Great News! I Just “Fired” Myself! (Who’s Next?)

The following guest post is from Neal Frankle of Wealth Pilgrim. Wealth Pilgrim is on my short list of daily reads. After reading the post, head over to Neal’s site and sign up to receive his posts.

“Firing” myself was the very best thing I ever did – and it might be the best thing that you could do for yourself too.

Before you conclude that I’m completely out of my mind, let me ask you a question:

Do you continue to disappoint yourself in some aspect of your (financial) life?  Spending, budgeting, saving, investing, earning?

If so, you may want to “fire” yourself like I did and “hire” a more qualified manager. The good news is, life will improve tremendously.  Even better, it may not cost you a cent to do it.

Let me explain.

I have a small business and (at times) I’ve suffered from the “Superman Syndrome”.

I used to think that I could do everything better, faster and smarter than everyone else.  I’m not proud of this but it’s true and it’s cost me plenty

Of course, as time went on, the facts and results got in the way of my ego.  There were certain things that I did very poorly and even though I knew it, I continued this self-destructive behavior.

Let me give you an example.

I love to tinker with the computer and many years ago, I designed a system to automate a part of my business.  It worked….to a point.  But it had some flaws that continued to pop up – and each time a flaw did come up, it cost me time and money to fix.

Rather than realize what was going on, I threw myself into the problem.  I spent more and more time trying to improve the program I wrote.

Finally, after months and months of wasted time and money, I “fired” myself and hired a programmer to do the job for me.

As a result of his work, I’ve saved countless time and money.  In fact, the money I invested in him was paid back in the first month just in reduced errors.  “Firing” myself turned out great.

Of course, the idea of “firing” yourself goes much further.

I’d like to give you another example:

When I first started my business, I was full of fear.  My wife was working in our home.  Since I was the only one bringing in money, I was deathly afraid of what might happen to our family if the business didn’t make it.

I experienced real financial terror growing up (since I was homeless for a short time) and I was fully committed to making sure that wouldn’t happen to my wife or kids.

Nothing wrong with motivation….but I became obsessed.

I refused to spend money on anything other than the bare necessities.  Keep in mind that we weren’t in debt at the time and the business was generating a decent income.

Even after the business established itself, my tight-wad ways continued.

I stayed in the fear-mode much longer than even I could justify.

I wouldn’t go out to restaurants or movies.  I wouldn’t buy anything and I would “encourage” my family to live the same empty life I imposed on myself.

I was miserable and I’m sure my wife was too.  It was no way to live.

Fortunately, I “fired” myself before my wife did.

“Firing” myself saved my family and made my life enjoyable again.

I’m pretty passionate about this because I think it’s terrible for anyone to struggle when they don’t have to.  If you face similar issues, here’s how you can “fire” yourself:

1. Write down what part of your (financial) life is out of control.

What problem do you find yourself confronting all the time?  What comes up? Are you constantly taking the wrong jobs?  Do you have the wrong spending habits?  Do you promise to track your spending….but never follow through?  What is it?

How do you hold yourself back? How do you sabotage yourself?

We all have character defects. What are yours? Are you lazy? Is that why you stopped tracking your expenses? Is that why you’re sitting on the couch rather than looking for work?

Do you fight with your partner about money because you are selfish? Have you stopped investing because of your fear? Does your arrogance alienate others who might otherwise provide good counsel?

2. How does it make your life unmanageable?

What is the result of your “best efforts”?  For example, as hard as I tried, I couldn’t stop worrying about money.  I couldn’t stop clamping down on my family – even thought I knew it was wrong.

Do you or your family go without? Do you constantly fight?  Are you making your partner’s life miserable?  Are you stressed constantly – no matter what you do? Do you spend recklessly and then wonder why you have a huge credit card bill (and then repeat this process over and over again)?

If you really want to get to the next level financially, be honest. It’s this lack of honesty that keeps people buying financial books and systems. They keep looking for the magic bullet that’s going to fix their problems. Instead, look for your own character defects and become willing to do the work.

3.   What have you done to try to get this under control and what was the result?

Have you made promises to others (or yourself)…..only to break those promises sooner or later?  Have you signed up for classes that might help you get a better job – only to not show up?  Have you installed budget tracking software, and then failed to use it?

This reminds me of the smoker who explains how easy it is to quit smoking; it’s so easy he quits once every day.

If the result is always the same – failure – you need a different solution.  And here it is:

Fire yourself

This advice may sound strange but think about yourself as a business.

If you had an employee who continued to mess up time and time again, you’d fire him, wouldn’t you? If someone demonstrates a complete lack of ability to perform a given task, she’s gone. Right?

Let’s say you’ve tried and failed several times to track your expenses. You’ve made promises to yourself that you break time and time again. You’ve failed yourself once too many times— so fire yourself.

Hire a better manager.

One way to do this is to “hire” an accountability partner and “report” to her.  It can be a friend or your spouse.  Anyone who has the qualities that you want.  Someone you trust and respect.  Someone you are willing to take direction from.

Keep in mind, that when you “fire” yourself and “hire” another person, your mind will play tricks on you.  There will be a little voice inside that will keep lying to you. It will tell you that you don’t need to follow direction.  “You are a grown up and you can decide things for yourself” the voice will say.

This is a lie.  You’ve already proven that.  That’s why I asked you to write down all the steps you’ve taken to try to correct the problem and what the results were.  There is no shame in asking for help – but that little voice inside your head will tell you that there is.

Don’t listen.

You “fired” yourself.  That’s all you have to remember.

Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help.

Look around. There are plenty of people in your life who would be happy to be on your team. Tell them what it is you want to do and do it. Tell them you want them to be your accountability “boss”. Tell them the problem you are trying to solve, be honest about it, and commit to take action and report daily or weekly, as the case may be. Tell them that they can “fire” you if you fail to live up to your promises.

This one idea has helped millions of people overcome serious problems such as substance abuse, and it can be invaluable to you as well.

Stop thinking and take action right now.

If you’ve gotten this far, you know what to do. Get a piece of paper and go through the action steps I outlined above.  Go “hire” your new accountability partner. Make the call now.

Don’t think about it anymore. Do it.

Fortunately, these techniques work for me. I have to keep doing the work by checking in with my accountability partner but it does work if I do my work.

Do you need to “fire” yourself?  Have you already done so?  What has been the result so far?

Comments

  1. Sounds like a great decision and a great way to enhance your business. You have to know your limitations and when you can’t do something, hiring a VA is a great way to get quality service and free up time for you to do something else.

  2. I love this tip. Instead of getting down on ourselves and moping around about how I didn’t do this or that, this is a great way of looking at it. Firing yourself to hire someone else to get the job done makes a whole lot of sense.

    Thanks!

  3. Hey Neal! Good reminder to not always think we can do everything the best way. At some certain point, it’s better to bring people in and work their expertise eg. a pro tax preparer or financial planner.

    I fired myself from installing double paned windows, and will fire myself from cleaning the backyard! YES!

  4. Oh gosh, this hits way too close to home. I have this constant struggle in my head not to spend unnecessary money, however I did just give up changing my own oil. baby steps I guess.

  5. i wouldn’t sat that i have fired myself per se but i am looking for others to take slots in my businesses that i come short. but as you may very well know by now, good help is very hard to find so more often than not, i am left fiddling around. it is aggravating but at the moment there is very little that i can do about it. but i am looking and i will find good help :)

  6. great article. I laughed when I read the title. My wife fired me from our business finances long ago. My feeling were hurt at first, but suddenly life got much easier and the money we saved more than paid for itself.

  7. Oh, Amen. This is a very easy trap to fall into, as my natural tendency is to do-it-myself / micro-manage / control-freak.

    Gotta learn to trust. Just over the past year, I’ve gotten over some big humps with this as my daily workload started out as more than anyone could handle on their own. Handing things off was something I had to do to survive.

    And I’ll never build my own computer again, btw.

  8. I’ll be “firing” myself in the upcoming tax season. I’ve always done my own taxes, but am positive I could be saving more money if I paid a professional to do it for me.

  9. True. The most efficient workers are the ones who can do their work blindfolded, so to speak. I’d probably do my taxes or fix my own car or whatever just for the sake of learning, but if it has to be done asap, I wouldn’t hesitate getting someone else to do it.

  10. Wow, Great article. I have fired myself from every home improvment job for the last 4 years. I always start off well, spend a bunch of money on supllies, get in over my head, make a mess of things, and then hire someone else who does it in less time for half the cost that I’ve already spent. I’ve finally accepted the fact that I’m not a handy man.

    Great Article,

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