Every once in awhile, I like to read things that shake up my paradigm. I believe it’s valuable to be challenged, to be pulled out of your comfort zone, and face things in a new, or at least different, manner. Through one of my favorite blogs (All Financial Matters) I came to hear about and grow interested in a guy by the name of Larry Winget. Some of you may already be familiar with him, but for those who aren’t, suffice it to say that “warm, fuzzy and cuddly” is not this guys style. He’s somewhat more akin to Gunnery Sergeant Hartman from Full Metal Jacket than any motivational speaker you’d likely come across, and frankly, that’s what I like about him. He has trademarked the phrase “the World’s Only Irritational Speaker” (LOL!).
With titles like “Shut Up, Stop Whining, & Get A Life: A Kick-Butt Approach to a Better Life” (2004), “It's Called Work for a Reason!: Your Success Is Your Own Damn Fault” (2007), “You're Broke Because You Want To Be: How to Stop Getting By and Start Getting Ahead” (2008), and “People Are Idiots and I Can Prove It!: The Ten Ways You Are Sabotaging Your Life and How To Overcome Them” (2008), you can get a pretty clear picture as to what Larry’s all about. Larry’s advice can really be summed up very simply:
* figure out what your excuse for not being where you want to be is
* mercilessly kick the crap out of that excuse
* focus on the goal you want to achieve
* buckle down and work your butt of to get there
* don’t stop until you are there.
When you finish all that, pick another goal, and repeat the process.
Is it really that simple? I’m beginning to honestly believe that it is. So I decided to follow along and try my own thought experiment regarding this. Am I where I want to be right now? That’s a hard thing to say because it’s so general. I have a nice life, I don’t really want for anything, my family’s needs are met… yet I would gladly double or triple my income if I could… or would I?
See, here’s where I decided it was time to take Larry up on his approach and see if what he says rings true. Do I really want to do what it takes to double or triple that income? The answer is no… or perhaps I should say “my mind wants to say yes, but my actions clearly say ‘No’”.
Digest that for a minute… it’s our actions that determine what we do and why we do it. Another comment that sunk in with me is that “where your money goes, that’s what’s important to you”. Sounds obvious, right? Yet there’s more to it than that. Think about it this way. Put down on paper what you believe your goals are and what your direction is. Think about what your work goals are, what your life’s ambitions are, and where you think you are heading with them. After doing that, sit down with your check and credit card statements, and track your spending for the last year (or more, if you are up to it). See where you have placed your discretionary money (rent or mortgage, food, lights, and transportation are somewhat given, they are not really discretionary, but even those can be depending on how much is spent). Tally up the categories and see if anything jumps out at you.
I did this, and boy, was one thing abundantly clear. I claimed that I wanted to further my career, that I was focused on doing whatever it took to do well at work and get ahead. That’s what my mind has been telling me… but my actions and my track record tell a very different story. Over four years, I have spent maybe $700-$1000 towards work related training and personal development associated with my job. By contrast, I have spent close to $10,000 over that same period for Scouting. Note, this is personal expenditures to do things, attend trainings, learn techniques to teach to others, purchase gear and learn about it so I could demonstrate it… I’ve put in a community college semester towards my job. I’ve put in half way to a Master’s Degree into Scouting. Think that may be a significant comment? Yeah, I think it is.
The biblical proverb in Luke 12:34 “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” can also be rendered as “where you choose to put your treasure will show you where your heart actually is”.
So now that I have done this experiment, what exactly do I want to do with this information? Is my heart telling me that my true career is in Scouting, and that I should be putting all of my energies into that, since I’m obviously already doing exactly that? It’s an interesting thought, but I have certain reservations... First, I do Scouting because I enjoy it, but I have this strange aversion to making it my career. Since it is something that I enjoy doing and have a passion for, I would rather not get into the political or numbers side of Scouting; my passion is with the Scouting PROGRAM. If I can find a way to make a great living at being a champion of the Scouting PROGRAM, NOW I have something that truly interests me. The fundraising and hustling to make numbers, truly, I have no interest in at all, but that’s the reality of being a Scouting professional (well, most of the time). My true focus and passion is on the program, and how the boys learn from it and interact with it. I’ve always said “when I’m financially secure and I don’t have to work any more, I’d love to go to work for the Boy Scouts”, because I don’t want my livelihood to be dictated by Scouting, I want that passion to come from within me for its own sake, not for a paycheck… and again, I’m making excuses.
So here is where I stand today, and here’ is what I am wondering… what do I really want to do? Do I want to really triple my income, or do I really want to make Scouting a greater part and purpose of my life? My head says I want the money, my actions say Scouting. I know my excuses… now the real work begins… what am I going to do about it?! For the answer, I guess we will all just have to stay tuned :).