Elbert Hubbard said, “Self-discipline is the ability to make yourself do what you should do, when you should do it, whether you feel like it or not.” We can be good at self-discipline some of the time, most of the time, all the time, or the extreme--not at all. But occasionally, having someone come along and say, “You got this!” is a dose of encouragement we all could use.
At the beginning of a new year, we may be filled with enthusiasm. A whack of giddy-up and go is just what we need but…realistically, some things will drag us down. In the heartland of the Canadian prairies, we become consumed by the extreme cold weather. The frigid temperatures tend to suck our energy as we move about our day. When we pick up a magazine or browse the newsfeed on the Internet, we are reminded of the list of resolutions pushed in our direction to motivate us to take action. Rather than propel us forward, we remain frozen like popsicles. We are immobilized to take any kind of action…but we must. Here’s why. Time does not stand still.
Our granddaughter, Layla, turned ten years old this month. I shared with her my memory of the day she was born. The first time I heard her cry, I knew she was real. With each passing year, I am grateful to have pictures to remind us how quickly time passes. We see the growth in her physical body and the development of her personality and character. But there’s a hidden truth in “the lapse of time”. The truth is screaming: make the most of it; use it wisely; make memories; and above all, don’t waste an opportunity. Now, more than ever, we can stay in touch with Layla even though we are miles apart. Sending her a quick note or a snapshot tells her how much we love her. We have no excuse not to be a part of her life with the advances in technology. Here’s where the importance of time transitions to our financial affairs.
Do the things that matter most. Someone once jokingly complained about their "First World Problems". The Oxford Dictionary defines these consortiums of problems as "A relatively trivial or minor problem or frustration (implying a contrast with serious problems such as those that may be experienced in the developing world)." Most people living in Canada have an array of First World Problems. But if the truth be told, these are inconveniences we have escalated into problems (for example, a slow internet connection). We must sort and sift through our financial affairs to determine a potential hidden First World Real Problem (no wills, powers of attorney, or health care directives).
When we are serious about being disciplined with our finances, we take a hard look at the "Financial Wheel of Life" and make time to address our concerns. My take is we can't drive life on a flat tire. Technically, we drive on a flat when we neglect to take action in specific areas. Thankfully, we don't have to work on all the areas at the same time. If we take small steps in each part of the financial wheel, we will get the job done. These areas are: Financial Management, Asset Management, Retirement Planning, Risk Management, Estate Planning, and Tax Planning. When professional financial planners were asked about their New Year's Resolutions in this Reader's Digest article, their action steps fell into one of these six areas. If it's on their list of resolutions, maybe we should consider following their lead. Just in case, you need help, look outside your sphere for some motivation.
What can be better than devouring a chocolate-dipped ice-cream cone, witnessing a beautiful sunset, or listening to a favorite song? All these are indeed treasures. Most certainly, the greatest treasure (or motivator) comes when you receive the gift of words from someone who believes in you and your abilities. The value in encouragement is priceless. No matter how difficult your tasks appear, they could always be worse, like eating alive frog. Take heart. Take action...because "you got this!"