To reach your most important financial goals, you need a sense of urgency.
When we’re young, we think we have all the time in the world, so we’re prone to procrastination. As we get older, our sense of urgency develops naturally, but can lead to stress and anxiety.
Developing a positive, healthy sense of urgency can help us get where we want to go with money. That’s what I want to help you do.
To frame our conversation, I wanted to share this wonderful poem entitled, “The Bank of Time:”
Imagine there is a bank that credits your account each morning with $86,400.
It carries over no balance from day to day.
Every evening deletes whatever part of the balance you failed to use during the day.
What would you do? Draw out every cent, of course!
Each of us has such a bank. It’s name is TIME.
Every morning, it credits you with 86,400 seconds.
Every night it writes off, as lost, whatever of this you have failed to invest to good purpose.
It carries over no balance.
It allows no overdraft.
Each day it opens a new account for you.
Each night it burns the remains of the day.
If you fail to use the day’s deposits, the loss is yours.
There is no going back. There is no drawing against the “tomorrow”.
You must live in the present on today’s deposits.
Invest it so as to get from it the utmost in health, happiness and success!
The clock is running. Make the most of today.
To realize the value of ONE YEAR, ask a student who failed a grade.
To realize the value of ONE MONTH, ask a mother who gave birth to a pre-mature baby.
To realize the value of ONE WEEK, ask the editor of a weekly newspaper.
To realize the value of ONE DAY, ask a daily wage laborer with kids to feed.
To realize the value of ONE HOUR, ask the lovers who are waiting to meet.
To realize the value of ONE MINUTE, ask a person who missed the train.
To realize the value of ONE SECOND, ask a person who just avoided an accident.
To realize the value of ONE MILLI-SECOND, ask the person who won a silver medal in the Olympics.
Treasure every moment that you have! And treasure it more because you shared it with someone special, special enough to spend your time.
And remember that time waits for no one.
Yesterday is history.
Tomorrow a mystery.
Today is a gift.
That’s why it’s called the present!
As a financial advisor, I’ve been helping people develop a healthy sense of urgency for over 20 years. I’m honored to be named to Investopedia’s list of the top 100 financial advisors many years running.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- You have time
- Embracing Parkinson’s Law
- Being a good steward
- How to do it
Let’s get started.
You have time
You have enough time to do most everything you want, but not enough time to waste.
Money has time value. This means the earlier you start saving and investing, the easier it is to reach your important financial goals and objectives. The longer you wait, the harder it becomes. Put another way, if you save for retirement at 25, you need to save a lot less than if you started at 50. One reason for this is compound interest.
Compound interest is powerful because you get interest on the initial sum of money you’ve invested, as well as the interest you’ve accumulated; you get interest on your interest. It’s so powerful, Einstein famously described it as the “8th wonder of the world,” continuing, “he who understands it, earns it; he who doesn’t pays for it.” The earlier we put it to work for us, the greater benefit we’ll receive from it.
Wherever you are in life, a sense of urgency can benefit you. But you need to be mindful to ensure it’s a force for good in your life.
Urgency commonly leads to one of two things; enthusiasm or anxiety. Enthusiasm is a healthy catalyst, anxiety is a dangerous disincentive.
You’ve no doubt heard Emerson’s famous quote, “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” When we approach a task like getting out of debt or becoming an investor with enthusiasm, we’re more apt to follow through on the goals we’ve set for ourselves, and to jump into the work.
Anxiety leads to procrastination, and there are fewer things worse than procrastination when it comes to personal finance. When we procrastinate, nothing happens and nothing is created. With money, we’re not working to get out of debt, and we’re not saving and investing. When we feel like we’re behind financially, it leads to anxiety, which leads to inaction, which perpetuates the vicious cycle.
Cultivating your sense of urgency and focusing on being enthusiastic about your personal finances is the proper mindset for success.
Embracing Parkinson’s Law
Have you ever known anyone who always seems to be late and running around like their hair is on fire? That person is living by pressure, not priority. In our busy lives, the key to getting everything we want done is to live by priority, not pressure. Understanding Parkinson’s Law helps to do that.
Parkinson’s Law tells us that work will expand or contract to fill the time available for its completion. To understand how it works, think about your morning routine. No doubt you get ready and do the same things every day. But what happens when you oversleep? Do you cut things out, or do you simply do all of them faster? Odds are, when confronted with a shorter deadline, you increase your sense of urgency and get everything done faster. This is true for every aspect of life.
Understanding this Law and putting it to work in your life will help you live by priority instead of pressure.
Being a good steward
When you approach your finances with a sense of urgency, it helps you to be a better steward. Knowing you don’t have money to waste, you’ll work to maximize what you spend it on.
Every time we choose to allocate money to something, we’re choosing to not allocate it somewhere else. When we’re more intentional about our financial decisions, it helps us to prioritize and make better choices.
A positive byproduct is you’ll also pay closer attention to how you’re using your other important and finite resources of time and attention.
How to do it
While I don’t know you personally, I’m comfortable assuming you’re capable of a lot. To maximize your potential, give yourself short deadlines and high expectations. Doing this with each of your goals and objectives will help to create a sense of urgency around them.
The first step is getting clear about what you want. You need to set goals, make plans for achieving them, and get to work. In service of helping you do it, you can access our Goals course for free. Your goals help you to create the future you desire. The next step is clarifying your values.
Goals determine where you’re going. Your values are how you get there. No doubt, you’ve already got values. But have you written them down? When was the last time you thought about them? To help you clarify yours, you can also access our Values course for free.
Your goals and values will help you to successfully prioritize your spending, saving, and investing. They’ll guide your decision making and act as a framework for your decision making. From there, it’s important to factor in your time horizon.
We need money today, 10 years from now, and 30 years from now. Each of your financial goals must have a plan for its completion and a deadline. When we put deadlines on our goals, it’s automatically creates a sense of urgency.
Work to find the sweet spot. You don’t want your deadline to be so far away that you reduce the urgency, and you don’t want to set it so close that there’s no way you’ll be able to meet it. Given the choice, I’d rather be more aggressive in setting my deadline than conservative.
Having a healthy sense of urgency and working enthusiastically towards your goals will help get where you want to go.
Finally, I’ll leave you with this blessing: Life is short, and we have little time to gladden the hearts of those we meet along the way. So be swift to love, swifter still to forgive, and make haste to be kind.
When is the right time for you to get started? Now. Your time is now. Get started.
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