You Will Fall Down
I’m the father of three great kids. I’ve taken two of them through the process of learning to ride a bicycle. (Number 3 has a few years before she has a go.) I distinctly remember standing with each of them at the top of a grassy hill at a local park, ready to let them loose under the tender mercies of gravity. I told them what was going to happen, and every step that they needed to take. Steer straight. Keep pedaling.
The words I never told them?
“You’re going to fall down.”
I knew it was going to happen, but I also know how powerful that kind of suggestion can be when learning a new skill. It was better for them to just fall, realize that it wasn’t so bad, and try again. It wouldn’t earn me any Father of the Year awards, but it got the job done. They both ride great.
Maybe I should have let them know what was coming, though. The fact is, whenever we start to learn a new skill, we’re going to fall down. Failure is always an option. If it weren’t, then success wouldn’t be worth it. Falling down is how we learn to do things better.
When I coach someone to put together their very first budget as a family, I know that it’s not going to go perfectly. Expenses will be underestimated or forgotten. Or there won’t be enough open communication to get all of the numbers right. Or they won’t hold themselves accountable to their plan. All of that is expected and normal. It just can’t stay that way.
Look, if how you handle your money is the biggest problem in your life – if your debt payments are overwhelming you, and you can’t see how to pay all of your bills – then working to make that better is the biggest opportunity you have to improve your life. Seizing that opportunity will require you to make a series of small, difficult changes, because there isn’t a single magic step you’ll take that will fix it all. To get the results you need it’s going to take time and practice.
After that first budget fails, talk about what mistakes were made and identify how it can be done better. With each month, it’ll improve more and more. Soon enough, there’s a good habit and a working plan.
And then you’ll fall down again.
Even after three years of being financially responsible and doing a lot of really good things, my family still makes mistakes. We’re still learning new lessons and figuring out new ways to do it better.
So, take the risk. You’ll probably fall down. That’s alright. Just pick yourself up and dust yourself off and keep trying.
Question: Is fear of failure keeping you from trying something new? How many times have you told yourself that you can’t make a budget because it just doesn’t work? What can you do today to help pick yourself up and try again?
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