May 1, 2017 by Administrator
When we’re in debt, “we walk a tightrope and live in apprehension of impending disaster. It exhausts us. We come to feel defeated and hopeless,” writes Jerrold Mundis, author of How to Get Out of Debt, Stay Out of Debt and Live Prosperously. It’s true that this is where most of us end up. When I was living in debt, at first, I didn’t mind living the way I was living. Most of the people I knew were living the same way.
In fact, most people are living paycheck to paycheck. Most people haven’t made life goals. Most people don’t have a financial snapshot. Most people are just surviving. But as Mundis warns, that existence is fragile and can easily overwhelm. It’s even worse because we live in a culture that distracts you from you. Advertising is really designed to take your attention off of you and keep you focused on things that you don’t need or just can’t afford. Advertisers make it easy for us to live in chaos because we’re constantly looking at other people’s dresses, other people’s cars, other people’s items, instead of focusing on our own needs and wants.
Let’s bring the focus back to you. What are your life goals? Write them down. It’s been well researched and documented that those who have written goals are more likely to be successful than those who do not have written goals. Written goals are best when they emerge from our innermost dreams, yet we have to be flexible enough to edit and amend these goals when necessary.
When writing your goals, try to block out the noise of other people’s expectations. The biggest mistake one can make is to write a goal based upon the expectations of others. Too many people live and die pursuing dreams that others have for them. This is the time when it’s necessary to focus on yourself. If you have a relationship with God, rely upon it. What has God called you to do in your life? What desires has God put in your heart? True, God may change your plans, one of the best reasons to remain flexible, but you can’t go wrong if you’re open to God.
Once you know your goals, you need to have a strategy for accomplishing them. Financial freedom is not money management; financial freedom is life management. We’re managing our lives and using money to pursue our goals. Many people make the mistake of having a mental picture of what success looks like without envisioning the strategy or specific actions it will take to achieve success.
The first time I started a business, I used the money I had won from a small lawsuit. My partner and I went out and rented a nice office, bought furniture and hired a nice assistant to work in the office. The business location was good, the products were nice and the product prices were competitive. Interestingly, we went out of business in six months! Our downfall was the result of placing our emphasis on the wrong things.
Businesses succeed when the emphasis is placed on doing business. That means contacting customers, selling products and minimizing overheads. We were completely focused on optics (how we looked) rather than operations (how we functioned).
In the Christian bible, Gideon had an army that looked very good and appeared ready for battle. But how they looked was not going to determine the outcome of their battle. Gideon needed to re-size his troops in order to be prepared to win the battle that was laid before him. His biggest problem was that he had an over reliance on physical strength and an under appreciation for the spiritual nature of this fight.
I believe every pursuit that we undertake has to be positioned to connect with God’s will. If we want to win simply to win, we risk being irrelevant as it relates to God’s agenda. But when our efforts are designed to let others know that God gave us our victory, then we can de-emphasize our plans and surrender to God’s plans. Gideon surrendered to God’s plan and won the battle.
When you’re battling with debt, it’s time to do a deep dive. Be prepared to come up for air in a humble state of surrender.
Get organized by tracking spending, list your income and bills, establish at least one banking relationship, and secure all of your financial documents and records. Next, you’ll be ready to list and analyze your needs and wants. You’ll be at a turning point where you’re ready to align your needs and wants with the strategy that will help you reach your life goals.
Saying yes to no debt is challenging work, but it will get you off that tightrope and, possibly, save your life.
DeForest B. Soaries, Jr., author of Say Yes to No Debt: 12 Steps to Financial Freedom, is the senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset, New Jersey and is the architect of the dfree® financial freedom movement.