He has a clear vision for his business and is driven to build it by doing whatever it takes to make it happen. He is the epitome of the American entrepreneur.
Larry is also miserable.
Rather than finding his joy in the doing, the creating of his life, he imagines it comes at the finish line. And so he races the ticking clock to his mortality, like an episode of 60 Minutes. Will the hour expire before his story is fully told?
What difference does it make? Because if there’s no joy in the doing, there certainly won’t be joy when you’re done (if in fact you are EVER done).
Your magic, satisfaction and happiness must come from the joy of doing, regardless of the target in mind. Will you feel joy munching on celery trying to eliminate those extra pounds? Of course not. So if your goal is to feel healthy and look better, find a path that enables joy without Twinkies. There are plenty of options beyond celery sticks.
The same goes for your money.
If your dream is to get out of debt or build your savings, each payment—regardless of the amount—needs to be celebrated since it’s moving you in the right direction. Your mindset creates your reality. If you are focused on the regret of too much debt, rather than the pathway to financial freedom, then each payment becomes a bile-filled slice of sadness and frustration.
The New Year is your opportunity to shift your current reality to a new one. One you can get excited about. Your financial life is a good place start because it’s actually easy to track.
Let’s think about January 1 as your fresh start with your money. It all begins with knowing your numbers.
- What is your net worth (your assets minus your debts)? What do you want to see happen during the next 12 months in areas that you can control? (For example, don’t say you want your investments to go up 30% because you know darn well you can’t count on the market in any given timeframe).
- What is your cash flow (what comes in and where does your money go?) What are your fixed expenses (mortgage, taxes, insurance, etc.) vs. your discretionary spending (entertainment, vacations, clothing, etc.)? What can you control and what can you not control?
- If you don’t have one, adopt a system of tracking. This is important for you to anchor your efforts and see your results quickly. There are many systems in the market, from Mint.com to Quicken and others. Check out which one gives you the easiest access to watch your numbers.
- If setting reasonable and attainable targets is beyond your comfort zone, get some help. Your CPA or a Fee-only Financial Planner can help.
- Understand the variables. The best-laid plans sometimes go awry because of unforeseen situations. Think about what might cause you to deviate from your objective so you can be prepared. As the saying goes, “stuff” happens!
- Every step forward is a leap. If you’re used to actions that create chaos, then anything, that is positive—no matter how small—is a leap forward and is worth acknowledging and celebrating.
This New Year, incorporate some joy into your vision for the future. Be sure to include its close special friend self-forgiveness (for any perceived imperfection).
Because without joy and appreciation for your efforts, your actions become mechanical, maniacal and ultimately meaningless.
So forget the resolutions and just make it happen. Here’s wishing you a joy-filled, meaning-packed New Year!