Are you still staring at the price on the gas pump?May 09, 2023
Back in 2007, I drove a car that I really enjoyed, but it was very bad on gas. That was also a season when gas prices were rising dramatically and I was in no position to absorb the expense. At the time, my finances were extremely tight. My wife and I had four young children, our income was very modest, and we hadn’t done a good job preparing for emergency or unforeseen expenses. Whenever I needed to fill my car with gas, I would stare at the price on the pump with absolute dread. The cost I was incurring just to drive was very uncomfortable for me, and because it took so much energy just to meet my basic needs, my ability to dream of bigger things was also hindered.
Fast forward sixteen years and things definitely feel different. It all dawned on me a few months ago. I had just stopped at a gas station, filled my tank, then drove off. A few minutes down the road it occurred to me that I had no idea how much that visit to the gas station cost me. I didn’t look at the pump at all when I was finished fueling up. And even though gas prices continue to rise, my mind isn’t locked in a fearful, reactive spot like it once was. Over the past bunch of years, I’ve learned the value of being proactive, prepared, and forward thinking.
If you listen to my podcasts, read my books, or visit my blog, I’m guessing you’ve also been doing some dreaming. Odds are you’re thinking a lot about what it would look like for you to develop a successful message-based online platform that allows you to communicate your passion while earning a paycheck. That’s a great aspiration, and the content I create is meant to help you get there. But if you’re still staring at the gas pump in dread every time you fill up, the mental energy you’re devoting to your basic needs is going to compete with your ability to dream about bigger things.
For you to get to the next level in what you’re building, you will need to create some “margin” in your life, thinking, and personal finances so you’ll feel comfortable taking the next step. It’s time to make your success an intentional part of your budget.
Investing in your success means making intentional choices to prioritize your personal and professional growth, and I’d like to suggest a few things that can help you get there.
1. Start with your goals. Take some time to get away to a quiet place with a pen and a notebook. Give some dedicated thought to where you’re trying to go next and write out a few specific, measurable goals that align with your values and aspirations.
2. Invest in your learning. We are blessed to live in the information age. Good information is so plentiful to us that it’s easy to overlook it and take it for granted. Identify some podcasts, blogs, and online courses that are produced by people who are several steps ahead of you. Listen to their stories and observe their practices. What did they do to get where they are? If they had to start over again, where would they begin?
3. Trim the fat from your budget so you can allocate resources toward what you want to build. I’m sure that if you looked closely you could find a few unnecessary expenses that can be eliminated. You may even identify a few things that you really enjoy, but could live without. If sacrificing some of these luxuries helps you fund the dream you’re trying to build, you’ll definitely think it was worth it in the long run.
4. Start networking. Surround yourself with people who understand what you’re doing and what you’re dreaming about. Let them speak into your situation, and when you’re with them, make sure you do more listening than speaking. Keep in mind that you’re going to need to allocate time to do this well, so don’t don’t be afraid to purge your current schedule of time-wasters. That will help you find the margin you need on your calendar to spend with others who inspire you.
5. Take some calculated risks. Be willing to step out of your comfort zone and take the kind of risks that can lead to new opportunities and growth. I don’t know if your new idea is going to work and neither do you, and that’s OK. Most people choose to live reactively, but people who take calculated risks are typically the kind of people who understand the value of being proactive.
6. Find a mentor or two. Use some of the financial margin and time margin you create to invest in direct mentorship from people you admire. Sometime when I have paid for mentorship I have been asked, “What do you hope to gain from this experience.” My standard answer is, “I don’t actually know. All I know is that I always learn something helpful and unexpected when I spend time around successful people.”
7. Don’t be afraid to fail. Failure is a natural part of the journey to success. Use setbacks as opportunities to learn and grow. Most of the successful people I know give themselves permission to fail without beating themselves up about it. Most of the unproductive or unsuccessful people I know convince themselves that everything they deliver needs to be perfect on their first try. For that reason, most of them neglect to launch because they use up their time trying to perfect something that hasn’t even been tested. Don’t be afraid of a messy launch. It’s certainly better than never launching at all.
If you’re still staring at the gas pump, I hope you’re ready for the mindset shift that can take your life from reactivity to proactivity. You don’t have to remain a victim to the circumstances that surround you. You actually have the capacity to invest in and help shape your day-to-day circumstances.
It’s time to become proactive, prepared, and forward thinking.
It’s time to make your success an intentional part of your personal budget.
Give yourself permission to start prioritizing your personal and professional growth. That will go a long way toward preventing you from feeling stuck in a rut of inactivity.
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