Most of us have goals around personal finance, even if they are not written down. A fundamental goal for many of us may be to live a comfortable life by having enough money to cover our basic needs. A higher level goal may be to generate enough income to be able to enjoy some “wants” from time to time, like a nice vacation or a fancy dinner for a special occasion. A top-level goal may be to reach financial independence so we can enjoy the freedom of choice when it comes to our extremely precious asset of time.
A lot of you are young. And when we’re young, we tend to think of some life goals as far out in the distance. Far enough away that we don’t need to focus on them right now in the present. We think that when the time comes, we’ll take care of it then.
The skill of managing our money is a frequent victim of this philosophy. When most are young they don’t like to “waste” time learning about money; there are too many fun things to do.
But you need to start educating yourself on personal finance topics NOW. Not in 5 years. Not in 10 years. NOW.
Let’s look at a great analogy that was given so eloquently by a former Miss America, Deshauna Barber.
Deshauna started competing in beauty pageants when she was 17. She lost her first six competitions. But on the seventh, she won Miss District of Columbia. She went on to win Miss America and compete in the Miss Universe pageant.
She gave a speech at Virginia State University in 2017. Here is a passage from that speech:
I don’t think I really challenged myself to really stick anything through until I joined the track team in middle school. I remember having to ask my mom after tryouts and making it to the team for my very first pair of track shoes.
Now at the time, she walks into our house, and she has a bag that has a nice Nike [logo] on it, so I get excited because I wasn’t getting new shoes very often. I go to take the shoe box out of the bag, and I notice that it says a size 9 on it. Mind you, in the 7th grade I was a size 5.
I open the box, and I slide my feet into the shoe, and I look at my mother, and I said, “These shoes are too big.”
She said, “I know, I did that on purpose.”
I said, “Why would you buy shoes that are too big on purpose, mom?”
And she says, “Because I know that you’re going to grow into them.”
Coach has us line up on the starting line, and he wants us to run a lap around the track. As we go to take off, I immediately fall to the ground [and] twist my ankle because the shoes are entirely too big. See, I couldn’t run at the speed I wanted to, because I didn’t fit the shoes I was wearing at the time.
Now many of us have goals we’re trying to achieve, but the person we are right now is not the person that we need to be when we cross the finish line to our dreams. So we must walk and pace ourselves on this journey to our goals because we haven’t grown enough in ourselves to fit the shoes that we need to achieve our aspirations.
But let me tell you something, if I had won Miss USA my very first year, I would not have been Miss USA. I would not have been the version of myself that I needed to be to properly handle a national title.
Many of us aren’t ready to [run] the race. But understand that as we walk this race, we pace ourselves.
And as we pace ourselves, we grow.
And as we grow, our foot gets bigger.
And as our foot gets bigger, our shoes begin to fill.
And as our shoes begin to fill, we can now run a little bit faster.
And as we pick up the pace, we get to the finish line at the exact time we are destined to cross it.
– Deshauna Barber
If you want to cross the finish line of “financial independence” or be able to make intelligent financial decisions, then you need to start filling your shoes NOW. You must start walking NOW by reading, listening, and learning. Soon after, you will need to start jogging by acquiring and practicing the skills of managing your money. After that, you will begin running and eventually cross the finish line in an all-out sprint.
You cannot cross the finish line without first walking in your oversized shoes, slowly growing into them until you’re ready for your moment of success.
Best of luck to you in your race to your goals.