A few years ago, I decided to go to China to adopt a baby. The trip would take about ten days. I needed a travel companion. I asked a friend of mine who is a seasoned traveler to accompany me. She’d know what food to eat and what not to drink. She had experience in other cultures where English is rarely spoken. She would not be intimidated by traveling in China, as I might be.
She was a successful stockbroker, and I knew that she could afford it. I called her and asked her if she would consider coming with me. Immediately, her reaction was, “No—I can’t—I can’t leave my business for that long . . . I don’t think that would work.”
A week later, she called me back, and broke into tears. She explained, “I asked my business partner (her husband) if I could go. He said, ‘If you want to go, go!’ And then I thought, when I’m sixty-five, what will I say to myself? ‘Oh yeah, I’m really glad I didn’t go to China with Karen because I got to work for two more weeks.’”
She came with me. We had the time of our lives. And the relationship she now has with my daughter is priceless. If there is something you deeply want to do, you can find a way. You can afford it.
When faced with the challenge of a new goal, our immediate reaction is usually, “I haven’t saved for it. I can’t do that.”
Saying you don’t have the money is just an excuse. It’s an easy out. When we say that, we don’t have to confront what it will take to accomplish the goal.
It also lets us off the hook with other people. We know that saying, “I can’t afford it” is a socially acceptable excuse for not going for it. Hopefully, our real friends will see through our objection and tell us, “If you really want it, you’ll find a way. Do it!” And they should—we all need a little prodding occasionally.
Unfortunately, we are all too often polite. We don’t want to make waves around money issues. So the next time a friend tells you that he or she can’t follow a dream because he or she doesn’t have the money—don’t automatically agree!
You have options. If there’s something you really want, do a little brainstorming and make some choices. Maybe you don’t need to get that new living room furniture this year if it means you will be able to take that dream vacation instead. Maybe you don’t have to go out to lunch every day for the next six months if it means being able to take that art class you’ve always wanted to take. Maybe you don’t have to spend $1,000 on presents this holiday season if you can get out of debt instead. Maybe you don’t need to add to your wardrobe this year if you can instead fly your sister in from Baltimore to attend the family reunion.
You have possibilities. But to access them you need to allow yourself to overcome the automatic response that says, “I can’t.”
Instead, try “I can.” If you allow yourself to see your wish as a potential reality, you can begin the constructive process of taking small steps in that direction. You can begin working on the “how,” and begin to remove the obstacles between you and your goal.
Ask yourself, “Six months from now, a year from now, three years from now, what will I wish I had done?” Look at your life right now. What are those things that you are most proud of already having accomplished? The trip to Greece? The 1957 Thunderbird you finally bought? The little independent theater production you helped establish? I bet these were the very things that at first blush you didn’t think you could do because there was not enough money. Yet, you found a way to achieve them. They were goals you chose consciously and pursued successfully.
One should use discretion here. I am not suggesting you go hog-wild pursuing anything and everything you might want. But if it is something very special that calls to you deeply, then find a way to bring it into your life.
In many cases, the financial resources for something you sincerely desire do not materialize until you commit to it. I have seen this countless times in my own life and in the lives of my clients. Doors with resources behind them opened only after the commitment was made.
So go. Do it! Commit! If there’s something you want, say “I can.” Then find a way to make it happen.