Does someone you know need motivation badly? Are they waiting to get fired up before they get to work on improving their financial situation? Are you the one trying to fire them up?
Here’s a better idea: fire them instead. This can be a very tough thing to do, especially if it’s your kid we’re talking about, but it could be the best course of action possible.
I recently met with a friend whose daughter pulled a boomerang on them.
After my friend and his wife spent over $125,000 helping their little princess Cindy earn a degree in business, she came back home. She didn’t have to worry about finding a job without a college degree. She had all the tools. But she wouldn’t get off the couch and find work. Instead, Cindy spent her time racking up credit card debt on the internet – and exhausting my friend’s potato chip supply. She found a job, and when she returned home her parents asked how it went. Her response? “I got fired.” Her parents were desperate.
Cindy and her parents visited me recently, and we found ourselves having a very open and direct conversation about the situation. I asked Cindy what her ultimate goals were.
She told me that she wanted to travel and have freedom. She told me she wanted to travel to Spain and learn Spanish. She talked about her traveling dreams in great detail and painted a wonderful picture for all of us. I asked Cindy what was holding her back from living her dream.
She told me that she didn’t have any money and then she told me about the debt she had accumulated. She explained that she was bored and just spent her time buying jewelry on the internet.
She told me that she tried to stop those behaviors but found herself going back to her internet buying habit every single time. I asked her if she’d ever be able to travel to those wonderful places if she continued that behavior and didn’t get out of credit card debt.
Cindy acknowledged that if she continued her spending behavior, she’d never be able to afford bus fare to Burbank let alone a trip to Spain. At that point, I shared an idea that I’d heard several years earlier.
“Cindy, your best thinking got you where you are today. Your best thoughts have you firing up the computer and spending money you don’t have. Your best thoughts got you to rack up $7,000 in credit card debt. Your best thoughts are keeping you on the couch instead of looking for work. ”
I asked her to consider “firing herself” and going to Debtors Anonymous. She doesn’t lack knowledge…she knows exactly what to do. She doesn’t lack skill – she is a very smart and talented young woman. Her problem isn’t even motivation. She has a voice in her head that tells her that she really should stop spending money and she really should look for work.
Her problem is that she listens to the other little voice inside her head. You know…the one that tells her to get her act together starting tomorrow. My experience tells me tomorrow never comes and that the messages we get from that little destructive voice inside doesn’t change and doesn’t go away.
Cindy’s problem is herself. She has to fire herself and start taking direction from another source.
In Cindy’s case, I suggested that she attend Debtors Anonymous meetings. My sense is that Cindy needs an attitude adjustment more than a job. Once she gets her head on straight, she’ll find some kind of work.
I don’t know if Cindy took action, but I also had a few ideas for her parents.
My idea was that if the parents didn’t like Cindy’s behavior, they didn’t have to stand for it. They couldn’t force Cindy to find work, but they could tell her that if she did not attend a certain number of DA meetings each week they would ask her to leave the house.
Do you think I stepped over the line? Was my advice too harsh? Should I have referred this family to a therapist instead?