It’s human nature to compare our own situation to those around us, and while we might not think we care, the truth is, we do. How many times has a coworker or neighbor’s purchase of an item prompted us to buy something?
Let me tell you this: When it comes to the call of buying things for the sake of buying them – and going into deep debt for the sake of appearance – but why?
We’ve all got somebody we look up to and try to emulate, but does it really pay off?
No. Not ever.
What it does do is to create a situation where we all start to look the same, sound the same, dress the same, and drive the same thing – all financed at low interest rates that will never let you truly pay it all off.
The point in this is simple: We’re all bombarded daily with marketing designed to get us to buy things and many people are living at the extreme limit of their income budgets. We all saw it last year in the mass layoffs and closed businesses, too.
People who didn’t have even the smallest of cash reserves to weather a few days, much less months.
Now, my point today isn’t about judging someone’s financials, but rather, about helping people to think about what is truly important.
So that brings me to an exercise I’d like you to do today – and maybe, do it tonight with the family around the dinner table.
Take a clean sheet of paper and at the top, write down a 2-3 things as “headers” along the top of the page. These are things that you’d really like – they could be goals, aspirations, and yes, even tangible items.
Now, with the first one, ask yourself “why?” As in, “Why is this important to me?”
Write down your answer.
Now, with that answer, ask “Why?” again – what is it about that answer that makes it a “real” answer in your eyes.
You guessed it. Ask “Why?” again with respect to your second answer.
In my experience, after about 6-8 times of asking the question, you’ll get to your real answer.
Not the reasons you might tell one another, but the REAL reasons.
Let this answer drive your motivations, whether for a new car, a bigger (or smaller) house, or even why you want your kid to go to a certain college or follow a certain career path. And your answer isn’t “right” or “wrong,” but it IS real.
Wouldn’t it be powerful for your son or daughter to know how to drill down into their own minds to see they really don’t want a PS5, they just want to be “cooler” than the kid down the street?
Wouldn’t it be powerful to know you only wanted that big screen to impress your cousin?
Some of you are going to get to the “real” answer much faster, but in my experience, the older you are, the harder it is. What’s important, though, is that you do NOT as a way to escape spending money, but to ensure that the money (and time) you spend is utilized for reasons that truly will make you happy.