Unless you’ve won the lottery, your financial situation likely hasn’t changed since the passing of your New Year’s resolutions. And when I say “passing”, I’m not referring to the death of your resolutions, but to the acceptance of them. Come to think of it, I’ve been known to kill off a few resolutions long before the second week of the year. So, your choice, I guess.
I’ve always liked the idea of resolutions. But as well intentioned as they may be, they don’t always provide the infrastructure for change or success. Too often they’re simply a statement of end results. I’m going to eat less, exercise more, spend less, save more. Great objectives, no doubt. But with no system in place, no guardrails to protect them, they’re just that – objectives. And what happens, then, for most of us? We’re riding high on this wave of change, betterment and growth, and wham - here comes the second helping of ice cream and the first credit card statement of the year. Then the letdown. Then the meltdown. Can you relate? I’m speaking from experience. But there’s hope.
My son William, through his gifting of deflection, has precisely captured our human condition through a Christmas holiday spat with his brother. William (12) and younger brother Callahan (9) have what you might call, a vibrant sibling rivalry. One evening, when William had had enough of Callahan’s requests for use of their mother’s iPad, he responded by tossing it to Callahan. However, witnesses assert it was thrown at Callahan. There may have been room for reasonable doubt were it not for the bruise on Callahan’s left thigh. William was quickly detained for questioning. This is his story:
“William, [deep breath] why did you throw your mother’s iPad at Callahan?”
“I didn’t!” he exclaimed.
Incredulous of his response in the face of incriminating evidence, I was tempted to go straight to the sentencing phase, when he blurted out,
“It wasn’t me, it was my instinct!”
And there it was. The answer I had no reply to. I was biting my lip to keep from laughing. Mary Lisa turned away, faking a cough, to cover her own outburst. Neither worked. There was no order in the court. We fell apart at his unintentionally honest and accurate admission. In the end, no pun intended, his actions lead to pain. For both of them it turns out.
Call it what you will, instinct, lack of discipline, the fall of man…we may find ourselves in situations we wish we would've avoided. I should have paid cash. I should have gone to bed wanting rather than owing. I should not have thrown the iPad at my brother. But there’s hope.
There’s always hope.
And that’s what we love about the New Year, isn’t it? The opportunity to turn over a new leaf, change bad habits, start new, healthier ones? I’m not going to tell you to spend less at Christmas, and I’m not going to tell you to stop using credit cards. Nope. I’m going to offer three words for the court’s consideration:
Attention. Direction. Destination.
The things I pay attention to,
will lead me in a certain direction.
That direction will ultimately lead me to a destination.
What are you paying attention to? (Conversely, what are you not paying attention to?)
In what direction are you then heading?
Is that the destination you truly seek?
This is the strategy your objectives are looking for – longing for. And it applies to more than just financial stewardship. What are the three most important areas in your life? Apply this axiom: Attention. Direction. Destination. Dare I say, if you spend time addressing these words… you may not need resolutions at all.