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You hear it on radio and on TV.
You see it in the papers and in the magazines.
It’s plastered on everything from store fronts to billboards, on the sides of city buses and across the windshield of that sporty little number at the car dealership down the street.
Yet day after day you shrug it off.
You smother the urge.
Despite the attractive packaging you fight the temptation and stand firm.
Then, one day―you buckle.
You sign your name on the dotted line and take the buy-now-pay-later plunge.
Congrats! You’ve just become a cardholding member of the ever-increasing IOU demographic, not to mention the proud owner of a brand new thingamajig.
Which, given you can afford it, is kinda cool.
But how well do you suppose this type of deferred payment plan works in regards to your Everyday Hopes and Dreams?
Probably not all that well, right?
Because “by now” you know darn well that if you go on deferring your Everyday Hopes and Dreams then you’re going to have to “pay later.”
“By now,” you’re acutely aware that the longer you continue sweeping em under the rug the greater the cost will be.
And frankly, who can afford that?
LIVING WITH THE PAIN OF PUTTING IT OFF
In my youth, writes bestselling author and career consultant Laurence G. Boldt, I spent a portion of my spare time visiting the elderly in nursing homes. I was struck, time and again, by how many of these people expressed regret about things they had always wanted to do with their lives, but hadn’t. It wasn’t just that they had failed to achieve their dreams: they had never even worked on them. Many had secretly cherished an idea of something they wanted to do for twenty or thirty years or more, but had never even taken the first step. On the other hand, there were a relative few who had lived their dreams and followed their hearts desire. They had an energy, a vitality, and a sense of humor the others lacked. They seemed more at peace with themselves.
Even more moving was the empathetic way these people, many bedridden and with trembling hands, urged me, with all the strength and force they could muster, to follow my own dreams, not to allow what had happened to them to happen to me. Had this occurred once or twice it would have had made a strong impression, but its repetition left an indelible mark.
So, did this poignant little story leave you feeling warm and fuzzy?
Or did you find it rather unsettling?
Perhaps even a tad disturbing?
If so, could it be because like the majority of those you just read about you too feel the best things in life are somehow passing you by?
Well then the question you need to ask yourself is how can I avoid such a fate?
How do I join the ranks of the “relative few”?
The answer of course is by living your hopes and dreams.
And the only conceivable way to do that is by paying your dues―up front and in advance.
A PENNY SAVED IS…WELL, A PENNY SAVED
Here’s the deal, we all like shiny new things, we all enjoy the guilty pleasure of whipping out our credit cards every now and again, and why not, instant gratification’s not a bad thing.
But where’s the personal satisfaction?
Screw the wow factor.
Where’s the YES! factor?
Where’s the deep down sense of achievement.
As a kid I enjoyed few things more than riding my Schwinn Stingray, and it showed, meaning the old girl was pretty beat up, including the seat, which was faded, cracked, and torn.
Of course I couldn’t afford a new one so there was no sense in dwelling on it.
Then during one of my routine visits to Nick’s bike shop something caught my eye―a seat cover.
Hey Nick, I hollered across the counter.
Seven bucks kid.
Seven bucks, I thought, whoa, what a deal!
That was like way less than the price of a new seat.
Trouble was I didn’t have anywhere near seven bucks.
Thus I ambled out empty handed, and of course, a bit brokenhearted.
All the same, I couldn’t stop thinking about that seat cover.
So that night at the dinner table after choking down the last agonizing bite of veggies my mom spooned onto my plate I stated my case.
And it’s only seven bucks, I reiterated.
Now by the look on my dad’s face you’d have thought I said seven hundred.
Oh well, I tried I thought.
Then the following morning, still bound and determined, I went to work on plan B.
And work I did!
Every day after school I scoured the neighborhood for pop bottles which I’d take to the market and cash in for five cents apiece.
I’d pocket the lunch money my folks gave me on Fridays and persistently elude the ice cream man as if he were peddling candied yams and frozen spinach.
At home I’d help with as many chores as I could in hopes of garnering a well deserved bonus atop my weekly allowance.
All in all it didn’t add up to much, but what I did manage to save I’d deposit into a coffee can that I kept beneath my bed, and each night I’d go to sleep with a big o’ smile on my face knowing I was a couple of coins closer to those seven smackeroos.
Needless to say the biggest grin came on the day I rode my bike down to Nicks and walked out with my prized seat cover.
To this day I remember emptying my pockets onto the counter, looking on as Nick unraveled the waded up dollar bills and examined the heavily soiled Indian Head nickel I found near the railroad tracks, then suspiciously looking me in the eye and asking, are you sure there are 50 pennies in each of these rolls?
After racing home I tore into that package like a grizzly into a spring picnic basket, unbolted the seat from its perch and slipped on the new wrapper.
It was an unforgettable moment no doubt. .
Yet what I look back most fondly on isn’t so much getting the seat cover, but rather, on how I got it.
Granted, had my folks given me the seven dollars I’d have been extremely grateful.
But they didn’t, and for that I’m even more grateful.
Because y’see, that day I walked out of Nick’s bike shop with much more than a brand new metal flake green seat cover under my arm.
I walked away knowing that if you put in the time and energy, if you’re patient and willing to make a few sacrifices, a good deal can be accomplished.
That day something very special took place, I handed over something, something I’d earned; something I’d worked very hard for, and in return, received something invaluable―a brimming sense of personal satisfaction.
ONE OF THE BEST INVESTMENTS YOU’LL EVER MAKE
Like all things shiny and new, that seat cover eventually lost its luster.
Nevertheless the lesson I learned from it will forever be a bright spot in my memory.
Sure I realize that saving a few bucks in a coffee can over the course of a couple of weeks doesn’t sound like much and that pursuing your Everyday Hopes and Dreams requires a whole other level of discipline and dedication.
But no matter, in either case it’s money in the bank. It’s an investment, one that in terms of personal fulfillment will pay you back multifold.
But you gotta pay your dues.
And yes, this includes all those inopportune times when you’re too busy, too tired, or flat out don’t feel like it.
I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to rob that coffee can when I heard the ice cream man rounding the block, or how often I’d daydream about hanging with my friends while helping with chores around the house.
But every time I’d deposit another coin or two into that can those temptations would quickly lose their luster.
My point: when it comes to things and thingamajigs continue exercising some self-restraint.
When it comes to the things that truly mean something on the other hand, by all means feel free to spend like there’s no tomorrow. Go ahead, reach deep down into those pockets of opportunity and fritter away every last ounce of oomph you’ve got.
Dedicate every iota of time you can spare.
Because as with all matters of the heart, your Everyday Hopes and Dreams come with a rather substantial cost.
Then again, when you consider the alternative it seems a mighty small price to pay.
Now don’t it?
See ya May 1st
Till then, keeep it up.