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September 28, 2002

What's Going for You?

So if you feel that you are defeated and have lost confidence in your ability to win, sit down, take a piece of paper, and make a list not of the factors that are against you, but of those that are for you.   If you or I or anybody think constantly of the forces that seem to be against us, we will build them up into a power far beyond that which is justified.   They will assume a formidable strength which they do not actually possess.   But if, on the contrary, you mentally visualize and affirm and reaffirm your assets and keep your thoughts on those assets, emphasizing them to the fullest extent, you will rise out of any difficulty regardless of what it may be.
      − Norman Vincent Peale, The Power of Positive Thinking

Three readings of The Power of Positive Thinking, and only this time did I really notice the quote above.

It's an interesting idea, and for whatever reason, I managed to pick it out this time.   It occurred to me that I can't remember seeing that particular idea espoused anywhere else.   (Although my not remembering it is certainly not proof of anything, other than the fact that sometimes I just read too darn fast for my own good.)   I'm a devout believer in the religion of "writing stuff down" − whether it's just scribbling a list of items to pick up at the grocery store, or whether it's a way to make certain things more concrete and tangible, like personal goals.   Or your top five values in life (see this IYM page for more on this).   Or, as Dr. Peale offered, reasons why you aren't going to fail.

Now, admittedly, I am not in desperate straits in my quest to become debt-free.   I haven't lost confidence in my ability to clean up my family's balance sheet.   (If anything, it's slowly getting stronger.)   Still, I thought it might be an interesting exercise for me to do just what Dr. Peale advises above.   Who knows?   Perhaps I'll stumble onto assets that I didn't even realize I had working for me.

What I've Got Going for Me

(1)   My wife:   She's smart. She's on my side. And she's the greatest.
(2)   My job. It's stable; I'm paid well; my income is quite predictable and has risen each year; evenings and weekends off.
(3)   Three vehicles, and all paid for. Reliable transportation.
(4)   Have a nice place to call home; i.e., roof over our heads.
(5)   Few worries about "just making ends meet;" i.e., planning allows our necessities to be met pretty comfortably.
(6)   Development of ability to discern and disregard society's urgings toward "super-consumption."
(7)   Access to computer, Quicken, Excel, etc., and all their uses. (Account tracking, etc.)
(8)   Access to internet and all its uses. (Quick bill-paying, communication, etc.)
(9)   Built up a pretty good library of financial literature to keep me educated and motivated.
(10)   No major health issues currently. Health insurance coverage.
(11)   Clean credit history. All accounts current.
(12)   Emergency fund established, and slowly increasing.
(13)   Self-discipline seems to be growing stronger and stronger.
(14)   Do not live in a high-consumption, "out-spend your neighbors" neighborhood.
(15)   Do not have high-consumption, "out-spend your friends" friends.
(16)   Lots of leisure/stress-relief activities within quick access (stereo system, computer games, exercise, etc.).
(17)   No difficulty accepting reality ... once it slugs me in the face.

Hmmm.   Something tells me I've missed an item or two.   But I think I get the general picture.   Now I just "knock on wood" and put all that stuff above to good use, right?   And make sure I come back to it whenever things get iffy.   Because chances are, they will.

So now it's your turn.   Grab a sheet of paper, and a pen, and take a few minutes.

See if you don't have more on your side than you thought you did.

Michael | September 28, 2002

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