Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun

I WillSometimes we can’t get out of our own way, and that has me a little bummed.  But I want to share a story with you, and maybe we can realize it doesn’t have to be this way.  If things seem a little subliminal today, they are.  I have a method to my madness…

We’ve all heard it before.  The Economy.  The economy is this, the economy is that.  And really, what are we talking about?  Money.  Money is tight for most people right now.  Heck, money has been tight for most people as long as I can remember.  I won’t get started on the reasons for that, so for now I’ll just say it is what it is.  Money is tight.

“I can wait for the storm to pass or I can dance in the rain.”

My house is no different.  We have a budget on an Excel spreadsheet that gets referenced weekly.  We plan for meals.  We do our best to run this house like a business.  Revenue in, payables out, capital expenses, etc.  But sometimes life gets in the way and well…Money is tight for everyone.

Which is why I love the internet.  I’m not smart enough to always come up with amazing cost cutting plans myself.  There are seven billion people in the world that might have a suggestion I could use, that I haven’t thought of before.  I research all sorts of articles online for money savings.  Oh and food recipes, but that’s a different story.

“Every cloud has a silver lining.”

So yesterday I came across this article that highlighted a family of four who lives on $14,000 per year.  The mom is a stay-at-home mom, and the dad, an Army veteran, is currently in school full time to get his degree.  They haven’t always made that little each year, but are sacrificing until dad finishes school and gets a job.

This article was great.  Now, to be clear it didn’t really teach me anything I didn’t already know about personal finances.  For some, it might have.  But what I really loved about this article was that it helped show readers that it was possible.  Determination was the central theme, and the family was achieving their goals.

“The difference between the possible and the impossible lies in a person’s determination.”

And then I made the mistake of reading the comment section of the article.  I know, I know…I shouldn’t have done it.  I’ve learned too many times that the comment section is often a pool of muck that drags others in and bogs them down.  THAT is the bad part of the internet.  And yesterday was no exception.  There was a comment that said “Compliments to this very smart family.  Wish I had as much discipline.”

I was appalled, for two reasons.  First I was appalled because that just isn’t positive thinking, and I’m a positive thinker.  Even when I might be down, I’m a positive thinker.  I’m always thinking about how I’m going to succeed or excel or pull through.  And trust me, there have been times when it’s been difficult.  I recently went through a stretch where being positive was the most difficult thing I thought I could possibly do.  And here at home people could see it in my face.  But the words that came out of my mouth (and continue to come out of my mouth) have always been positive.

“Fake it until you make it.”

Because the other thing that really appalled me was the fact that this person made the effort to read the article and then when they commented it was a negative comment about themselves.  That’s some serious effort to not be positive.  Some people will argue that this commenter was simply offering a compliment that the people in the article are disciplined.  And that’s true, this person did offer that compliment.  Which is a positive.  But we’re left with a negative.  And that is the where the truth lies.  The compliment is nice and I’m sure it’s appreciated – but here is the kicker – It’s meaningless to the family of four living on $14,000 a year!

That’s right, I said it.  The compliment is meaningless.  Why?  Because that family is going to work hard to achieve their goals with or without the compliments.  They don’t need affirmation from others that their plan is smart and it works.  The fact that they can raise two little kids and survive (even thrive) on so little money is affirmation in itself.

And why am I being so cold hearted about this?  Because the point is that the family BELIEVES in themselves and has the DISCIPLINE and DETERMINATION to put in the work.  Do you think this mom or dad would be sitting on the internet commenting on articles saying “Wish I had as much discipline”?  Not even close.

“Some people dream of success, while others wake up and work hard at it.”

To have that discipline and achieve those types of results, we have to first start with the mental attitude.  Which means we have to stop making the effort to drag ourselves down at every opportunity.  If we read an uplifting article online (which takes effort) and it makes us feel good (which is why we compliment people) then why ruin it all by kicking ourselves in the end?

Because truthfully, there is nothing special or super-human or otherworldly about a family of four making things work on fourteen grand a year.  It isn’t like they are accomplishing the impossible.  They are simply making decisions that some may be unwilling to make.

“You can do what you have to do, and sometimes you can do it better than you think you can.”

So here is the dirty little secret that is in the back of our minds.  We are unwilling to make the same decisions.  For example, this family doesn’t have cable or satellite television.  They don’t eat out.  They don’t go to movies.  They make and repair their own clothes.  They have one car.  They don’t buy costly junk food at the market.  The list goes on.

And it isn’t that others aren’t capable of that discipline, it’s that they are unwilling.  We simply can’t get out of our own way.  There are seven billion people in the world, and unfortunately not all of them will see that positivity is the essential first step to success.

That’s not going to stop me from being positive.  In fact, that is going to motivate me more to stay the course.  How about you, are you with me?  I’m going to stay positive because I know this family does it and I know where it is taking them.  I will choose to live my life in the light of positivity to achieve my goals.  The sky is the limit for me.  No, wait…Beyond!  I will set my controls for the heart of the sun!

“Positive thoughts yield positive results.”

I have no illusions that it is easy for them.  But they are achieving their goals.  They are saying to themselves “We HAVE the discipline to do this”, and indeed they are getting it done.

I also know this extreme budget plan isn’t long term for them.  They have a long term goal of dad getting a job out of school, making more money.  They may even treat themselves to a luxury once that happens.  The point is they are making sacrifices now so maybe they don’t have to later.

Let me also share this.  They believe they are living a more meaningful life.  I could write (and maybe will, someday) an entire post on less is more.  We all want a meaningful life.  Are we being honest with ourselves that the sacrifices for material things we choose NOT to make are making our lives more meaningful?  I can only answer that question for myself.

A friend of mine recently visited the Ronald Reagan Library, and took this picture to share with me.

Ronald Reagan Reminder

It’s a magnet that is a replica of a plaque that Reagan kept on his desk to remind him that anything was possible.  It was his “Morning Motivation”.  I’m encouraged to see that a President of the United States had a positive reminder on his desk that anything was possible.  This wasn’t an act of a super-human capable of anything without effort.  This was the act of a regular person who was achieving great things through positive thought and determination.  A regular person, like me.

The moral of the story is that it CAN be done.  We first have to believe that.  We have to verbalize it.  Say it to ourselves, say it in the chat rooms and comment sections online.  We have to say it to each other.  We have to stand on the rooftops and scream it out loud.

IT can be done.

IT CAN be done.

IT CAN BE done.


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