Fulfilled People Have Plans, Y'all

September 27, 2016

Dave Ramsey emailed me this week. Me and probably millions of other people but never mind them. One of the main articles was 5 Traits of Fulfilled People and it was great. According to their blog post, fulfilled people:

  1. Have a plan
  2. Are grateful
  3. Control their money instead of being controlled by it.
  4. Are debt-free
  5. Are givers

I really hope the Ramsey Corporation doesn’t mind me quoting #1 in its entirety.

“Fulfilled people know where they want to go in life, and they know how to get there. Not only that, but they’re not bogged down in hopelessness that it’ll never happen. They’re full of hope for the future and optimistic that with hard work and prayer, they’ll see their plans become reality.”

This provided a lot of mental fodder for the week. I don’t know about you, but for me, in some areas of my life I can fall in the trap of being passive and not really making a plan for where I want to go. It seems to be the path of least resistance to let things happen TO you, to wait for opportunities to come to you, to wait for someone else to have an idea for your future. This passive mentality ends up deteriorating ambition and I at least can forget how rewarding it is to “drive the bus” instead of simply being a passenger. An unbuckled one at that since I don’t know if seatbelt are required yet on buses. Anywho…. back to having a plan.

Having a plan applies to so many things!

TIME

My amazing friend Bonnie released her first vlog this week containing 5 tips for busy moms to get some time for themselves. While not exactly (or at all yet) a busy mom myself, I really liked her idea of having a plan for the moments of free time. If you don’t, you can spend that time wondering what you should do. It reminds me of a conversation my sister and I had several months ago which led to “Bored Lists”. There are things we know we want to do if they just got half a second of attention but the barrier to entry when bored feels insurmountable. You know, those moments when you’re not sure what you could be doing so you turn to social media or junk emails or real emails or aimless looking up stuff on your phone or computer. Kind of a really lame way to spend some precious moments of life when you think about it for longer than 2 seconds.

MONEY

This one super requires the hope and optimism described above. Without a plan you totally wander (spend, track, allocate your money) aimlessly and your money seriously ends up spending itself and you end up demoralized. Having hope that your money life (and thus whole life) can be different and that you can be the boss of your spending puts the biggest spring in your step. Making a plan in advance of your spending makes you the captain of your ship, however big it may be. Don’t call it budgeting if you hate that word, and trust me for a loooong time I did. Just know how much money you have, what you HAVE TO spend it on (utilities, rent/mortgage, basic food, gas for the car), and then what you WANT TO spend. This latter category (and of course getting out of debt) is sort of my reason for making the plan for the first two types of expenses and sticking to them. My luxury categories are kind of sacred territory even though they’re not terribly robust. I’d rather go hungry than take money out of my Clothing & Luxuries account. Yes, I am mostly exaggerating but you get the idea. So, make that plan and then have some or a lot of that confidence and hope that you CAN stick with it and that your financial future CAN BE different. And in reference to choosing where you want to go I cannot encourage enough getting a WHY. I elaborate below on the concept of destinations but this is a huge deal for money. Your destination (“why”) might be getting out of debt. It might be overcoming life-long spending shame.It might be being able to give more generously to people who have so little. It might be saving up for a new house or land in Montana (okay, okay, maybe that last one is specific to me, but you get the idea).  For a couple posts about making a plan for your money (AKA budgeting) read here and here.

LIFE

This one is a total area of opportunity for me and probably many of us. By “life” I refer to things like careers and optional big goals. Many a great opportunity has come to me for which I’m grateful since some I wouldn’t have even known about to seek out. Who knew Regulatory Science was a career? Not me until I applied for a temporary administrative assistant job in the Huntsman Cancer Institute Clinical Trials department. They had an opening for a Regulatory Coordinator a few weeks before my temporary role ended and I was fortunate to be hired for it and spend three years learning and growing there. I wouldn’t have known to even look for related jobs! Other great opportunities have seemingly just come to me – promotions, new jobs, new relationships, trips/adventures, etc. – without me seeking them out. I do think that God has a role in bringing most of these opportunities but I also believe He wants us to identify places we want to go and He’ll help us get there. That whole “identify places we want to go” is tough for me! Picking the job title I want in 2 or 5 years? Almost impossible. But I’ve kind of got to pick my direction so I don’t just spin my wheels, hanging out in the State of Stagnant. Or worse, have someone else pick a direction for me, a direction that may be incompatible with my goals and personality and lifestyle. It’s only fun to leave things to chance or others when it comes to adventures. Years ago friends and I ran away from home for 24 hours. We were all college-graduates and working full-time so really it was just a funny escapade. We limited the amount of cash we could each bring to $30 (I think) and between the 5 of us we needed to cover dinner, movie, and hotel. Oh, and personal items (“luggage”) was limited to a grocery sack – what felt like a modern day knapsack. Picture a bandana with a few things wrapped in it, tied to a pole. That’s what we were going for. Anyway, I was pushing for writing down 3 destinations on slips of paper and drawing out of the hat but was overruled and we just went to Logan, Utah, about 80 miles away from SLC where we had a grand time. Said “grand time” included stopping at a couple hotels trying to get a room for just the cash we had in hand (around $50 I believe). The hotel clerks found it a lot less entertaining than we did and I think we ended up having to put the still-dumpy room on a debit card since we couldn’t find a room for less than $60-70 and 5 of us sleeping in my Subaru in January sounded a little more authentic than we were willing to go.

The above long story and really this whole blog post is to highlight (for myself as much as anyone) the reality that we’ve got to have a destination in order to know which direction to head. Loosely my destinations include: getting debt-free, cultivating a meaningful career, getting married and raising a family, writing a book. What are yours? Have you identified them clearly lately? If we all get a little more specific on those destinations and make a plan for the ones in our control, we sure have better chances of arriving where desired instead of finding ourselves perched on the entirely wrong ladder.