When I coach people about their money, I can tell pretty quickly if they are serious about making changes or not. The ones who are serious will listen to me. They will step back and really examine their habits. They are willing to make sacrifices. They say “Hmm… let me think about it. I guess we don’t NEED three cars.”
But the ones who aren’t ready – they have a different tune. They have excuses. They have special circumstances. When I suggest re-thinking the cable package, they say “Well how would we watch Survivor?” And when I say, “Isn’t that on CBS? You can get that channel for free” – they say “But we couldn’t POSSIBLY lose the sports station”. But soon they are justifying their addiction to Starbucks because of a busy schedule. And their required gel manicures for a professional office. And their penchant for Whole Foods, ie “If I don’t buy organic I’m basically poisoning myself”.
Fear likes to creep into our lives, and fear tells us that our problems are worse than other people’s. Fear tells us that no one could possibly understand, and that our struggles are insurmountable.
Everytime I hear “But my situation is a little different”, I have a chuckle. (If I had a dollar for every time I heard it, I’d be much closer to financial independence!) But when you say that, that’s when I know – you aren’t serious. Come back to me when you are desperate to get ahead in life and willing to cut out a few luxuries. Stop making excuses. #sorrynotsorry
I get it. You are a unique snowflake who has struggles that no one else could possibly understand. But here’s the rub – WE ALL DO. Don’t paint yourself into a corner of debt because your parents couldn’t afford to pay for your college education, so you may as well get a fancy car loan on top of those monster student loans. Life pro tip: you do not need an eight passenger SUV to safeguard the lives of your not-yet-born children.
Yes, you are unique, and so is everyone else. You probably have challenges that some other people don’t have. That’s no excuse not to do the best you can.
Fear has a way of convincing us that we’re so unique we’re beyond help.
If you think that your situation is special, and there is nothing you can do to better yourself, you won’t change your behavior. If you think you are unique, and no one else can possibly understand your challenges, you won’t reach out for help.
I don’t believe there is anyone out there whose situation is so dire that there is nothing they can do to better it. Actually, quite the opposite. If you are in an absolute hole, sometimes a very little thing can really make a big difference. If you have really terrible habits, just a little change can impact your life in ways you didn’t foresee.
I believe in you.
Don’t use your history an as excuse not to succeed. Don’t listen to the fear.
Red flags you are terminally unique:
- When someone else is successful, you say “Must be nice.”
- When someone accomplishes something you wish you could do, you say “Yeah but THEY didn’t struggle with” [insert your unique situation here].
- When someone asks if you need help, you say “You couldn’t possibly understand.”
- When someone gives you advice you say “That couldn’t work for ME because” and you justify not even trying.
- And lest you think I am immune from this syndrome – I used many excuses to justify my lavish spending. “I’m a professional Financial Advisor, I HAVE TO drive a BMW and get frequent manicures.”
People who are ready for a change, when their debt and their finances finally become too much to handle, they stop making excuses and start making changes. When you hear someone is successful, instead of thinking of why that couldn’t work for you – ask HOW it could work for you. Instead of comparing how different your lives are, think about how new habits would look in your life. When someone accomplishes something awesome, instead of “Must be nice”, why not ask them how they did it? Chances are you can learn something from them.
Everyone is unique. Everyone’s situation is a little different. How have you used your “special circumstances” to justify your bad habits?