Do you have things about your financial status that you don’t like? Do you have things that you would like to change? Would you like more money? Would you like a higher income? Would you like to reduce your debts? Do you want more clients? Would you like to accumulate more assets? Would you like to be in business? I want you take a minute as you read this to think about the circumstances, that if they were different, you believe your life would be better. Now I want you to go back to reality and think about where you actually are today – your income, your debts, the status of your business, your assets etc. Now I need to tell you the truth about your situation; “You are where you are because that is exactly where you have chosen to be”. Yes – it is not where you went to school, it is not your parent’s fault, it is not the economy, it is not your employers fault, it is not your background, it is not your educational qualifications (or lack thereof), it is not the previous or current government’s fault. What you like or don’t like about your financial life at this present time – IT’S YOUR FAULT! Say that aloud. OK if you can’t, read the rest of the article, then come back to that statement and say it. Unless someone held a gun to your head the sum total of your current financial status is constituted of decisions and choices that you have made, hence why you have to take responsibility for it.
Lisa is a nineteen year old who has just finished taking the course that we run. When she joined, she was worth Kes 0 and had no income. By the end of the ten weeks she had acquired chickens and started generating income from selling eggs. In addition, she has started organizing conferences through her university, which are going to give her additional income as well as exposure. I am currently training employees of a particular company and in one of the group assignments, I challenge them to come up with ideas to make a certain amount of money in 5 years. In the last week all groups have come up with different ideas that generate over Kes 30 million in 5 years. I do similar group assignments in the course and recently talked to people who actually went ahead and executed the ideas. Through this Mary and Martin are now buying their third piece of property. Janet who said she has driven all the fancy cars there are to drive only to realise that they don’t count in her journey to financial freedom, has quit her job and is currently constructing her first house. Joe who never thought he would get out of debt, is now making Kes 50,000 shillings extra a month by doing consultancy work and training over the weekend. He will be debt free by the end of the year,
Names have been changed to protect identities but the above stories are all true and there are many more where those came from. These are Kenyans in the same country as you, with the same problems you have. They did not have copious amounts of money to start with nor did they have degrees in chicken rearing, training, and property development. They did not win government tenders. What is the difference between you and them? They became aware and accepted that they were the problem and then started making different choices. It is not some condition on the outside that has to change before your problems are resolved. If you are consciously or subconsciously waiting for something outside to change you will wait forever as the people we have mentioned above continue to cease opportunities on an every day basis. The beauty of accepting that you are the problem is that it gives you the freedom to change the only person or circumstance in the world that you have control over – YOU! When Joe accepted that the accumulation of debts was his fault and his problem – not the school or his relatives – it forced him to think of what HE could do to get out of this debt. The answer was not waiting for a salary increase. It was not his employer’s fault that he got into debt. It was his fault that he made some spending choices that got him in debt. He then decided to use his skills as an accountant to do work for small businesses over the weekend and offer some training. Had he continued thinking that someone else needs to resolve this for him, he would never have see the solution that was right in front of his eyes.
It really is time we get out of the “financial victim mentality”. It is you choosing to give your relatives money that you can’t really afford. You are not a victim of their demands. Moving to the next step financially necessitates a certain level of character growth that can only be achieved by stretching yourself. This growth and upward movement financially is not achieved at your level of comfort. Blaming others keeps you stagnant at your level of comfort. Go back to each of the problems you think you have, and decide to be the solution. Don’t be scared of trying something because you think you will be disappointed or it will not work out. Mary decided to take her salary increase in her own hands and went to the negotiating table armed with facts on her performance. They gave her a bit more but not what she wanted. She was disappointed and hence never tried to negotiate again but simply reverted to accepting what was given. She shouldn’t have stopped. She should have realised the progress in that action, and that she had initiated the process of taking control over her earnings. Had she chosen to learn from that experience (instead of reverting to what was comfortable) she probably would have done better next time. People who live great lives, take the chance on getting disappointed. The experience is always without fail some sort of stepping stone.
So, if you are wearing it, please remove your victim hat and realise you are the solution. Say “ITS YOUR FAULT” out aloud, let the acceptance sink in and even if you cannot see all the way through your problem just take the first step that comes to mind.
Waceke runs a program on personal financial management. Find her at firstname.lastname@example.org|