Android die-hards can tell you everything that is wrong with iOS7, Apple’s recently released operating system for iPhones, iPads and iPods. Those who gripe every time something changes are also among the early detractors. Everyone else—that is, those of us who’ve gone back for a second or third helping of tasty iKool-Aid—loves it. The exclamation that I hear most often regarding the new iOS is, “It’s the same phone, but it seems like it’s brand new!” What struck me even harder than iWorship last week, however, was recounting the number of individuals who, with unchanged exteriors, have undergone noticeable overhauls in their Personal Operating System (POS)—for the better.
“I’m bad with money.”
Don’t you love the way we label ourselves as predestined for failure? “I have a bad temper.” “I have no willpower.” “Exercise and I don’t mix.” “Oh, I have ADD.” “I’m not a good listener.” “I have a sweet tooth.” Or the one I hear often as a financial planner and educator, “I’m just bad with money.”
It sounds like self-deprecation—even humility—but it’s actually self-justification. We’re giving ourselves permission to behave badly in the future. Before you get angry with me for hurling accusations, let me confess that I am one of those people who have used this tactic, unknowingly and sadly, knowingly, at times.
What all of these expressions of inability or ignorance have in common is that they’re simply inexcusable. Not only are they not rocket science, they are not even changing the oil in your car. They are more like brushing your teeth or putting gas in the tank. Even if you’re predisposed to flying off the handle, it’s no excuse for being mean. Even if you’re prone to indulgent spontaneity, you must own your decisions. Even if you’re not a gym rat or naturally fit, as a human you weren’t designed to be sedentary. Even if your attention migrates easily, you can’t use it as an excuse for intellectual laziness. Just because you like chocolate, it doesn’t excuse gluttony. Lastly, you don’t have to understand the Alternative Minimum Tax or be able to articulate Modern Portfolio Theory to spend less than you earn and plan for the unknown, the two categories into which the vast majority of financial planning recommendations fall.
“Completely new and instantly familiar”
The great news about overcoming self-deception is that we can turn on a dime once we recognize it. While some of us may need to do a deep dive with a counselor to target more systemic self-denial, many are free to simply choose the alternative path of wisdom and act accordingly, almost immediately. Especially regarding our dealings with money, we can upgrade our financial operating systems right now. Like our phone updates, it may take a little time to install the new mindset, but in dealing with behavior that is not tied to a compulsive diagnosis, we can look the same on the outside with a completely new perspective internally in a very short period of time. Two of the life-changing tools that I’ve seen dramatically reboot people’s financial programming are Dave Ramsey’s book, The Total Money Makeover, and You Need A Budget, cash flow software created by former accountant, Jesse Mecham.
Jony Ive, Apple’s SVP of Design describes the new iOS as “completely new and instantly familiar.” The best part about acquiescing to our own personal evolution is that it too will feel oddly familiar, because it’s how it ought to be. Adults aren’t supposed to throw temper tantrums. We’re designed to overrule our basest instincts with self-control. It feels great when we expend the calories we take in through physical activity. We’re capable of being present in a world full of distractions and applying our attention to those who most deserve and need it. Sweets taste better as treats than as main courses. And with a little guidance—but primarily common sense and intellectual honesty—we can choose to be good managers of money, and then do so.