Practice

Cultivating Financial Patience

I’m not sure how many people will actually need to try cultivating this particular habit, but it’s probably one of the hardest-won and most useful that I’ve ever acquired, so I’ll share it.

Playing the Variables

There are a lot of things you can do when you are faced with financial hardship. There are a lot of different factors at play, ways to improve your situation:

  • Cut down on your expenses
  • Find new sources of income
  • Call for help (loans or gifts) from friends and family
  • Sell things that you don’t need
  • Sell things that you do need (note: I’ve done this. It ain’t fun. I’d really recommend it as a last resort.)

However,while these are great ways (and notsogreat) to improve your situation,  sometimes you can do all of them and still find yourself coming up short. What do you do when you have tried everything? It is possible; don’t give me that “you just haven’t found the answer! Keep looking!” crap. The fact is you can reach a point where you have literally done everything you can to improve your situation, and it still sucks.

Delta Time

There’s one thing you haven’t tried, but that you will. One thing that your bill collectors insist on ignoring, but that you have in your favor: time itself.

I am, actually, an optimist. I do believe there is an answer to every problem. What I don’t believe, though, is that all the answers are all there right now. Some solutions are winding their way towards me, flowing down the path of the future to the present.

By doing everything I can, I’m making sure I’m ready when that solution finally presents itself. Time changes everything (hence the “delta” get it?). There comes a point in the struggles of life that you just have to cultivate the patience to let your work catch up with the solution that was waiting for you.

That could look like a lot of things. Your resume that you sent months ago suddenly catching the right person’s eye. A friend who suddenly needs some work done that you happen to  specialize in. An inheritance. A school that suddenly needs help in some department where you happen to know another parent…

Sound far-fetched? I only bring these examples up because they have all happened to me. The thing is, for many of them I spent the time around them worrying, stressing, frantically doing the same things I’d already done, thinking that maybe somehow I’d missed something. Gradually I learned to trust that I had done everything I could, and quite beating myself up about it. I learned to trust that I was doing all I could, and that time would bear the fruits of my labors.

Ya Still Gotta Do the Work

Please note, this is neither a call to be lazy, nor a justification for living paycheck to paycheck (the biggest bad habit I’ve got, and which needs a lot of work). Ideally you won’t need financial patience, because your ducks are all in a row and you never reach that point where you reach in your pocket and find nothing there.

But we don’t live in ideal times, so when you have done everything you can, remember that time is on your side, and nothing is going to stay the same forever.

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