How many times has someone told you to start where you are? Do not think about tomorrow and forget about the past. Live in the present and begin to make changes today. I can hear you say, “this is easier said than done”. It may appear as such, but it is rather easy because you control what you do today. There is no control over tomorrow and what was done yesterday is already done. Start where you are means to look at your situation day-to-day in broad daylight. No more smoke screens and mirrors!
I know it is easy for me to just sit back and give advice, but my advice comes from a place called ‘Experience.” I had to do the same thing in order for me to live my current lifestyle. I could read about affluence, and I could dream about it, but to live it, I had to step back and evaluate my life and my daily habits. Whew! That was a very scary process for me! Therefore, I completely understand why you may hesitate or feel overwhelmed just thinking about it for yourself. What is important to remember is life is life, and it is real all day, every day.
However, the first step is to start. Procrastination is not going to make it any easier. How many times have you kicked the can down the road to find out five years later the can was still waiting for you to pick it up and dust it off? In order to get where you want to go, you must begin where you are. The GPS even ask for a starting location before it maps out the route to your destination. Imagine that! You enter the wrong starting point and find yourself going in circles rather than the shortest, quickest, direct route.
What do I mean when I say start where you are today? I mean you should be true to thyself and accept who you are, where you are, and what you have. Let past mistakes be water under the bridge so that you can have a clear mental picture of the road you want to travel. We all will stumble or fall along the way, but the best way to win is to get back up as quick as we can.
How can we achieve this?
- Prioritize self-care! Your mental, spiritual, and physical health come before anything else that you may want to do. Dealing with the real world and the angst that comes with it can be daunting if your body, mind, and soul are not in alignment. Pause, take deep breaths, exercise regularly, eat balanced meals, and get therapy, as needed, to prepare yourself for the journey ahead. I want to hit the “pause” button for a second to remind you that “therapy” is not a negative term or dirty word. It is actually healthy and positive. I sought therapy for six weeks just to get clarity about who I am because I wanted to be true to me. I have found in my fourteen years of teaching about finances that people do not know who they really are but rather define themselves either by things or their occupation. I encourage you to learn who you are because the greatest return is going to be becoming the best version of yourself.
- Evaluate your current situation and how you got there. Figure it out to avoid the bumps in the road along the way. Where do you begin? Track your spending to learn your daily habits. Write down everything you purchase for the next 30 to 60 days to get a clear picture of your cash flow. Review your expenses to determine where you can reduce them. Calculate the amount of money you need in an emergency fund for unexpected expenses. Do you have enough life insurance to protect your assets and against loss of income? This is the time to review your values, cars, jobs, homes, cities, diets, and everything that matters. Pull out the paper, pencil, and calculator for a math lesson. The good news is this is basic math without any complicated formulas! Analyze the current snapshot of your financial situation to determine the directions you need to follow to reach your destination. I did this exact exercise, and it was not fun or pretty when I started, but I reached my new destination in a pretty fun way.
- Get support from a mentor or licensed financial professional. It was the best thing that I ever did when I found someone who helped me to minimize my mistakes and maximize my belief. They shared what worked for them and gave me solid proven financial advice. Be mindful of getting advice from someone who has not accomplished what you are trying to do. Connect with people with similar circumstances and journey together. Embrace the fact that your goals may not be the same, but the end goal should be the same: finish what you started, do not quit.
What did I learn from starting where I was while on my journey? I learned that I could restructure my life any way that I wanted it to be. I learned that I could change my goals along the way as long as I continued to move forward and not drift. I learned that the trials did not last forever, and mistakes were just lessons. The biggest lesson of all is I learned to not compare myself to my friends or other people. They only displayed the external while I was grappling with the internal. There was no way for me to know what was happening with them internally. Therefore, I could not have a fair comparison. The Joneses, Smiths, and Browns had the appearance of financial success but as soon as a strong wind blew, their house of cards faltered.
My goal was to never lose sight of where I wanted to be and when I wanted to arrive there. I kept my eyes on the prize and stayed in my lane. I aligned with my mission and increased my income with side hustles. My side hustles led me to other people that led me to explore options I would not have considered which led me to writing this personal finance column. Today, I am the mentor, the financial coach, and licensed professional because I started my journey right where I was. It is never too late, and you should not be ashamed because all is not lost. I am here to help you start where you are today!
Contact me the Money Master at firstname.lastname@example.org to begin your journey.