The first thing that struck me about this article was actually my negative reaction to it. Despite the many Facebook comments commiserating with the woman, I found myself quite indignant at some of her assumptions. (Upon further reflection, I found this rather interesting, considering that I was in a position not that much different from her just a few years ago, and I realized just how much my mindset has changed in that short time period!)
If you are in a similar position to this woman, I hope you will take these observations to heart, and realize that YOU have the power to change your circumstances if you don't like where you're at!
Here are several assumptions that may be keeping you stuck feeling like you're one of the "have-nots" - and what you can do about it:
The first thing that struck me about the article was the overall "victim mentality," or, if you don't like the word "victim," try "poverty mindset." This woman's core assumption is that because of a lack of money, she is unable to take control of any aspect of her life. Not having transportation means it takes her twice as long to get somewhere/accomplish an errand as it does someone with a car. Not having access to healthcare means she must simply suffer through illness, or miss work and that all-important small paycheck. Not having money for a therapist means she can never improve herself. (This last one particularly irritates me - more on this below.)
First of all, having been in a position where I made VERY little money for several years, let me just say that yes, a lack of money definitely makes certain things harder. Having enough money for the things you really need and want is a great blessing. Money makes life easier - there's no doubt about this in my mind!
At least I did have a car, and even at the time, I realized this blessing. I remember driving through a run-down neighborhood in my 15-year-old car, which overheated when I went over 50mph, was covered with rust, and parts of it were literally held together by duct tape and rope, and as I looked out the window, I spotted a man pushing a shopping cart filled with (presumably) all his possessions down the street, and I thought, "to him, I'm rich." But in my tiny, dark apartment, I didn't feel rich at all, as almost every piece of furniture consisted of cardboard boxes, which I "fancied up" by covering them with sheets or pieces of fabric. (Eventually I "upgraded" to various mis-matched pieces of actual furniture salvaged from the dumpster in my apartment complex.) I did have at least one solid meal per day, which I always cooked myself, and which usually included a lot of rice, beans, and pasta. I was living on credit cards, sliding ever deeper into debt.... And I remember feeling very much like the lady who wrote the article - that it wasn't fair that other people had access to all these great things that I didn't, just because they had more money. Poor, poor, me.
But here is where the similarity ends, because I simply could not live like this for long. So I set out on a mission of self improvement.
2. "Self-Improvement Is Not Free."
This, for me, was the most troublesome statement in the whole article. I literally stopped and thought, did she really just say that?? Indeed, she did, after stating that she didn't have the money for a therapist to help her turn her life around.
Self-improvement may not be easy, it may not be quick, and it may not always be fun, but it certainly is (or can be) free - at least in a financial sense. For me, the turn-around took several years, but it started with a book that I borrowed (free) from my boss at the time - Rich Dad, Poor Dad, by Robert Kiyosaki. I was pretty skeptical of his revolutionary theory that I could take control of my own financial situation and grow wealthy, but at the same time I wanted to know more! I checked out other books of Mr. Kiyosaki's from the public library (free), and also borrowed other books about finances, sales, and success. I read another book from my boss' collection, by Zig Ziglar, and found similar ideas - that the key to success lies WITHIN YOU - not outside you. (I still remember one specific sales idea that has stuck with me ever since: "If you help enough other people get what they want, you will get what you want.")
I subscribed to email newsletters galore by some of the most popular success "gurus" at the time - Joe Vitale, Michael Masterson, Robert Allen, Brian Tracy, and more. I waited patiently on my tiny, heavy, slow old laptop that someone at my previous job had given me, for my (free) dial-up internet connection to load, and I read everything I could get my hands on. I started going to church (free), and learning about the inner peace and prosperity that a spiritual connection to God can give you. I started tithing (!), even when I only had a handful of pennies scraped from the side pocket of my wallet to contribute. I got another part-time job at a fast-food restaurant, even though the manager called me "ridiculously overqualified," and for a couple of months, I was on my feet for approximately 15 hours per day. All the while, I read, read, read (and prayed).
And somehow, eventually, my mindset changed, and with it, my life.
I started to believe the words I was reading (at least some of them). I started to be grateful for what I had - and realize that I didn't have to hold onto it quite so tightly. I realized that there were others worse off than me, and I began giving to them where I could. I eventually passed on that old laptop (and my next one) to others who needed them (free), and probably will pass this one on too! I began to see opportunities around me, and eventually left that fast-food job behind and got a much better-paying part-time job, which turned into full-time within a year.
Nearly 10 years later, I now make about twice as much at that job as I did when I started, and I have been saving into my Bank On Yourself policies religiously ever since, so I no longer have to live on credit cards (or really use them at all unless I want to). The last car I purchased was paid for in cash, and my thousands of dollars worth of credit card debt have been long-since paid off.
These changes may look dramatic from the outside, but the more drastic changes happened within. And while they may not have happened overnight, they certainly didn't cost much other than time and dedication. And they don't have to cost you much either, as long as you're willing to put in the effort, and make the change.
Be sure to check back next week for the 3rd assumption that may be keeping you from achieving your potential - this one is a doozy, and it can affect you no matter how much money you make, or how successful you are! (Hint: It has to do with your health....)
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