Mary starts out as a young, curious little girl who is ready to explore the world.
Then we stick her in preschool and teach her to do as she is told. Follow the rules, do things the “right” way and you’ll succeed.
Then she moves to grade school. More rules. More of doing things in an orderly fashion. And because society has now determined that the only thing a young child needs is to move forward in one way, we take away things like art and music, and fill her days with math and science. It no longer matters for this young child to find what she is good at; we’ll fit her into the mold we’ve deemed important for our society.
Then Mary moves to middle and high school. More of the same. Only now we’re going to test her every chance we get so we can determine if she’s up to par in the areas we want to see the most growth – the areas where the media is reporting we as a nation are always falling behind in.
If Mary was born with a mathematical or scientific mind, she will succeed. But if she wasn’t – if she is a creative soul – no matter how well she does, she will be uncomfortable with the path laid out in front of her.
No matter how far she continues down this path – college, job, even a lifelong career –she’ll always feel like something is wrong within her life.
And at some point, Mary may decide to jump out of the rat race, throw her hands up in the air, and attempt something new. She may do it without the support of those around her, in which they will all think she’s a tiny bit crazy. Or she may have some support, though they really don’t have ideas to support her on her new-founded journey.
Do you know a Mary? Or perhaps you’re a Mary yourself. I meet more “Mary’s” every single day. And based on what I see in the school systems, I think more Mary’s will exist over the next couple of decades.
According to society, something is wrong with Mary. Yet in reality, something is wrong with the way the world exists for Mary’s strengths. We shouldn’t be penalizing Mary for what she’s best at. Instead, we should provide her with the proper support she needs to succeed at whatever she truly wishes to do. We should teach her ways for her to find her strengths and find great ways of building them into a productive lifestyle.
Instead of leaving her to find it on her own, often without support, and through much frustration for her and those around her.
What would make things better for the Mary’s of the world? These are the areas where Mary could take advice and excel.
We don’t teach the important things.
I remember sitting through a checkbook course when I was in grade school. We each received little checkbooks, and we had to make out checks and keep a register so we could balance our accounts. They don’t do that anymore, partially because … checkbooks? Who uses checkbooks anymore? And with everything being online, you can instantly make sure your account is correct at any point in time.
Learning how to make out a check, though, is completely different than money management skills.
We don’t teach kids about good money management. They don’t understand what interest rates are, APR, or how debt can completely overwhelm you. This year as my daughter was getting ready for school, we did allow her to take out one of the small loans they offered – we want her to have some “skin” in the game as she receives her education. In order to approve the loan, she had to go through a course online about debt, how interest rates work, and how this loan would impact her financially in the years to come. It was a class with a lot of information. But why wasn’t this course required as a sophomore in high school before the rush of getting things completed before starting college? Wouldn’t it have been better to have a semester long course to go over the details, than to complete the online course in 30 minutes to try and meet a deadline?
And that should be just the start. How about creating a budget? How about investing? How about saving?
Imagine if you had full training and understanding over financial topics long before you started life on your own. You knew exactly how to navigate the savings and debt world. You knew how to save for a rainy day. You knew how to make your nest egg grow for retirement. You knew how to plan for life’s emergencies when you were laid off for a year, or decided to quit a job to pursue your true life’s passion. Wouldn’t that make more sense in our ever-changing curriculum? Wouldn’t that put today’s kids way ahead of where we are as a general population? And wouldn’t that improve our society down the road, and make us a better nation overall?
We focus in on the wrong things.
We’ve turned into a material society – Madonna said it best when she sang, “we are living in a material world…” But is that something that will carry us forward into the future? How much bigger can our houses get? How many more doodads can we buy? How many more outrageously priced cars do we really want?
Buy. Buy. Buy.
Buying won’t help Mary. In fact, buying is probably what is getting Mary into trouble and preventing her from doing what she really wants to do.
Mary is in a job she doesn’t like, yearning to get out and start her own business. But she just took out a lease for a $500 car payment for the next 36 months. She just moved into a bigger house, which means more furniture, more accessories, more everything. She’s in a better neighborhood, which means her kids need better clothes, better summer camps and better vacations to keep up with the Jonses.
Happiness doesn’t come from things. It comes from focusing on what makes you happy with who you are right now in this place in time.
Media tells you to buy. But is that really what you need to do?
We think life is long.
Remember when you were fresh out of school and looking at life in front of you? Then your best friend dies in a car accident at 28. Or your sister hears the cancer diagnosis at 38. Or your dad dies at 54. All of a sudden life looks almost unbearably short.
We all have said “someday” to something we truly desired. Yet for most of us, that “someday” will never come.
The only way to move forward is to realize how short life truly is.
Why put off until tomorrow when you can do it today?
We deal with it rather than change it.
The boss requires you to come in every Saturday for overtime. You just do it. You don’t question it because you’re afraid of losing your job. But how is that impacting your health? How is it impacting your relationships with your husband or your kids?
The more we get tied up in our own inaction, the more we suffer internally.
What would happen if you said no?
What’s the very worst thing that could happen?
In this case, the worst may be you are fired. What would you do then?
In many cases, we build up our worst-case scenarios to be much bigger than they truly are. We don’t want to rock the boat or do something that will change the delicate structure we’ve built around us.
We react instead of take action.
You knew it was coming. The layoffs started three years ago. First the department to the right of you closed. Then the department to the left. Finally the boss comes in and hands you a pink slip – you have until 2:00 to clear out your desk, with just a couple of weeks severance pay as compensation.
Now panic mode sets in. So you scramble everywhere to cut corners and make everything work for the time being.
But did it have to be this way? Weren’t there warning signs along the way?
You bet. Before the first cut, there were rumors about what was happening. Then the first cut came. And the next.
What if you would have started that business on the side a year ago when rumors were flying? What if you had worked on it just 5 hours a week to get things rolling? Would things be better now?
Every single day we make choices. We can choose to do things the exact same way, assuming change will never take place. Or we can choose to look at where we want to be at some point in the future, and take the necessary steps to turn that into reality.
React to things as they happen. Or take action to make sure things do happen. Both are reality, and both occur every single day. What changes is your approach and how you handle the situations as they present themselves.
Whew. Lots of information here. Do you see any of these in the way you are currently living? What can you do to change?
If planning is your weak point, I invite you to take action today and start with a plan. My 90 Day Intensives are designed to provide you with the ideal roadmap to get your mind working towards solving the biggest problem holding you back from success.