I recently went to a friend’s home and had the pleasure of reading a book to her 4-year-old granddaughter and I had forgotten how wise these children’s books are. Written by adults for children, but with a message in the story for us all.
The book was called “Days with Frog and Toad,” written by Arnold Lobel. The story starts with Toad waking up one morning and complaining about his messy house and how many jobs he had to do. He exclaims to Frog that he is going back to bed and will do it all tomorrow, saying “today I will take life easy.”
How many of us keep procrastinating about everything we do in our lives today. Not just house-hold chores, but how about furthering our career, going back to school, asking for that raise or promotion; or what about just saving for your retirement and lowering your debt. The problem lies with putting things off more and more when the tomorrow you were waiting for has come and gone so many times.
Wake up folks.
If you keep putting it off, then it’s never going to happen, and the only one you will have to blame is yourself. If you don’t save for retirement, you will have no money to retire on. If you don’t work at paying off your debt and your mortgage, you will always have debt and continue to make exorbitant profits for the banks. If you keep wishing and dreaming about being successful, but take no action or plan to do so, you will always have less than you think you deserve.
Of course, throughout the story, Toad realizes that he will have an enormous amount of work to do by procrastinating and putting everything off till tomorrow so he decides to do one job, then another, then another, until he has completed everything he would have been burdened with the next day. “There,” said Toad. “Now I feel better. I am not in the dumps anymore.” “Why?” asked Frog. “Because I have done all that work,” said Toad. “Now I can save tomorrow for something that I really want to do.” “What is that?” asked Frog. “Now, I can just take life easy” said Toad and he went back to bed.
What if you did this too? Take one job at a time. You will never climb the mountain until you take the first step.
Let’s look at an example, say balancing your budget to live completely on your take-home income. Get a journal, log every purchase and expense and find out where your money is going. Once that is done, create a monthly budget that you can live with and look for ways to lower expenses to pay off your debt. Better still, why not think of ways you can make more money to improve your finances. Should you get a different job? Should you cut out some of the expenses you feel are “necessary” but could really go. Should you downsize to a more “livable” situation. Once you begin, it becomes like a slow-moving train struggling to get out of the station. The more things you accomplish, the more you improve, the faster that train moves toward your goals and future financial freedom.
If you are finding this difficult, and plan on putting it off again – seek professional advice. You can’t know everything. Send me a question and I will help. Speak to an accountant or financial planner at your bank or in your community. If you are not planning and thinking about the future – how can you expect to have one? Don’t let the worry about money or your “to-do list” have a toxic effect on the rest of your life.
Believe you are worth more and pull away from the other procrastinators. The confidence and security of knowing you will be okay at retirement or should an unforeseen tragedy happen is invaluable. It provides you with the power to deal with other life issues. You will be happier, more confident, and more prepared to be successful in all aspect of your life and career.
And of course, then you can say what Toad said: “Now I can take life easy.”
ATML - Christine Ibbotson