Individual Responsibility - a challenge
The whole idea of individual responsibility is melting away in America like a pat of butter in a hot fry pan. It's being replaced by thinking and behavior that emphasizes blame, dependence, and being a victim. It's eroding the very thing that makes us strong - self-directed thinking and action - people being responsible for their own lives, affairs and actions.
When we make a decision to engage in frugal living, we're taking responsibility for ourselves by making a decision to act.
Specifically, we're deciding to act in a certain way, a way that's in our best interest. When we make a decision to be wise in the area of personal finance, we're taking responsibility for our financial well-being.
Being responsible is being achievement oriented. I'm not talking about the "over achievers" out there. I'm just talking about people who get things done, make it happen, act instead of talk, and stay focused on success. And, they enjoy the rewards of their responsible behavior.
The flip side of individual responsibility is being irresponsible. That's not something I recommend. The rewards of a low achievement oriented lifestyle and lack of individual responsibility aren't very appealing at all. They suck!
I'm not insensitive to people's situations. I know that some people have it hard, and some misfortunes can't be blamed on anyone or anything except bad luck. Nevertheless, I need to borrow a concept from one of my doctors because I think it holds true here in the world of personal finance and individual responsibility...
of all the folks you run into that are really in tough financial shape, if the truth be known, you're likely to see that 1% of them are misfortunate, and 99% are misbehaving.
Perhaps those numbers aren't exactly correct, but I'll bet they're not far from the truth. So, what does it take to make an individual responsible? Well, one of my friends says that a key characteristic is "what you believe," especially when it comes to believing in yourself.
Let me introduce Brad Chaffee, the author of Enemy of Debt. The name says it all - Enemy of Debt. I think Brad has the right attitude. He may come on a little strong for some folks, but that's what I especially like about him. He's in your face with a strong (yet polite) message that we're sabotaging ourselves with our own negative thinking.
See his What you believe is what you achieve article and get to know a man that is on your side. He has to be on your side - he's an enemy of debt. We're talking about unnecessary and unwise debt, not just any form of debt.
So, Brad identifies our "beliefs" as a key to success, a key to achieving our goals through individual responsibility and deliberate action instead of simply floating along, letting things happen to us and responding as we may.
What other traits might we seek to have if we want others to know that we practice individual responsibility? Here's my list:
- seek information - make an effort to be aware of what's happening; watch how things evolve and you'll learn from things you see and hear
- seek out lessons learned from others so you don't have to "reinvent the wheel"
- learn how to analyze - put 2 and 2 together to figure out what's likely to happen in the future; become better at drawing conclusions and try to extrapolate, but be careful about jumping to conclusions
- gather insights - use your analysis to turn life experience into meaningful and realistic insights about how things work and how people behave
- know how to focus - keep your "eye on the ball" because it's the most important part of the game
- become skilled at how to prioritize - know what's "also important" while you keep your eye on the ball, and understand the sequence of things
- life planning - do a little "what if" thinking and make some reasonable plans (and keep them updated) based on likely scenarios, according to your insights
- be someone who is committed - stay on course when it's working well and there aren't reasonable alternatives
- take action - implement your plans deliberately
- believe in yourself - have a "can do" attitude and be confident as you pursue your desires
The last item, "believe in yourself" is really believing in your planned approach and your methods for obtaining what you want. Our systems of belief are often more powerful than anything else in the world. That's why it's so important to examine closely what it is we believe, and why.
Believing in yourself is a different way of stating Brad's message of "What you believe, you achieve." He's out to wage war against unwarranted debt, and I'm going to help him.
I applaud Brad for showing us a healthy dose of individual responsibility and tenacity with his frank examination of his past and what he's done about it. Good fortune to all my frugal living friends that value and practice individual responsibility in all that they do. And a special salute to those that feel the way I do - debt be damned!
Done with Individual Responsibility, take me to Mindset of Frugality
Done with Individual Responsibility, take me to Managing Money