Oh my God, you guys. I can’t take it anymore.
Over the past few months, I’ve desperately tried to limit my time on Facebook. I peruse photos of friends and family, I read humorous memes, and I occasionally interact with some of you on our website’s Facebook pages. You know, the positive stuff. I’ve done a pretty good job of sticking to the plan and have to admit that my mood has improved immensely.
Unfortunately, I fell off the wagon.
During our lunch break a few days ago, Holly alerted me to a ridiculous Facebook conversation involving several mutual friends. I won’t get into the nitty gritty, but essentially the discussion came down to blaming “rich people” for the bad financial decisions of others. One comment even suggested that paying bills on time and living within one’s means reeked of privilege. They said this allowed “rich” people to “game the system.”
WTF?!? Could this seemingly intelligent person actually be serious? I nearly lost my mind.
I immediately jumped on my smartphone, primed to engage in a linguistic fight to the death. Recognizing the arguments in front of me as nonsense, I furiously began typing out a rebuttal. Luckily, before I could hit send, I took a deep breath and regained my composure.
I quickly deleted what I’d typed, let others do the talking, and removed myself from the fight…
…but, that doesn’t mean I should stay silent here.
Whose Fault is It?
For me, the entire episode speaks to a larger problem – the inability to take responsibility and/or exert self-control. To be clear, there are plenty of situations in which wealthy people (or corporations) take advantage of the less fortunate. Overspending and not paying your bills ain’t one of them.
Rationalizing our financial failures is easy to do. Heck, we all do it from time to time. It’s a coping mechanism that makes us feel better (if only for a few minutes), protecting us from some harsh realities that can really mess with our psyches. But does holding on to these falsehoods actually help us improve our financial lot?
No. Of course it doesn’t.
Ignoring the root causes of our failures can be disastrous. We’re not just refusing to confront the reality of our situation; we’re making it worse by refusing to do anything about it. It’s a vicious cycle leading to more failure, more rationalizing, and more problems.
Sound familiar? Do you want to do something about it? Here are a few things you can do to dump the “excuses mindset” and get back on track.
5 Ways to Reassert Control Over Your Money
Don’t Search for Excuses – It’s important to understand what went wrong so you can make adjustments. With that said, be careful not to use your findings as a justification for excuses. Friends, family members, and money coaches should also take care not to validate attempts at rationalization. When a legitimate wrong is being done to others, by all means, speak up. If not, stop promoting and endorsing these false justifications. Excuses don’t help anybody improve their situation. They only reinforce a harmful tendency toward avoiding responsibility for our own decisions.
Make the Best of Things – One of my favorite quotes is from legendary basketball coach John Wooden. He said, “Things work out best for those who make the best of how things work out.” He’s right. We’ve all got issues and problems to deal with, and sometimes we’re dealt a downright shitty hand. If you’re one of those people, I’m truly sorry for the situation you’re in right now. You can do this, but it won’t happen by feeling bad about what has already been. Take whatever situation you’re in, and start doing what you can to move toward the best possible outcome. I promise, you’ll be far better off than if you hadn’t.
Seize Control – If I can teach my daughters one thing, it would be this: You are in control of your destiny. Once you realize that you have the power to control your situation, you’re focus shifts. You’ll stop wondering how you can get more from others (like your boss or the government) and start focusing on making the best decisions with the options in front of you.
Stop Torturing Yourself – If you’re struggling with money mistakes, stop beating yourself up over it. Nothing good happens from wallowing in your sorrow. On the other hand, if you’re doing well financially, stop beating yourself up over it. You don’t have to feel guilty about making good decisions or for creating success. Guilt tends to promote excuses, and it stunts the next step – taking action.
Take Action – This may be the scariest tip of all: The only way to improve your financial situation is to take action. Excuses won’t help. Rationalizing won’t help. Only action can improve your situation. Discover what you’re doing wrong, create a monthly financial plan, and act on it. By taking action, any positive action at all, you’ll be far better off than you were by avoiding the problem.
Look, maybe you’re not there yet… and I get it. Whether it is or it isn’t, saying “It’s not my fault” is often our go-to defense against hard feelings that we don’t want to face. But, in the end, laying blame doesn’t help your situation one bit. Getting stuck in the blame game only stops you from moving forward.
Unfortunately, many people never move past it. Don’t be one of them. Stop making excuses, stop blaming others, and start taking control.
Once you understand that improving your financial situation is almost entirely under your control, you’ll never look at money the same way again. Sure, everybody’s results will vary and success means different things to different people. But the only way to improve where you’re at is to drop the excuses and start making progress. When you do that, you’ll always end up in a better position than you were before.
You can do this. Good luck.
What do you think? Let me hear it in the comments below!