and to let myself off the hook. This made putting on my gym clothes the next day easier. Knowing I would allow myself an out, and that I would honour my promise to myself, went a long way to establishing self-trust.
Strange. The very small act of copping out actually led to a huge change in my fitness. Instead of self-deprecation and loathing, I laughingly congratulated myself on my fitness regime. The point is your financial journey cannot stay stuck.
You cannot just throw your hands up in defeat and say “I‘ll deal with this later”.
That is a decision. And a poor one.
I am not going to wax on about the number of women who tell me how ashamed they are, or enraged with themselves because they continually deferred the task of taking responsibly for their financial lives.
This is the last area that should be deferred. Your survival depends on it. It is serious and you are worth being taken seriously — by you.