Because I’m a pastor and financial coach, most of my job involves helping people navigate a fork in life’s road, usually in the form of a major financial or career decision.
Almost everyone comes in to my office with one of these questions:
Should I fight to pay off the debt or give up and file bankruptcy?
Do I keep trying to land a job in my career field, or take any old thing that comes along?
How did I get into this predicament and what do I do about it?
How can I change things?
Why did this happen?
How long will it be before things are normal again?
These are important questions, ones that involve careful considerations. Usually, there are no quick answers.
Doing something big like resolving to pay off a lot of debt, chase a new career, or make radical adjustments to your lifestyle (healthy as those adjustments may be) require faith, tremendous courage and decision-making skills. And unfortunately, it’s not at all uncommon for people to have courage, but not the faith or the decision-making skills to make a tough decision.
What that leaves us with is an even more difficult dilemma than should we go left or right at the fork of the road: Fearful people afraid of making the wrong choice won’t go either direction. They pull up a couch and they park, right there in the road, hoping things will either work themselves out or someone will come along and fix it for them.
They trade the fork in the road for the couch in the road. Pass the potato chips, please.
I think a lot of this is the natural emotional progression we all engage in as we get older. When we’re in our twenties, we’re pretty fearless. We think we’re invincible and never think that “the worst that could happen” could actually happen to us. We charge up our credit cards, convinced the debt fairies will come take care of the balances at just the right time. We change jobs willy-nilly for whatever stupid reason without considering long-term consequences to our career. We treat relationships with as much care as paper cups, assuming the next friend or big romance is just another party away.
By our late thirties to early forties, most of us have at least a little bit of road rash from falling right smack down on our faces. This is what self-help gurus call “life experience.” Whatever. We have open wounds, scabs and scar tissue accumulated from past failures.
And we realize that the worst that can happen really can happen. To me. To you. And it’s not fun when it does.
In this economy, falling on your face is even more painful and the recovery time is triple if not five or ten times what it would have been just a few years ago.
Dump your career to open your own business? If your business succeeds, expect three to four years before you turn a profit. If it fails? Expect to be unemployed for about two years.
Racked up massive debt? Expect creditors to be pretty intolerant of your excuses and stingy with options that might help you get out, such as reducing payments and interest rates.
Acted recklessly in your marriage? Guess what – the grass really isn’t greener on anyone else’s lawn.
Chances are you know someone who is unemployed, someone who is trying to work their way out of a huge financial bind, and someone who is alone. None of these places is fun to be, so the worst thing you can do is to pull up a couch.
Keep moving. Keep walking. Choose a path. Pray your socks off and get good advice and solid counsel from people who will help you find God’s will for the next chapter.
The couch is not your friend. Indecisiveness will suck the joy out of your life. You can always venture a little bit down one path and turn back around if it’s not what you thought it would be.
Waffling should only happen at breakfast.