Let’s face it, unless you’ve been off on a yoga retreat in silent mediation for the past 18 months, you’ve undoubtedly gotten yourself wrapped in the reality show that is politics today.
If you’re like many Americans, you rightly feel compelled to engage in shaping the future of your democracy. So continue to make calls, write letters, show up at town halls. Political pressure towards your elected politicians matters. But when you find yourself arguing with someone of a different party affiliation, watching hours of cable news or addicted to refreshing your Twitter feed, it’s time to ask yourself a few questions.
- Is my own financial house in order? It’s easy to be outraged by the national deficit or government spending. But first ask yourself if there’s anything you could be doing to strengthen your own financial foundation. Chances are the answer will always be yes. And it won’t get done by fighting with your uncle on Facebook.
- How does it benefit me to be the “first to know”? Short answer: it doesn’t. Unless you’re a White House correspondent or employee, 95% of the “Breaking News” you consume makes absolutely NO difference. I’m not saying that one person can’t make a difference. In fact, I believe the opposite is true. But if you look to see if being the first to know something in the news has impacted your daily life, chances are you can only point to an increase in anxiety.
- Am I really influencing public opinion, changing hearts and minds? How many of your political debates ends with the other person saying, “Excellent, fair points. Thank you for enlightening me. I will now and tell all of my friends what you have told me so that we will all know better!”? Having a sense of civic duty is important. Responding to everyone who disagrees with you on Twitter, is not. Arguing politics on social media is about as pointless as trying to covert an Atheist to Christianity by retweeting the Pope.
Here are three things you CAN do right now to strengthen the financial foundation of your personal life or small business.
- Review and reconcile your accounts. Are all of your accounts fully reconciled right now and ready for an audit? Spending a half hour reviewing your Mint or Quickbooks online account strengthens the muscle of financial empowerment and lessons the odds of a “surprise” financial emergency or error disrupting your week.
- Review your interest rates. Just by being aware of your interest rates helps you make better choices when you have to use a credit account or when you want to make an extra payment. I write mine in Sharpie on the back of my cards.
- Stop the leaks! When you’re caught up in palace intrigue and leaks out of Washington, spin that fascination full circle to you and find the leaks in your own spending habits. Using a programmable thermostat has been shown to reduce your electric bill by 5-15%. Vow to make coffee at the office rather than your daily Starbucks splurge. Seek and choose to tackle one small thing a week. Inch by inch, it’s a cinch.
So when you’re tempted to revert back to a self-sabotaging habit of getting distracted (by anything!)– consciously replace your bad habit with one of the above three. Soon, you’ll start to notice your credit score and balances rising and heck, you may even start sleeping better.
Bottom line: if you’re concerned about the future and want to do something to ensure you will be OK, the most important place to start is in your own business and life.