Tag Archives: Identity

Confidence: The Key to Accomplishment

Helen Keller said, “Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”

If you think getting out of debt is difficult, try earning a college degree, writing several books, and being a political activist, all while being deaf and blind.  The 2003 edition of the Alabama quarter has Helen’s image on it with the words “Spirit of Courage.” Undoubtedly, there’s a huge connection between confidence and accomplishment.

If you’re deeply in debt, you have surely faced those moments where giving up feels like the only option. I can remember in 2004 going to the local Bank of America branch to ask them if they could cancel several overdraft fees I had received (you have not because you ask not…I had 9 overdraft fees over one weekend, and I was able to get 8 of them cancelled).

After stating how stressed I was about my debt (only $8,000 at the time, mostly school loans), the bank associate reassured me that it really wasn’t that bad and that I was going to make it. It’s amazing how words like that can help you keep going. I still remembered what she said even after Beth & I had accumulated over six figures of unsecured debt.

Confidence = Accomplishment

 I’m convinced that no great accomplishments in life have been achieved without an equal amount of confidence. Your level of confidence literally affects everything you do, from huge decisions like getting married, changing careers, and starting a family, to negotiating a purchase or simply choosing what to wear today. Confidence affects everything.

Confidence equates to emotional stability. Studies have shown that people out-of-whack emotionally spend way more than people who are emotionally on-center (aka, retail therapy).

When you lack confidence in a certain area, it means that you don’t believe in yourself in that area (could be due to lack of experience, fear, past failure in that area, etc). So if you set a goal to be debt free but lack confidence in the area of finances, you will not have the self-discipline needed to reach your goal. You’ll either sabotage yourself somehow or find a way to quit.

So how are YOU doing? On a scale of 1 to 10, what’s your confidence level? If it’s low, here’s how to improve it.

Confidence is an Inside Job

The Bible teaches that transformation takes place when you renew your mind. (Romans 12:2). If you want to grow in confidence, you have to start with your thinking. Here’s three ways of doing this:

1. Guard Your Thoughts:  Do you just let yourself think on whatever thoughts enter your brain? Paul stated that “we take our thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). In Philippians 4, Paul lists several worthy values and then admonishes us to “think on these things.” God would not command this if it were impossible. Clearly we have control over our thoughts and need to take captive negative and defeating thoughts and replace them with truth.

2. Speak Life: If my daughter walked around all day saying “I’m ugly, worthless, and have no future” do you think as a loving father that I would let her continue to say those things? Of course not! Yet how often do we do that to ourselves? At a recent conference I attended, John Maxwell made the statement “the most important person you ever listen to is yourself.” If that’s true, what are you hearing yourself say? Is it uplifting or does it tear you down? If you want to change your life, change the words you say.

“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Proverbs 18:21

3. Control Your Input: Zig Ziglar says “when you change your input, you change your outlook.” So let me ask you, what are you reading? What are you watching? Who are you spending time with? If you want to grow in confidence in any area, read everything you can on that topic. Spend time with people who are uplifting and positive. Turn off the TV for a while. Read biographies of people who have overcome tremendous odds in life; it will build you up to realize that if they can do it, so can you.

“You are the same today that you’ll be five years from now except for two things: the people you meet and the books you read.” Mac McMillan

If you want to make your life count, you have to get serious about this stuff. It matters, and it will make a difference in your life. You were born with a purpose. Don’t waste your life watching sitcoms.

On a surface level this post is about confidence, but to be honest, it’s really about identity, about how you see yourself and who you really believe that you are. 1st John 3:1 says “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” You are a child of God. Stop playing small and insignificant and become who you already are.

Committed to your success,

-Wesley

Comments: We respond to 100% of our comments. Which of the three points listed above do you need to focus on right now?

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How To Kill Your Debt Without Killing Your Spouse

Debt will take a toll on your marriage long before it ever affects your credit. Finance is a numbers game, but we tend to forget there are lives and emotions attached to those numbers.

When your blood pressure starts to rise over issues of money, you should stop and ask yourself, “what’s more important, my budget or my bride? My security or my spouse?”

Money can be an incredibly deep issue, because it is married to your emotions, often showing up in issues of control, security, identity, and desire. So when life is difficult financially, it can really start to weigh on your relationship.

We wrongly place our hope in money, trusting that it will bring us security, and provide for our needs. I personally believe that your level of financial freedom is proportionate to the level of disconnect between your emotions and your money (that’s a powerful thought…don’t miss it!). True financial freedom comes when you can separate your finances from your feelings.

Imagine how free your life would be if the lack of money did not produce fear, and wealth was not connected with feelings of peace and security. What if your level of joy did not rise and fall with your income? What if we could simply trust him to be who he said he is, our Provider? Paul said “My God shall supply all your needs…” Do we believe that?

If you argue about money with your spouse, then it’s time for a divorce. But not with your spouse…rather, with your trust in money instead of in God.

James (don’t forget…this was Jesus’ brother) said “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”

It’s time for some soul-searching. Do your arguments with your spouse stem from your own desires, whether that be for control, security, or simply more stuff (because your identity is tied to your possessions)? If so, you need to confess this to your spouse and ask your spouse for forgiveness.

To achieve financial wholeness in a marriage requires teamwork. But sometimes you need a reminder that you and your spouse are on the same team, fighting for each other instead of against each other. Finances are never “his” problem or “her” issue….it’s OUR problem and regardless of who caused it we’re going to work together to overcome it.

Committed to your success,

-Wesley & Beth

P.S. It’s Friday, which means we’re sending out our newsletter today. We always include a short “Date Night” section in the newsletter including tips and questions for you and your spouse to help keep the passion alive in your marriage. Not a member of the DTL community? Sign-up now!

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The Secret Source of Serious Satisfaction

“Now what?” This is one of the saddest phrases you can say. People spend their lives in search of a dream, only to see it fulfilled and say, “Now what?”

I felt that after we paid off our debt. Oh I’ll admit, it was an awesome feeling to push the “pay now” button for the last time on Beth’s $40,000 school loan (which was our lowest interest rate and hence the last thing we paid off…forget the debt snowball…tackle your highest interest rate first).

“Now what” happens so fast. It seemed like the excitement of paying off our debt faded so quickly, and in just a day or two we were on to the next goal. It’s like the mountain climber who, once he ascends the peak of a mountain realizes there are so many more mountains to climb. “Great…nice view…now what?”

I think of this every time I watch a championship game…the winners stand there so proud…a life dream accomplished for so many of them. But then comes Monday morning. Then comes next season. “We won the Superbowl…now what?” The fulfillment from reaching a goal fades so quickly, that you have to have a source of contentment in your life that is deeper than an accomplished goal.

In Psalm 73, the writer Asaph begins by confessing how he was envying the wealthy, for they had “no struggles” and were “free from common burdens.” But then he has a revelation and ends the chapter by saying “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. God is…my portion forever (vs. 25-26).”

While debt may be difficult, envy is a killer (and maybe part of the reason you’re in debt…keeping up with the Jones’ is a fancy phrase for envy). The secret to true satisfaction in life is to understand and believe that God is your source. This can’t just be head knowledge…you have to anchor your emotions in the fact that God himself is enough. God + your debt = enough. God + your marriage = enough. God + your poverty = enough. God + nothing else = enough.

Beware of destination disease. Think you’ll be happy once you’re out of debt? You won’t be…not unless you’re already happy now. Financial freedom is nice, but honestly it doesn’t feel a whole lot different than being in debt (hate to bust your bubble). At the end of the day we have to go deeper and be able to say as Asaph did that there is nothing on this earth that will ultimately satisfy me outside of God himself. God is my portion. God is enough.

Committed to your success,

-Wesley

We respond to 100% of our comments! What are some false sources of satisfaction that you see people turning to? How do you struggle with destination disease?

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Why Financial Tips and Tricks Fail

Let’s be honest. Lack of knowledge isn’t the problem. I read Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover before accumulating six figures of debt. The issue wasn’t that I didn’t know paying for our honeymoon on a credit card was a bad idea. The issue was that I didn’t care. I really really wanted an incredible honeymoon with Beth, and Visa was very willing to make that happen for me.

Everyone knows they can pay off debt faster by cutting out cable, entertainment, new clothes, Starbucks, eating out, etc. Financial tips and tricks fail to work because debt is not the root problem, it’s merely the fruit.

The Real Issue: Emotions Gone Wild

We like to joke about “retail therapy,” but pretty much everything we spend money on is either to meet a need or experience an emotion. It could be as simple as food and shelter or as complex as the desire for love or a release from anger or stress. We’re within walking distance from Starbucks, and I can guarantee that in my house the ratio of Cake Pops to Crying Babies is proportionate.

What’s Your Spending Trigger?

Everyone has spending triggers…specific emotions that drive them in search of comfort or escape. Research has shown that people spend 300% more when they are sad, happy people are less likely to gamble, and angry people take higher financial risks as a sort of self-defeating behavior.  The challenge is identifying your spending triggers and developing habits to deal with that emotion apart from spending money.

Personal Example

I drive a 10 year old Toyota 4Runner. When I see a nice Audi drive by it pushes my envy buttons. I know I could “qualify” to buy a new car, and to be perfectly honest we’re getting close to needing one. But deep down I know that’s not why I want one. Despite all the freedom that Jesus has worked in me, there’s still part of me that wants to impress people. Somewhere in there is the seed of insecurity, the same source of wanting to be popular in high school, to be part of the “in” crowd.

So on a surface level, I remind myself how great it is to be debt free, how the guy driving that nice Audi probably hates making the $450 payment every month, and how Paul wrote that “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” But on a deeper soul level, I’m asking Jesus to redeem that part of me that feels like it “needs” things that aren’t really needs. And to help me be confident in who I am in Him, not who I am in comparison to others.

Committed to your success,

-Wesley

Let’s dialogue – what are some of your spending triggers, and how do you deal with them without spending money? We respond to 100% of our comments!

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