How to Stay Calmed Down While Staying Tuned InBy
About four years ago, in the midst of the real estate boom, I was advising a friend on her finances as we sat in my office one afternoon. She’s a little older than I am and retired. That’s her dream. No more work.
The problem is she doesn’t have enough money to sustain her life style through decades of retirement.
I said to her, “You need to sell your house and move into something smaller. Then invest the extra to generate income. This will reduce your living expenses as well. Help you get your cash flow in balance.”
She answered, “But this is my dream home. It’s what I’ve always wanted. I just couldn’t sell it.”
“But you’re going to run out of money before you run out of retirement,” I replied. “You’ve got to change something.”
“Oh, it’ll all work out,” she responded. “Something always does.”
She’s racing towards disaster while ignoring reality. Not a good plan.
On the other extreme, I met with a client two years ago in the midst of the stock market crash and recession. He too doesn’t have near enough to last through retirement. He’s hoping to make it through by investing. At least, he’s got a better shot at it and is living within a realistic budget.
As he sat across the desk from me, though, he said, “I think our whole economy is going to collapse. I think even our government may fail. So I’m cashing out before my investments go any lower.”
We had this same conversation a month before so there was no use trying to talk him out of it again. Armageddon was here. There was no convincing him otherwise.
We sold all of his investments two months before the bottom and one of the most spectacular recoveries in stock market history began.
Both made huge mistakes based on irrational decisions. Same problem. Opposite perspectives.
Tim Ferris, in his book The Four Hour Work Week , writes about this situation when he says, “Optimists figure everything is ok so they tend to not do anything constructive. Pessimists figure there is no hope anyway so why try?” (paraphrased)
Interesting observation. Our outlook truly drives what we do.
We’re all bombarded by negative news and seemingly overwhelming challenges.
We all want to live our lives peacefully and productively in the midst. We want success with our finances and lives yet when we are overwhelmed with this negativity it can cause us to shut down.
It’s easy to think, “It’ll all have to work out because I haven’t got a clue what to do.”
Or the opposite, “The threats are too great. I’m gonna bail.”
The problem is nothing gets fixed. The challenges win. We accomplish nothing. Savings remain un-invested. New careers un-tested. Business ventures un-tried.
What’s the answer? How do we keep a grip on reality yet hang tough with our dreams?
A passage in Proverbs addresses this very issue.
“For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.” (Proverbs 1:32-33, NIV)
Wow! That’s exactly what we’re discussing. Running off in a panic or doing nothing out of hopelessness both end up in a ditch. But he gives a third way that leads to success and peace.
This is what helps me stay calm and keep perspective.
I’ve found listening to God involves reading the handbook for successful living he’s already given to me. So many feel the Bible is an old book written thousands of years ago and isn’t relevant for today. Nothing is further from the truth. People are wired up the same as they were from the beginning and we struggle with the same core issues.
Sure the outward expression is different but the inner needs and struggles are the same. So if God wired me up, and I believe he did, then this handbook he gave to explain how to live effectively is the most relevant book there is.
I like to read for ten or fifteen minutes before going to bed each night. At that rate I can read through the entire New Testament every year and a good portion of the Old Testament. I‘m not studying it then. I just read and let it sink in.
I read a modern translation. There are a lot of good ones out there. It takes the language barrier out of the way so I can simply focus on what it’s saying.
This really flows out of trusting God gave his word to guide me in living effectively. Then I read it expectantly. I’m tuned into it like I am when reading a personal development book. I’m searching for wisdom.
And God speaks to my heart through it. I discover answers. I find peace.
In addition, reading it before bed calms me and helps me sleep well. Then it works in my subconscious during the night bringing me insights and building confidence.
This anticipation flows out of the promises that God really does love me. He wants me to prosper and be victorious in my life. There’s nothing outside his power or love. He’s given us his word to guide us into the fullness of the life he promises.
Further on in Proverbs Solomon writes, “He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.” (Proverbs 2: 7-8 NIV).
Pretty cool! Those promises help me remain optimistic while staying tuned in. They create a mindset that gives me courage and unlocks effectiveness.
What about you? What helps you stay calm while staying tuned in?
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