Ahh, 80s pop rock. So synth-y, such big hair. One of my all-time favorite acts was one of these bands, Roxette. I can still remember going to the mall when I was in sixth grade and purchasing Joyride on cassette (!!!); the summer following that purchase, I about wore out that cassette tape, rewinding and replaying my favorite songs on my bright yellow Sony Walkman. I’m pretty sure I still have that cassette lying around somewhere…probably next to my Ace of Base cassette. But I digress…
The Roxette song that came to mind when I was thinking about what I wanted to write in this post was not from Joyride, but from their earlier album Look Sharp! – “Listen to Your Heart”. Okay, okay, I know this song is about love and romance, not personal finance…but the principles still apply! Isn’t the guiding notion in our instant-gratification-driven culture today eerily similar to the chorus line? We have to have the latest version of the iPhone as soon as it comes out, our old version was running so slow…and we agree to make monthly payments on that shiny new phone for two years to be able to afford it. We had a rough week, so a little retail therapy is in order, right? Just listen to your heart when it comes to what you really need right now…it doesn’t matter if you can’t afford it, that’s what credit cards are for. Aren’t they?
This duality that exists in all of us can be seen in many facets of life; we want to achieve our weight loss goals, financial freedom, even a loving, lasting relationship with our partner or spouse. But often, we sacrifice our long-term goals for short-term “feel-good vibes”. That slice of cake is more enticing than continuing to lose weight or lean out; the new outfit from your favorite store or the latest tech gadget that everyone is raving about is more important that continuing to save up or possibly pay off existing debt. And sadly, a moment’s worth of fun and flirtation can even ruin a committed relationship. These issues are all the same; they just vary by degree and severity. We lost sight of our long term goals because our emotions overpowered our logic and reasoning.
Dave Ramsey has famously quoted time and again through the years, “Children do what feels good. Adults devise a plan and follow it.” I’m not saying it’s an easy task; in fact, when you’re just getting started, developing the habit to delay pleasure for the long term reward is HARD. It’s almost as if you have a muscle, a discipline muscle, in whatever area of your life you’re trying to better yourself in, and because you’ve never used that muscle before, it’s weak and atrophied. It doesn’t want to do the hard work. However, if you commit to doing the hard work, that muscle gets stronger, and used to working hard. You’ll find it easier to say no to things you once caved in to. Sacrifice and listening to your head (as opposed to your heart) start to become a habit. IT’s easier to say no, because you’ve got your eyes on the endgame, and that makes missing out on current fun/spending/etc. worth it.
What’s one area in your life, financial or otherwise, that you want to start building muscle in today?