I often encounter people who don’t seem to be in charge of their own lives, or a significant part of their lives at least. The lack of control shows up in different areas. Their health, finances and goals – as well as the logistics of daily life – are chaotic and disorganized. Mistakenly, they feel powerless and sometimes they’re very frustrated with themselves, when in reality, they actually have as much personal power as anyone, although they don’t use it right.
They’re not so unique, though. I think that a lot of people feel this way, to a greater or lesser degree. Most of us know we need to get a handle on something, even if we still let it slide. What a lot of people don’t realize is how much better it would be if they took the step to get on top of these things and manage them right.
I learned about this from a situation I got myself into a number of years ago. At the time, I was not taking charge of my finances, and got into debt. I had money to pay my bills, but lack of discipline led to overspending. Lack of oversight meant that bills came due without my realizing it. When one bill came in, it joined the others in a disorganized heap and waited for attention.
I was pretty oblivious to how chaotic this was until I decided to track my debt balances on a monthly basis. It became clear that frivolous spending, late fees and overdraft charges were making progress on my debts impossible. Clearly this couldn’t go on, so I had to start tracking my expenses and making sure those bills got paid on time. In short order, my debt balances started to come down.
I was surprised how much difference this made. I actually started to enjoy paying my bills. My friends thought that was strange, but each bill paid made me feel more debt free. Just the sense of being on top of this one area of my life and not always coming from behind to catch up with some problem I created (like late notices, late fees and overextended credit limits) brought my stress level down. It was genuinely liberating just knowing that I had it under control and was not being surprised by problems I should have anticipated but which I overlooked.
Only in retrospect was I fully aware of how heavy the burden of my debts had been. My avoidance and procrastination upped my stress level more than I had let myself be aware of. I was frustrated and angry with myself for the way I was running my life. It never occurred to me how much better I would feel by making a relatively simple change.
What about you? Are there areas of your life, big or little, that you’re not on top of? What can you take charge of to make your life easier?