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Financial Success Requires Active Decisions

This article was written by in Personal Development. 6 comments.


The bulk of what contributes to financial success, given sufficient opportunity, consists of personal choices. We make choices every day at varying levels of consciousness. I subconsciously choose to wake up every morning, but I consciously choose to get out of bed and drive to work. Each day that I leave work without walking into my boss’s office and offering my resignation is the result of a choice not to quit. That is an easier choice than leaving the corporate world; in fact, it’s almost a non-choice in comparison. If I don’t make a choice, I am waiting for something to happen to me rather because of me, allowing someone else or the situation to make the choice for me.

So it’s one of my personal missions to make more active, conscious decisions in my life. This can be a difficult life change, particularly when I am comfortable. I am comfortable now, and reviewing my history I find there were only a few situations in which I was uncomfortable enough to take action to change my situation.

I only chose to abide by a budget when I had no other choice. The situation made that decision for me. But since then, in the financial aspects of my life, I’ve been able to shift towards active, conscious decisions rather than letting my life be guided externally. And this is the key to helping me to achieve modest stability right now, and perhaps full financial independence in the future.

If you are struggling with money, don’t let things happen to you. Make the choices you can make for yourself or for your family.

Make a conscious decision to spend less money. Start developing a budget. The hardest part is starting, but a budget doesn’t have to be overwhelming. It also doesn’t have to be set in stone. The best budgets are flexible. If you can predict your income, like what you may receive from a steady paycheck, just start by writing your take-home pay at the top of a blank piece of paper. Even if you don’t get past this stage, hanging this number on your refrigerator will remind you that you need to think about the money you spend rather than trust your autopilot.

Make a conscious decision to eliminate expensive habits. Habits are subconscious decisions. You find yourself stopping by the gourmet coffee shop every day because you’ve built that into your routine. Continuing the process is easier than disrupting the status quo. I wasn’t always a fan of The ECRD Factor (sometimes known as The Latte Factor®) because it works only when in complement with smart financial decisions about large purchases, but I do recognize the power of small adjustments when repeated.

Make a conscious decision to exit a bad situation. It’s comfortable working for a bad boss or for a corporation you don’t like. When you are paid decently but steadily, and when you are offered benefits that would be difficult to find elsewhere, it’s easy to feel trapped in an employment relationship. The job market is tough right now, but there might be opportunities out there.

Make a conscious decision to get more education. There are always excuses for not enrolling in a class, and most focus on time, money, and the lack thereof. The choice that needs to be made here is about prioritization. Increase your level of certification, work towards another degree, or just take a class to learn more about something you enjoy. All of these options could help you exit a bad employment situation, as well.

I’ve missed out on so many opportunities just by not taking action. Each time I did, I made a inactive choice to let someone else have more control over my situation than I had myself. I still do this. When I stay in and watch television, I’m making an inactive decision not to go to the gym and sign up for a membership. I’m making the inactive decision not to put on my running shoes and get some exercise outside.

What harmful decisions are you making (or not making) by not taking action?

Published or updated September 14, 2009. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes, also known as Flexo, is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about him and follow Luke Landes on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Craig

Being proactive in your life is usually the only way you will get ahead, learn more, and better yourself for your future. Not just in finances but in all aspects of life. I have taken some of those tips you have mentioned and at a young age have made some active decisions to slowly begin planning for my financial future with what I can afford right now.

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avatar Robert

I think deciding to spend less is easy. However, I think the most difficult part is when the time comes to actually DO it. I don’t know how many times I’ve said to myself “I’m going to spend less,” then a month or two later I’ve continued most of my same habits. Sitting down, writing out a budget and actually taking steps to cut costs is the hardest wall to climb. Once you’re over, though, you feel a lot better about it. I would also recommend starting a savings account and having a portion of your earnings deposited to it directly. Decide how much you need to live on each month, subtract that from your monthly earnings and have the rest automatically transferred to your savings. You can do this through direct deposit at work or through your bank.

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avatar David@DINKS Finance

Here’s my take on it – it’s a hell of a lot easier to just sit on the couch and veg all day. Catch a few movies, some new shoes, maybe come across something interesting. It’s a LOT easier and of course more comfortable.

But at what cost? If you are avoiding reality it’s really not worth it. Instead think about your future. Heck, think about your present. Do you hate your job and know you won’t last ten more years? Looks like you are going to need a big emergency fund in case you take drastic steps like changing your career. Are you setting yourself up for success? Rich people usually aren’t just lucky, they put themselves in a place where it is more likely they will be succesful.

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avatar Ellen @ MoneyLounge.net

A lot of these suggestions involve stepping out of your comfort zone, which is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. Many of us don’t feel comfortable enrolling in college courses again, applying for a new job, or even just getting off the couch each night to do something more than watch reruns. Lately, I’ve read a few good articles about how forcing yourself into new situations can really benefit your personal and financial success. To win the race, you have to train. To get somewhere, you have to push yourself. These are really important things to think about when we are trying to make improvements in our lives: active decision making and pushing our boundaries.
Great article!

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avatar Daniel

I’d add that you can make things even easier if you make your conscious decisions consistent with automatic or unconscious actions too. Set up a monthly automatic withdrawal into an investment account (making a conscious one-time decision so you can put automatic savings on autopilot). Put money into a bond fund or other conservative investment (a conscious decision that generates automatic passive income, again on autopilot). These kinds of decisions are powerful because they help your money work harder but they don’t require a lot of thought once the primary “conscious” decision has been made.

Dan
Casual Kitchen

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avatar Free Your Mind

This is a good post.

Most people are reactive rather than proactive. Being proactive puts things in your control. And like Craig stated, doing that is good in ALL aspects of life. But unfortunately, because people seem to subconsciously believe that someone (parents, kids, government etc… ) will be there to save them when things go crazy, most people choose to do nothing.

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