The real secret to lasting change

It’s not that some people have willpower and some don’t. It’s that some people are ready to change and others are not.
– James Gordon, M.D.

I am convinced that we will never truly change until we reach the point of being so tired of our existing circumstances that we choose to live a different way. This is true in so many areas of our lives. It’s why so many New Years resolutions fail. On some level intellectually we know we should behave differently, but we are comfortable where we are.

  • I know I should be exercising, but the alarm goes off at 5:00 am and my bed is comfortable and the treadmill will still be there tomorrow.
  • I should be paying more attention to my spiritual walk, but well my favorite TV show is on tonight. I’ll read 2 chapters in my Bible tomorrow night to make up for it.
  • My doctor says I really need to lose weight but I guess I’ll start as soon as I finish this box of Ho Ho’s in the closet.

There is always some reason we can come up with to put off real change, and tomorrow never comes.

The secret of change is that we need to reach the point where we are so fed up with our current circumstance that we will do whatever it takes to change them. Weight Watchers has a slogan that says “Nothing tastes as good as thin feels”. But, the truth is I don’t really believe that down in my heart or my waist line would be a little smaller than it is. There are some days when I think I believe it. I might even keep it up for a few weeks. But eventually the call of that extra slice of pizza or the picture of the Blizzard in the front window at the DQ overcomes my willpower because in my heart I am still satisfied with where I am.

Nowhere is this principle any truer than when it comes to how we manage our money.

Most of us know what we should be doing. The basics of personal finance really aren’t rocket science. We know that if we are going to be successful we need to spend less than we make. Knowing that is one thing. Practically doing it is another because it requires discipline and may well require sacrifice in the short term. Dave Ramsey says that personal finance is 80% behavior and 20% math. I truly believe that to be so.

A few years ago I had a good job. I was making a decent wage, but it just seemed like every month was a struggle. We could never get ahead. We were getting by, but really that was it, we were just getting by. Surviving from month to month. I felt broke, and I reached the point where I was sick and tired of it.   I was fed up with our money going out as fast as it came in.  I reached the point where I was truly ready to change.

It was about that time that I started listening to Dave Ramsey on the radio. I got his books and read them. We decided to make the changes that we needed to get control of our finances and get out of debt. Is real change easy? No real change is never easy. The status quo is easy. Change is hard. But if change is really going to happen we have to reach the point where we want it more than the status quo.

Some people have to hit bottom before they reach this point. It’s the chest pains that land us in the hospital that convince us that we need to lose weight, exercise, and  get healthy. It’s coming home to a note from our spouse saying he or she has had enough that causes us to make the changes needed to restore our relationship. Or maybe it’s the foreclosure notice or the trip to the bankruptcy lawyer that shakes us to the core and convinces us to change the way we handle our money.

Fortunately, for us it didn’t take anything that drastic to give us the wake call to get out of debt. I hope it doesn’t for you either. But if you are currently hurting financially, I do hope you will reach the point where you are mad enough at your current situation that you are willing to do whatever it takes to live a different way. Sending in that last payment on the last debt is a wonderful feeling. It’s great knowing that each month most of my income isn’t committed to payments before I have worked a single day. I’m writing this blog in hopes of helping as many people as possible reach that point.

The bottom line is I really believe:

 You will never change
Until the pain of staying
The same is greater than
The pain of change.
– Author Unknown

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