“We work from urgency more often than from future planning.”
That’s the sentence I read this weekend from one of the newsletters to which I subscribe. And it stopped me in my tracks – like one of those, “That’s it!” kind of moments.
Although I’ve explored the paradox of what’s necessary vs. what’s urgent before, something about those ten words resonated with me in a different way. I read it as a challenge-in-the-form-of-a-statement: To what extent do you mostly focus on what’s right in front of you?
I also read it as a reflection of a mindset that possibly explained the behavior of a new client that, quite honestly, has me perplexed. She reached out to me in early September because she was ready to make some long overdue changes. She clearly articulated her goals and why now is the right time to focus on and take control of her money.
Yet, weeks later and we haven’t had our first session. She’s cancelled two appointments saying she needs more time to gather her financial materials and to complete the questionnaire I ask of all my coaching clients. Hmm…
Even for my most disorganized clients, it doesn’t usually take them more than three to four hours to pull everything together. So, I couldn’t quite understand what was blocking her. “We work from urgency more often than from future planning” gave me a clue, and it made me wonder about what inspires us all to follow-thru on the changes we say we want to make.
When it comes to you and your money, what inspires you to change your circumstances?
Is it a nagging pressure you’re looking to resolve? Or, is it your desire to proactively design your future?
Though posed as either/or questions, in truth you probably do a combination of both at various times. But I bet it’s safe to say you lean more toward letting what’s important to you right now drive the decisions you make and the actions you take.
Urgent Now vs. A Better Way
But here’s where things get a little tricky:
When it comes to money, how do you define urgent?
Is something urgent because you’re struggling, financially?
Is it urgent because addressing some aspect of your money has been on your to-do list a long time?
Is it urgent because someone told you it’s urgent?
Is something urgent because you’ve had a major lifestyle change?
Really…pause here a moment and think about the hierarchy of things in your life: What makes something urgent?
What I’ve noticed is that something can be urgent, but if it isn’t also causing too much pain, it’s easy to defer taking action.
Operating more often from a sense of urgency is not only a matter of attitude, but it’s a matter of priority. Oddly enough, for something that impacts almost every aspect of one’s life, I encounter many people who use urgency as their primary method for managing their money.
And it drives me crazy! Because it doesn’t take much more effort to balance urgency with being future-oriented. Or, to get better end results.
In my client’s case, her urgency to make progress on her to-do list is what prompted her to reach out. But, thus far, it hasn’t been enough to get her to complete the next step.
That’s the conundrum of urgency vs. future planning. What you have gets in the way of what you want. And it’s a quandary you and I must diligently and proactively manage.
Luckily, there’s a pretty straightforward way to tackle what is probably more of a timing problem and less of a money one. It just requires a small adjustment on your part in terms of your attitude, the discipline you practice and how you prioritize.
One way to get started is to get clear about the financial component of your goals. The best way to do this is to go beyond the exercise of goal setting to a practice I call goal mapping.
Goal mapping is a six-stage, step-by-step process that helps you profile each of your goals so that you can create a savings strategy for each of them. It’s exactly what will help you move beyond using urgency as a method for managing your money because you’re stuck in the mode of addressing what’s right in front of you.
If you’ve been using urgency as your financial plan and you’re open to a better alternative, grab your copy of “Feed the Meter: A Simple Guide to Give Your Dreams, Desires and Goals the Money They Need!”
p.p.s. If the “Worst Place to Manage Your Money is Your Head,” then the next worst thing is to continually operate in urgency mode. For $20 you can change your ways and get better results; grab your copy of Feed the Meter: A Simply Guide to Give Your Dreams, Desires and Goals the Money They Need!