I’ve been pondering a maxim that I read in a fiction novel this week (yes, I read fiction, too). The wise teacher was instructing his students on a life principle.
“You know what to do. You just don’t want to do it.”
I think this describes a lot of people that come in for counseling. Perhaps they are hoping that there is an alternative to facing the hard stuff. Or they need someone with an authoritative voice to help them face the truth. Or they are hoping that the counselor will confront their partner instead of having to do it themselves.
Yes, it is true that sometimes people need help breaking denial. They may have a big old blind spot that needs to be exposed. This is especially true for people with a more serious disorder. But for many this is not the case. It is simply that the needed change is painful, complicated, or difficult.
I see two main areas that are pretty common.
I need to stop drinking.
I need to let go of an affair or other sexual behavior outside of marriage.
I have to deal with my anger
I have a problem with lying.
I have a spending or other addiction.
I need to move out of my parent’s house
I need to let go of a relationship that is destructive.
I need to find a job or look for another job.
I need to move forward with a marriage commitment
I need to get my finances in order, but it means having to reduce my lifestyle
Both of those lists could get much longer. And let me say, it takes courage to do those things. Being coached through them often makes the process easier, or at least more doable. That is one reason why we love the AA method of using sponsors. Sponsors are able to strengthen and encourage us when we are weak. They are a gift.
I remember times in my life where I have had to face both moral and practical issues. They really are not fun. Deciding to allocate money to a retirement account meant reducing my available spending money. Admitting I was a people pleaser and needed to set appropriate boundaries was, and still is painful for me. Even before I entered counseling I knew many of the things that needed changing – but I needed help doing them. My pride, my fear, and my family issues got in the way.
God tells us that He is available to be a 24/7 resource. His word stands as a promise to us. We can always reach out to Him when we are weak.
According to 2012 data, the poverty line in California for 2 people is $2450/mo, or slightly under $30,000/yr. Also, according to the 2013 Retirement Confidence Survey from the Employee Benefit Research Institute, nearly 3 out of 10 people have virtually nothing saved for retirement, and 57% have less than $25,000 in total savings and investments.
It is always sad to sit with couples in counseling who have come to retirement age with nothing but Social Security income, and often with debt as well. It puts them at or below the poverty level with little hope for a better financial future. Plus, when one of the spouses passes on, one of the Social Security checks disappears. It might necessitate getting back into the working world when jobs are hard to acquire.
Social Security benefits were never designed to be a substitute for a retirement plan – just a short term supplement when life expectancy was much shorter than it is today.
Because money can be such a huge area of conflict in a marriage I thought it would be wise to emphasize the importance of taking a serious stance on putting away money for the future no matter what age you might be or what your marital status is at the moment.
What I found to work is:
Create a very conservative spending plan and stick to it. (I use Quicken to help automate the process.)
Treat all raises as money that can either reduce debt or increase savings.
Maximize all contributions to employer and government sponsored retirement plans to the best of your ability (401K, 403B, IRA, etc).
Take a Dave Ramsey or Crown Financial course.
Have automatic withdrawals set-up when possible. It often feels painful to write out a check to a retirement account you might not use for 30-40 years. Think about how it would feel if you had to write separate checks for Federal, State, Social Security, Medicare and SDI taxes every paycheck. (Actually, that might be a good thing.)
Use financial counselors when needed.
Question and resist new technology – it can be very expensive to keep up with all the new available toys. New toys become old toys very rapidly.
Talk to your spouse regularly about money and spending and make sure you are on the same page so that one of you doesn’t sabotage your plan.
Dump the entitlement mentality. Never use the phrase “I deserve”. The Bible tells us what we deserve – that’s why we need a Savior.
What is the goal here? It’s so that you can be a help, rather than a hindrance to others.
It is still a very difficult economy in which to find meaningful work, especially if you are recently out of college, or you’restruggling to find something in your field of choice.I have five thoughts based on my experience, and the advice of experts, that I hope might be helpful.
At 21, fresh out of UCLA and about to get married, I scrambled to get a job. Working at minimum wage at Pine Crest Preschool was not my idea of what I wanted to do after college, but a B.A. in History and Social Science doesn’t get you much!
So, my first advice is ‘take anything that is remotely related to what you think you want to do.’
And, if you can’t find a job doing that, take whatever you can get.
The reason I say this, is because I got a job I really enjoyed later on from a friend who I had worked with at that first minimum wage preschool. Her recommendation to her new boss landed me a position I would not have known about if it weren’t for her and my willingness to take what I could get.
So, the second thing is to connect in a meaningful way with your colleagues, and with those who have jobs in the field you would choose.Referrals for work are the number one way people get better jobs!
Eighty percent of available jobs are never advertised, and over half of all employees get their jobs through networking, according to BH Careers International.
The third thought is that you must carry out an active, as opposed to a passive, job search. It is not enough to respond to leads from want ads or employment agencies. Carrying out an active search allows you to control the job search process and opens up many more job opportunities. It is estimated that only 10% of jobs are actually found from online searches.
Have a great attitude. Dress appropriately for any job interviews. Remember to smile.
The fourth thing is to conduct Informational interviews. Meet with someone from the firm to get more detailed information about the company itself and possibly a job lead.This shows initiative and helps you to know if a place is where you would like to work.
The fifth suggestion if you are a person of faith, is to pray and ask God’s help in your search. Ask Him to inspire you about what you desire to do and with whom you should talk to find out more.
Several years ago I felt a restless feeling that there was something more I wanted to do. I had just prayed about it, and then I talked to a friend at church who mentioned she had too much work to do as an adjunct professor at Fuller Seminary.I mentioned my interest in doing more, and within a day I was called and hired to teach part time.I believe God put it on my heart to be open to new work, and on my friend’s heart to work less. So, God answered both of our prayers!