Like you, I take stock of myself this time of the year. I look back over the last 365 days and consider my accomplishments. I also think about the challenges I still face. I think about what I could have done differently in 2009 and how to apply those lessons in the coming year and beyond.
This reflection is a really good thing – especially when it comes to finances.
But let’s face it. For most of us, there is only so much you can to do.
Sure we can learn more about money. We can earn more, spend less, get rid of more debt and invest better. But I have to be honest with myself. I’m going to be working on doing better in these areas for the rest of my life. Probably, so will you.
So..yes…..taking this “financial inventory” is mission critical for me….but it’s also dangerous and I’ll tell you why.
I don’t know about you, but when I think about my finances, I think about improving things. I focus on the outcome. The results. Control.
But in reality, most results are beyond my control.
Look….in 2008 my business and my income suffered a lot. When I did my financial inventory last year, it wasn’t fun. Like you, I lost a lot. Doing my “financial inventory” hurt. I was in a lot of pain and fear. Even though I wasn’t responsible for the global financial crisis – it felt like I was.
This year, things look better and I feel better. Yes, we cut expenses…..but much of the improvement in our financial situation is a result of the economy improving and that’s beyond my control too.
I’m sick of tying my sense of well-being to things I have no control over. I am officially turning in my badge. That’s it. I quit.
I’m going to try my hardest to stop taking responsibility for things I have no control over – good or bad.
What I will do is take responsibility for suiting up and showing up – but that’s it. My inventory is going to consist of a whole new list:
1. Did I spend in a reasonable and adult manner? Or did I act in fear and unreasonably?
2. Did I invest in a similar way?
3. Did I spend my time wisely?
4. Did I have fun? What can I do to enjoy the process of earning a living, cutting my spending and investing?
5. Am I trying to control the outcomes or am I willing to let my best be good enough – regardless of the outcome?
6. Was I of service to other people? Did I try to help?
This may seem really basic to you but it’s not for me. I’m hard-wired to focus on the outcome . That’s a good quality and it’s helped me a lot. But that same character attribute is also a character defect when I take it too far and my natural tendency is to do so.
What about you? What are you going to take inventory of this year? Do you think it’s OK to focus on results?