I’m going to do something I rarely do and talk about writing content. First – I love doing it. This is the best outlet I have found and I love the idea of more people discovering the Financial Independence space and giving themselves options. I also appreciate that anyone is willing to read what I have to say (Thank you!). Second – writing meaningful articles that apply to every human on the planet is impossible.
25%? Not a chance
Maybe (big maybe) we have a shot at 5%
A much, much smaller % of those people will see the title flash across their screen in one way or another.
For those that see it, fewer will read it.
And even smaller % will follow through and see the results.
The constant battle for anyone who cares and dedicates time helping others by providing a free platform is How can we get people to care enough to make a meaningful change?
Motivating is hard. What makes it harder is the immediate jump our brains make to “That won’t work for me because your situation is not the exact same as mine”
It’s not about the HOW, It’s about whats POSSIBLE
“How To’s” have their place but…
If you can follow a “How to” article step by step, chances are it won’t drastically change your life
They work great for opening a Roth IRA, Travel Hacking or hammering out a recipe, but they fall down at life-changing events. There are too many unique paths that make a step by step formula impossible. Once you realize there is not a prescription for you to do something amazing – we can move onto doing amazing things.
Some examples from our own path:
“How we save $3,500 a year taking public transportation”
“How we save money on childcare having friends and family watch our kids* “
“How I 2.5X my income in under 7 years”
One of the most common comments I see or hear when I write something like the above is “That won’t work for me”
I can (and have) played that game too, lots of money saving things don’t make sense for us:
We aren’t going to move to a lower cost of living area to save money
I’m not going to trade my car in for a bike (they are for hippies anyway)
Despite my frugal tendencies, you can pull the craft beer from my warm fingers (I use a koozie, highly recommended)
Straight to why it won’t work instead of seeing and appreciating what is possible. Yes, single instances of change may not be possible for you, if every solution worked for everyone we would be a boring species. Definitely wouldn’t need Dave Ramsey or Suze Orman.
Our values differ, they evolve, and they filter out the financial choices that don’t make sense for us. It is 100% ok. What’s not ok is dismissing what you CAN do.
Shifting the Focus to What’s Possible
Some techniques and thoughts on how to make the mental shift:
Positivity Goes a Long Way
I get excited when I see other people’s wins (especially if it is knocking out student loans) even if there is absolutely no way I can achieve them. It hasn’t always been that way though, when we didn’t have our finances under control I would look for their shortcut first.
Who helped them?
Did they get lucky?
Some of them did have help, most worked their ass off and started making better decisions. As soon as I realized they were getting ahead by putting in the work, time, and making decisions others don’t make – we followed.
The simple shift in mindset from “Why not me” to “We can do it” has debunked a lot of things I didn’t think were possible.
Don’t Fixate On the Timelines
The timelines, while impressive, can do more harm then good if you fixate on them.
“I can’t accomplish a, b, c in x number of years”
I feel the same way about “Retire by 30 posts” now that I’m 31 (still waiting on my time machine). I could toss them in the internet dumpster with the MLM mail Mrs. AE gets every other week, but underneath the timeline is useful information that could still work for us or motivate us to do more.
The most common ways I see timelines work against people
Don’t want to wait for success, so they don’t start
Nothing kills motivation like taking away instant gratification (especially for us millennials). When I heard that it would take me 5 years to move into the position I wanted right out of college it was demoralizing. I want it now!
The early wins seem meaningless so they quit
It didn’t feel like we were ever going to max out a 401K when we were increasing our withholding by 1% a quarter a few years ago. Takes a long time to get to $18,500/year making $300 – $500 jumps.
Feeling like you aren’t making a difference is a shortcut to demotivated land. Have to trust the process!
The goal is unrelatable due to outside constraints
This comes up all the time when I take about how we increase our income. It is unreasonable to expect that everyone can mimic what we did (especially down to HOW we did it). Set your own goals and timelines, but don’t discount what is possible.
Pride In Creating Your Own Path
Creating your own path is underrated. The internet in all of its glory has made information available to people, for free, with a few taps on the keyboard (or talking to Alexa)
While I appreciate the debate ending power the internet possesses and it’s ability to end the stupidest of arguments, it might be making us dumb**
Where we get in trouble is when we expect an answer but get guidelines or ideas that require critical thinking and problem-solving. Or even worse we see something that we don’t like (cough**How to pay off debt fast? Give the lender more money**cough) and immediately dismiss what we are reading.
Being able to take information in, digest it, fit your situation and implement it is crucial for success. It’s what separates good employees from great (seriously if you want one skill that gets you paid learn to solve problems others can’t).
Creating your own path is also fun as hell. Taking bits of information from books, blogs, and podcasts and adapting them to our own life is a challenging and rewarding experience. I wouldn’t trade it for a How-To article any day.
Next time you read something that doesn’t fit into your life a neat little bow, take some time to appreciate what is possible then start to forge your own path.
**Yes, I understand the irony of writing about the internet on the internet 🙂