Take a look at the following and see if you can answer what they all have in common.
- Members of the City Council of Detroit blaming the state of Michigan for revenue shortfalls that have left the city with several hundred million dollars of budget deficits.
- The Republicans in Congress blaming their Democratic counterparts across the aisle (or in the Oval Office) for having waited until the last minute to avert the end-of-year Fiscal Cliff disaster which, as I predicted, would drag out until the very last minute.
- A girl (or guy) who seems to date only losers blaming their ex's for their failed dating life.
- A person with massive amounts of debt blaming the institutions which provided them the debt.
In all of these cases, I hope that the common theme is this: Excuses.
The problems aren't actually being addressed, but instead the people involved are pointing fingers, assigning blame, and making excuses.
What aren't they doing? Well, they aren't taking the responsibility for the problems in question at all. They are shouldering none of the blame for the predicament that they're in.
The political excuse merry-go-round
The City of Detroit is seen as an absolute mess by just about everybody. While there are some great things going on in the city, and there are a few who are pouring millions of dollars into the revitalization of key areas, the fact is that most of the world, and even us folks close to the city still see a big lack of progress, and for those closer, it's perfectly obvious that the lack of progress has to do mostly with a city council who points their fingers at the mayor and the state, a mayor who blames the city council and the state, and a state government who pretty much is afraid to get anywhere near the rat's nest, but at some point will have no choice.
All the while things make no progress toward getting things resolved. Streetlights stay out, people keep getting murdered, houses keep burning down, and once proud neighborhoods fall into further decline every single day. The fundamental truth is that these things happen because nobody accepts responsibility, but instead just plays blame. The great things that are happening downtown and in parts of the city will continue to be dwarfed by the problems until such time as someone accepts the responsibility at which time they will become more empowered and more engaged to take action!
It sounds so simple, yet the blame game gets worse and worse every year, it seems.
The bad-luck dating friend
Everybody who is at or recently part of the ‘dating scene' has a friend who does nothing but complain about the problems that they've had with their dating life. From dating loser after loser to not being able to get past a good first date, or getting no calls back from people that they thought they hit it off with, everybody knows one of these people, right?
(Hint: If you're single and you don't know one of these people, there's a good chance you might just be that person!)
Time after time, you hear these people complain, and I know you burn on the inside, wanting to scream:
“It's YOU! You're the one that keeps dating the same losers. You keep turning away the nice people and dating the bad boy/girl, so what do you expect?!?”
Sound familiar? Again, it's a case of the person not taking responsibility for the position that they're in. They prefer to make excuses and deflect the problems onto someone else.
Making excuses instead of money
Making excuses happens all the time in government and in relationships, but it also happens way too often when it comes to your money. Any of the following sound familiar:
- I'm in debt because my credit card companies kept raising my limit.
- I am not saving enough because I didn't get a raise last year
- I lost money in the market because my adviser told me to buy this fund that later tanked
I'm sure there are a million of them.
The truth is that, again, they boil down to the idea that people are willing to blame others and make excuses for problems that they have with their financial situation. Whether it's getting a handle on their debt, or not making money that they feel they want, having a strong investment portfolio, all too often people are willing to deflect the blame. This in turn, leads to a huge problem.
Nobody else cares. See, the number one problem that making excuses leads to is that nobody else but you really gives a darn about the problems you have. Sure, close family and maybe really close friends will care, but even then, nobody cares as much as you do. In many cases, people that you complain to, they don't care at all!
Which leads to inaction. Making excuses and placing blame leads to inaction, and since nobody else cares as much as you do about your money, progress is stalled.
Only you can do something about it. The only person that can truly make changes to your finances is you. As it should be! After all, you're the one that cares the most about your money. Not your boss. Not your friends. Not your financial adviser. Not even your family. You and you alone have the most at stakes when it comes to your money. It's time to realize this!
Kick yourself in the pants! Once you've accepted that you are the one who cares (or should care) the most about your finances, this should excite you to get going. Give yourself a kick in the rear and get going!
Take stock. Many times, people don't want to know where they're at. They go through day by day watching their credit card balance creep up but they figure by not knowing, they can put off the problem. That ends today! You have to take a baseline of where you are and only then can you start making progress.
Accept responsibility. No matter what happened or who you might think helped you along to your money issues, wipe it aside. Take responsibility. Take ownership.
Make a plan. After you spend some time understanding where your money problems stand, it's time to put together a plan on what you want to do about it. The bad news is that you might never have done this before. The good news is that's OK! You don't have to create a full plan. Even if your plan is just a couple of steps of things you can do and changes you can make, that's perfectly fine! In fact, if you are really just getting started for the first time, this is actually preferable.
Celebrate achievements. If you make a small milestones, celebrate them.
Keep planning. After you hit a couple of your small achievements, plan the next ones. This time, you might find that you can look further ahead. Keep repeating this and guess what? It will get easier. You'll find that you'll make progress. You'll get a clear head. You'll put more effort into tackling your issues simply because you now have taken full ownership.
You'll get things under control!
All because you stopped making excuses and took control!