Today I want to talk to you about a message I have read in a book that I am currently reading – it’s called The Compassionate Mind by Paul Gilbert*.
In the book he talks about how we need to be more compassionate with ourselves, and he tells a story about when he was a student psychologist. He was feeling worried that as a student, he wasn’t serving his patients properly, and his supervisor replied that he was learning, and that the essence of life is to “start where we are, and use what we have”. I thought this was particularly poignant and I’ll tell you why.
Often we are living in the future, or living in the past. How many times have you caught yourself saying “one day I’ll do X” or “I wish I had learnt to do Y sooner”.
I did this (and still do this) a lot
I used to stress about my debt hole, and would beat myself up for getting into it in the first place. The point is, it’s happened now, and I have to get myself out of it. I have to remember the things that being in debt has taught me – consistency, patience and a whole new way of spending within my means. Without the debt, this likely would never have happened, and I probably wouldn’t be writing to you now.
It’s funny how adversity can actually be a strength.
The next thing I often stress about is the future. I compare myself to other money bloggers and worry that I’m not good enough, or that I’ll never reach their stage of success. Sometimes the feeling is so overwhelming I want to quit. But I don’t, and the reason is because of the “start where you are” mentality.
Stop Doing It
Comparisonitis only makes you feel bad. The other person doesn’t have a clue, although if they find out, it might make them feel bad too!
So focus on you, and only you. Turn off the notifications from people who trigger your feelings of inadequacy, or remember that there are things they will be struggling with too.
It’s easy to compare someone’s “front page” with your messy back one, but it isn’t a fair fight. It’s like comparing apples with cabbages. Completely different! Plus, some people will be 4 years into their journey, while others will only be 6 months into it. Some have more time, others have less. But honestly IT DOESN’T MATTER.
There is enough room in this world for everyone.
Marie Forleo says it better….
Everyone Starts Small
This doesn’t just work for bloggers, this works for money too. We don’t arrive on this planet as babies with a working knowledge of the stock market, or know instantly how to budget our money. This is a skill we must learn, and sadly, due to the fact that our parents often lack these skills, we go for years learning by trial and error. Sometimes we learn some really harsh lessons that could have been avoided if only we’d have had guidance earlier.
The problem is, we often compare ourselves to others. According to Paul Gilbert’s book, this is a design feature of our brain for survival back in the stone age. We needed to be aware of how others perceived us in order to feel accepted into the tribe so that we don’t die in the wilderness all alone!
Stop Doing It
Your money journey is going to look completely different to someone else’s. Some people start with debt, others have none. Start from where you are with what you’ve got and keep your eyes on your own goals.
Tracking your progress is actually a really useful exercise. I track my net worth on a spreadsheet, and look back over the years I have been doing it and get really excited to see the little lines moving and changing. Looking back shows you how far you’ve come, looking forward makes you feel like you’ll never get there, so look at your feet and move one step at a time.
Dave Ramsey has a really useful “baby steps” model that might give you a sense of how you could apply an organised step-wise approach in your own money.
They go like this:
- Baby Step 1: $1,000 cash in a beginner emergency fund
- Baby Step 2: Use the debt snowball to pay off all your debt but the house
- Baby Step 3: A fully funded emergency fund of 3 to 6 months of expenses
- Baby Step 4: Invest 15% of your household income into retirement
- Baby Step 5: Start saving for college
- Baby Step 6: Pay off your home early
- Baby Step 7: Build wealth and give generously
Dave Ramsey is American, which is why it is in dollars, and he talks about saving for college, but this could be the equivalent in your own currency and for the circumstances in your own country.
For example, in the UK, Martin Lewis doesn’t actually recommend that you save for university unless you’re set to make a lot of money when you graduate. But in America, to Dave Ramsey, this would be unspeakable blaspheming.
The point is, figure out where you are on this list, and then start right from there. In my opinion, step 1,2,3,4, and 5 (if required) should all be done simultaneously.
- 1 and 3 are linked, so would be a savings account that you could automate and put money into every month straight after payday using a direct debit.
- Investing is a crucial element to financial security, and the sooner you start the better (whatever your age or circumstances – even if you only have pennies to invest, download Moneybox and do it!).
- Paying off debt needs to happen alongside everything else using the snowball method (paying off the smallest to largest debt first)
This is where the money-pie budget method comes in and is useful to help you with getting your head around this. Don’t worry about the percentages of income you need to devote to each area, this will take time to build up to. If you can only devote 1% into each of these areas, then so be it until you have rearranged your spending. The point is you’re now aware of your own spending, and you can see where you need to make changes.
You don’t have to be great at something to start, but you have to start to be great at something – Zig Ziglar
If you would like to seek the support of others in your journey, come over to my free private Facebook Group. We’d love to have you!
Until next time,