Almost every self help book begins with setting goals to the point where it almost becomes a clich. This is not intended to be a self help post but an aid to finding freedom particularly in our finances. However an interesting byproduct of financial freedom is the discovery of many other new freedoms in your life.
A number of years ago I worked and lived with several heroin addicts. These people were at a stage where they wanted to change. They were fed up with a meaningless and aimless life in which they would probably die. What I discovered was that the addictions were not their real problem. Usually there was some part of their lives that they had found so unsatisfying that an escape into drugs seemed to be their only option. Once they were addicted they were totally committed to that habit. Their lives revolved around the next fix or how they were going to get the next lot of drugs. To change required replacing that passion with something new. That change to be effective needed to be totally life encompassing. It meant removing themselves from that environment and replacing it with a new one that gave them the freedom to be themselves without the aid of drugs.
In many ways that is what we need to do if we are to find financial freedom. Our lives need to be ruled by some new order. We need to replace hopelessness with hope.
Tim Costello quotes Ivan Illich an advocate of the poor in South America. He was asked what the most powerful way to change a society. Illich response was this,
Neither revolution nor reformation can ultimately change a society. Rather you must tell a new and powerful tale, one so pervasive that it sweeps away the old myths and becomes the preferred story, one so inclusive that it gathers all the bits from the past and our present into a coherent whole, one that even shines some light into the future so that we can take the next step forward.
I believe this is also true for us as individuals. We need to gather our lives so far into a coherent whole and then begin to create a new story for our lives. Once we begin this process we can then begin to make progress.
Viktor Frankl a psychologist was imprisoned in a German concentration camp during the second world war. During this time he had the chance to observe human behaviour set in the most awful of conditions. He observed that when faced with the same conditions that people responded in different ways. Some were able to rise above their circumstances and others were enveloped by them and gave up in despair. He also observed that even in a concentration camp there were those who were happy.
He concluded from this experience that:
Happiness is never achieved as an end in itself. It is always a by product of either: giving yourself to a higher cause or giving yourself to another in love.
- Talk to others about their ideas to gain inspiration
- Create an environment regularly for reflection. For example keep a journal, take a regular walk or bike ride, read books, sit without watching TV or listening to the radio or watching a movie
- Set out what do you want to achieve.
- What is essential. These are your short term goals (Pay bills, holiday)
- What you would like to achieve in the future. These are your medium to long term goals ( a better job, retire at 50, buy my own business)
- Map an achievable plan to achieve your goals (How much you need to earn, study, business plan etc.)
- Do it!! Don't put your plans off any longer start implementing your plans because this is the only way that they will happen.