God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
the courage to change the things I can;
and the wisdom to know the difference.
These last few months have been trying times for me, personally and financially. Several things have happened to create sort of a “perfect storm” in my life and when that happens I always look for some piece of inspiration–something to keep me on track. I found that peace in The Serenity Prayer, and have applied its lessons to my personal finances and beyond.
God Grant Me the Serenity To Accept the Things I Cannot Change
Stop and think for a moment about all the things that are currently causing stress in your financial life. I bet there are quite a few you have control over, like overspending or expensive car payments. But if you are like me there may be other things that are outside of your control, yet they continue to cause stress. Here are some examples I have witnessed recently from others:
- The stock market losses. If you are in the market for the long haul there is little you can do to hedge against these wild swings (mostly downward swings) over the last few months. Instead of worrying over stock tickers incessantly, try to put it out of your mind and remember that you have a long-term perspective.
- Political landscape. I’m not the best one to be advising others not be stressed over politics. I used to be a politics junkie, listening to talk radio and news most of the day. But over the last couple years I have unplugged from a lot of it. Politicians on both sides of the aisle have abandoned fiscal conservatism, as the recent bailouts have shown, and the more I listen to politicians finding ways to spend our hard-earned tax dollars, the higher my blood pressure gets!
- The financial situation of others. Many people lie awake at night and worry over other people’s financial problems–their parents, their kids, their best friend, etc. While it is healthy to show some concern, it is healthier to recognize that they make their own decisions freely, and the best thing you can do is be a supportive father, son or friend.
The Courage To Change the Things I Can
When you have identified the things you do have control over you must find the courage to make changes in your life. For example, if you are unhappy with your current salary, what strategies are within your control to increase that number? Chances are your boss isn’t just going to give you a raise for no reason. You may have to return to school to finish your degree, or agree to take on some additional training related to your job. You may have to start your own side hustle. All of these things take courage because they are outside of our comfort zone.
The Wisdom To Know the Difference
Most of us are aware of the types of things that cause us stress, and the thing that don’t. The challenge is placing a new challenge in our lives into one of those two categories. It is this “wisdom to know the difference” that makes ALL the difference. Chances are right now you are worrying over things that are not within your control, and not worrying about things that are within your control.
I encourage you to reflect on the things that are now causing stress in your life. Take some time to jot them down on a piece of paper, and then really search deep down to figure out which column they belong in–things you cannot change, and things you can. Then get busy developing a plan to change those things you can. You will feel better just for having gone through the exercise.