- Personal Finance
Removing the Albatross and Getting Back The PMA
Religion and non-religious Actions for Freedom
As a Christian I first look to prayer and forgiveness to find relief and direction. I also believe I need to be willing to take physical action in some cases that require it. An example may be that I don't have enough energy, probably because I'm out of shape. I can pray about it, and hopefully get some motivation somewhere that gets me off the sofa and moving around a bit. My point is there is action that is needed by the one wanting to lift, or have lifted, that weight of something holding them down.
I don't know if some great philosopher once stated this in some other context, but the question of "how do you eat an elephant?" is answered simply as "one bite at a time." Taking that to the idea of different sources of albatross weights, I believe the first bite is breaking the problem down into more manageable and identifiable parts. If we consider where life pressures can come from, we should be able to group them into one of the following, each with a specific path to release.
- Sins - religious infractions identified by our own religious beliefs that have their own prescription for rectifying. I know many will just say I can stop here, everything is covered. Probably so, but remember, I'm breaking problems down to levels we can approach for resolution.
- Financial Obligations - sure, each of the next few groups will probably be covered in some way by the first but we are trying to break out some additional concepts and money, or the love of it, can lead to some heavy weights.
- Time Sharing - balancing commitments to family, jobs, religion, and finding time for relaxation and rejuvenation.
- Physical and Health concerns and Health Issues - not equally doled out for sure, it is up to the individual, or in some cases their family, how these items are approached and what the outcome is.
- Relationships - within and beyond families and family members, sometimes there are things we get ourselves into that need to be addressed.
- Basic Necessities - sometimes we forget what we need and what we want. Some people live day to day attempting to meet their own and their family needs and have no time for wants.
I'm certain we could probably break out even more groups, but let's see if we can make this work.
Pressures Beyond My Control
Here is a basic example of perspective of a problem:
If the economy of my city, county, state or country tanks, I can't do much about that as an individual. Not caring about that may make me feel better, just staying detached. Adopting an attitude of que sera sera - whatever will be will be - may relax some anxiety in some folks. But it isn't very helpful in someone used to making things happen not waiting on things to happen.
Take it to your local school. The school needs new picnic and playground equipment. The first option may be to petition your local school board for funding but in the current state of affairs the likely response is "would you rather have electricity or new playground equipment at the school?" The QSS person will just accept that nothing can be done and accept what comes. Then there is the action oriented person that says something needs to be done.
The taxing authority of the School Board may allow them to siphon off taxes from a greater population than just the parents of that school, but the general population has less interest in the kids at that school than the parents of those children. So bring it where the action is likely to have the biggest impact, the parents of the school kids. Have a fund raiser, identify what the fund raiser is for and why. Invite the kids, their parents - and by all means - grandparents, aunts and uncles. The association will feed on the need and it gets solved by the common need being pointed out.
How does that work on individual needs? How can you apply that to a personal situation where there is a burden, not necessarily financial, that needs some action? Of course where I started, there is time for personal reflection or in my case prayer. I look for guidance and the individual needs to look within to see what the problem really is and where the pressure to resolve it is coming from. Looking directly at the problem often removes some of the unknowns, which are usually the ones causing the most stress. Identifying and analysis of the unknowns is critical. See what can be identified. Explore the problems, whatever they are, to see if what you think is going to result could actually come out differently.
Defined by your own religion or religious beliefs, sins are by definition humans falling short of purity of the heart or mind or soul. Also defined by religion, relief of these sins may come through different actions of the sinner.
Everyone has their take, often different from others even within the same religion, as to what qualifies as a sin, and what is required of the sinner for atonement, if anything. One question important for the analysis is what is the intention of the sinner? Important to understand one can "break a law" of a church unintentionally....a car accident where someone else is unintentionally killed may break the Commandment of Thou Shalt Not Kill. The intention of the person who committed the act surely wasn't to kill anyone, but it happened. There can be quite a burden on the sinner here and helping them find a way to lift off the burden is huge.
Even the intentional sinner, maybe from the aspect of coveting a neighbor's wife or stealing something, may find an inner voice telling them they have done something wrong and the person can feel pressure to try to come clean eventually. Helping someone to find that route to freedom is a powerful action.
In the U.S. the school systems spend a great deal of time teaching reading, writing and arithmetic; but almost no time is spent on financial planning, budgeting, or living within your means. As a result, one of the - if not THE largest problems young and old in the U.S. have are financial problems. Sure, not discovering the difference between want and need at an early enough age is a part of that, but not all of the problem.
We all make mistakes. Not planning enough in advance of an issue or having unexpected expenses can cause great hardships on people. It isn't anything new and isn't limited to one class of people or another. There area dozens of actions taken that lead to financial problems, and few actions can bend the curve back to solvency. How does someone ever get back to security and confidence if they have ever swerved off the road of good intentions?
Of course the best answer is not to swerve in the first place. Anyone at any time can be provided with unforeseen challenges. Sure, the fan belt breaks on the car leading to an unexpected $200 repair bill is one thing. The company you work for going out of business unexpectedly and not providing you with this month's pay at the end of the month is quite another - particularly when there are no other job prospects close by. Or maybe the government decides you need a new tax and it is imposed retroactively.
Preparing from day one is the best answer. Some parents will teach their children to live within their means. Going back one step, some religions provide 10% will be tithed to the church and you must live on 90% - of course the government gets their cut too. What if you set your lifestyle from day one to live on no more than 50% of your net income? Where would anyone be after the first 20 years with a lifestyle like that? The truth is, that person could be quite wealthy even with a meager income for the whole 20 years.
I have known a lot of very successful people. Almost all of them were very good at what they did and worked very hard, or at least very smart, at what they did to achieve their success. The difference between the ones that made it to the top of their game AND found happiness and the others who finally killed the beast and conquered their foes was knowing how to share time. If you value anything in life, time should be very close to the highest point! There currently are no ways to regain time. Money, it comes back. Fame, it comes back. Time, a moment, a life, all limited and final. So how do you value time?
The point here is if you do kill the dragon but didn't get to see your kid's football game, who cares. Sure, sometimes that just happens - doctors are on call, mechanics get calls too. Sales babes and dudes are road warriors and end up masters of missing things. There is value in making the attempt NOT to miss though. If you do this enough, you will have your share of the wins. Sometimes you have to figure out is it better to miss practice so you can see the games, or sometimes you have to come to practice because there is no way you will actually make it to the game. But recognizing the need to be there - so be there.
Take a moment, think back to see if there are any memories you have of different times in your own life, happy memories. Let's see if you can be selective, maybe it was the time your grandmother took you to the horse barn or grandfather took you golfing. Maybe time spent with a brother or cousin that always ended up fun or sometimes funny.
Now look at your family. Are they having those kinds of moments? Will your children be able to look back 20 years from now and remember the times you showed up or took them to the movies? Will your daughter remember how you taught her to change a fan belt or your son how to tie on a fish hook? Maybe how to choose the right seat in a theater is more likely, but at least something.
How are you handling your time at work? I know some sales folks that overdo the freedom thing they have and end up playing way too much. It may involve their kids or family, or maybe golf, fishing, hunting, drinking, football or other sports, shopping or just not working. They won't make it to the top, and they won't gain on the use of their time. Ok, it isn't just salespeople, it is managers at all levels. Always finding a seminar to go away to or a study that needs to be done in a far off location where no one can watch on purpose. What is the real gain, or is it really all just time lost.
Time sharing can be quite a burden on people being honest with what they have and what they want for their families. Actually taking action to make changes to improve the process in the future can remove the weight or prevent it in the future.
Physical and Health Concerns
You play the hand you are dealt, right? I am always amazed at how some people are capable of overcoming unbelievable odds and challenges to lead a better life. Where does that come from? Some of our military heroes are coming home less complete than they were when they left for war - yet with prosthetics and training, many of them are facing life and refusing to be beaten. Not every one of them will make it to the level of the others. Where does the ability to remove that weight off their shoulders come from - to see what could be and not settle for what is? It isn't limited just to military people. If it were, we could easily assume someone trains these warriors to just assume this may happens so be ready and accept it.
The truth is I have family that work with children that you may consider burdened with all kinds of maladies, physical, mental or a combination. The kids can have an attitude of recognizing how bad they have it and never do anything or they say dang, how do I do this? At that point they need to have that person who will be there for them to encourage them to achieve. It takes a special person to have the patience and insight to provide that support.
Individuals wake up one day with a diagnosis from a doctor that they are either going to die or be up for a fight against a terrible foe such as some kind of cancer or other debilitating disease. Some receive the news as a weight that crushes their spirit. Others I have known seem to have whatever weight had held them in their place prior removed and they explode with new vitality.
Car accidents happen, people slip and fall, all of us start out with the idea that one day we will get old. How we face the issues that will come from all of these is a challenge to our character.
I'm interested in seeing how we can make everyone more positive in our approach to living.
If you have a colleague at work, for example, that you are aware of doing something untoward. You know they need to come clean but they won't do so on their own. Just knowing about it puts some burden on you. Do the analysis of the problem. Ask some questions about the problem before taking action. Is it any of your business and if so to what level? Does it affect anyone in any way beyond just being a secret? Is safety involved? Are there legal issues? Who else knows? If you went to the colleague and brought it up, what would their response be?
First action items are always safety and legality. If you are aware of something that affects others safety or in a legal issue, please do not keep your trap shut. Approach your colleague and let them know either they bring it forward or you will and why. If you fear retribution from the colleague it is incumbent on you to take this to your superiors immediately. Know this however, it could be that your colleague has already done so and didn't tell you. So when approaching your boss about the problem, do so with kid gloves - ask the boss if they are aware of the issue to bring it forward. If they say no, ask if you can explain further and get the information on the record. If they say yes, and no action has been taken to remove the problem - whether it is a safety or legal issue - be prepared for push-back. If this boss tells you to back off or ignore the problem you must dig deep and find the strength to go over their head in writing. DO NOT go over their head verbally. If you lose your job over doing the right thing, first that was probably not a place you should have been working, but second you will want to have the written information you provided if you choose to sue them for your job back. They know that so being in writing is the only way to go over your bosses head.
When the Great Depression hit the United States the crime rate in the country remained pretty much the same. Poor people didn't immediately go all thug and start stealing just because they were bored. More likely they would throw in together to help someone who was down on their luck, sharing what little they had to improve a friends lot. Can you imagine leaving your doors and windows unlocked because you were so poor someone breaking in would have to bring something with them to have something to steal? I heard that growing up - along with "my parents were in the iron and steel business...mom ironed and my dad would steal." Wow, LOL, right? But it was a joke, born out of the depression.
How did the people of the day handle the burden? I've had the blessing to have spoken with many people who lived through the Great Depression. To a person, they didn't worry about what they didn't have, they literally offered praise to their God for the food, clothing and housing they did have, no matter how meager.
That was then, this is now. We have a new financial earthquake. Getting swallowed up in it there are people from all walks of life feeling the pinch of the economy. The government is involving itself in ways never seen before. International, ecological, financial and even religious challenges are more apparent than ever before. To some extent due to the availability of information being so available and to some extent the ability to get from point a to point b in a matter of minutes or hours instead of days or weeks. But in this financial downturn crime is increased. What changed? Basic necessities are much easier covered today over the 30's. So what is it? Expectations of the people to get something free? And if they don't get it free they can just take it - with no expectations of repercussion. I believe there has actually been a loss of guilt, a reduction in character and a lowering of the values in general of the population.
So without the possibility of an albatross, no guilt, how do we get back to valuing the things of value. I want to hear from you.