Posts Tagged ‘daveramsey’

Earlier this week a meme that I ignored for awhile was making the rounds on Facebook where a friend gives you a number and you must answer, as your status, a few basic poll questions about yourself when you were that age. For instance, my sister wrote:

My number is…17
I wanted to be: in Europe ALL summer
I was scared of: NOTHING, ‘cept maybe getting a hole in my waterbed
Favorite show(s): Fame
Favorite food(s): mom’s spaghetti, dad’s grill, Luigi’s pizza, Big John Steak n Onion
Favorite drink(s): Coke in glass bottles

Later in the day, I read a post from the blog of Michael Hyatt (former Chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishers) titled What Do You Wish You Knew Then That You Know Now? (which was actually a guest post from Adam Donyes.) Somehow this captured my imagination in a way that the Facebook thing did not. The connection to me was the idea of looking back at who you used to be, once upon a time.

The Hyatt post had the potential to be a dreary excavation of a person’s lifelong regrets (in his terms, folly), but it was not. Instead, it was a study of success. The author’s premise was that age brings wisdom – the kind of wisdom that makes you say things like, “I didn’t even know how much I didn’t know.” (Let’s face facts: was there ever a time in our lives like our college years, where we were sure we had all the answers and frankly, knew it all?) His train of thought logically progressed to another idea – mainly, that at this present point in his timeline there is surely a similar body of knowledge and wisdom as yet undiscovered. So:

“Rather than accept the fact that folly was inevitable, I spent the past twelve months polling fifteen respectable men I admire – men that have lived lives of integrity, men who are faithful husbands, and have been deemed successful in their chosen vocation… The question I asked these fifteen men was this, ‘What are three things you know now that you wish you knew when you were thirty?’ I was hoping that these men would share the folly they had experienced as leaders and in life, so that I might not repeat their mistakes.”

(The results are great. You should check them out.)

It got me thinking about the person I once was. My number is… 23.
I wanted to be: a wealthy college graduate
I was scared of: dying alone
Favorite show(s): Anything on Comedy Central
Favorite food(s): Danish meatballs, pizza, lasagna
Favorite drink(s): Beer. Lots of beer.

I now look upon that guy as “Least likely to live up to his potential.”

And, a la Adam Donyes (with a little Marty McFly mixed in), what would I tell that 23-year old guy were I to meet him in 1989?

  • Stay out of debt. The idea that you need to build your FICO is a trap.
  • Sell your TV. Nothing good ever came from the hours you wasted in front of it.
  • If you want good friends, be a great one. To everyone you meet.
  • The best cure for laziness is activity. Work like hell while you can (i.e., when you’re young), and start investing the extra – even if it’s only $50 a month.
  • The trick to quitting the smokes is that only the first three days are intolerable. After that it gets easier. (And you know it would have been better not to start.)
  • What steps did you take this week to be that “wealthy college graduate”? Do something next week to make sure your answer isn’t “nothing” again next week.
  • Call your grandma.
  • Yes, there really is a God. He loves you, and cares what happens to you. He’s also a lot smarter than you are, so you should probably let him decide what path you should take. Ironically, there’s a lot of freedom in that.
  • God has someone special in mind for you. But not until you both grow up. A lot.
  • Atlanta Braves tickets are likely pretty cheap right about now. 1991 is going to be an excellent year to grab a suite for the season.

Granted, that last pearl of wisdom is probably of no use to the youth of today, but the others are golden. Or pearly. Whatever. The point is that if I had spent more time pondering, “What is the wise thing to do?” and less time searching for “What is the fun thing to do?”, I might have saved myself a ton of trouble and a decade or two of wasted effort.

The takeaway? These are still excellent pieces of advice that I can use, even today. If I continue to adhere to these principles for the next 25 years perhaps I’ll have, instead of advice, a list of things I’m glad I did right. One can hope.

Did you ever look to someone older and wiser for clues to a better life? Ever engage in the whimsical fantasy of traveling through time to speak to your younger or older self? Tell me your story in the comments section.


A couple of years ago I was feeling particularly disgusted with my lack of progress in life. I’ve always lacked self-motivation. Procrastination was like a demon that would regularly possess me, keeping me from doing the amazing things that had to be done to raise me from mediocrity.

I grew up in the rust belt, where there really is a pervasive mindset that the “little man can’t get ahead.” I really started chipping away at that paradigm when I got a grip on my finances via the Financial Peace University curriculum. Many of the processes, ideas and wisdom are adaptable to other areas of life, and I found my bow was pointing on a course that made everything seem possible. The most important revelation was that, looking back at my twenties, if I had worked harder every time I felt lazy, I might have already achieved every dream I ever had. I could have already gotten there. I’m not there now, but I could have been… if I had kicked my own ass. And if I continue doing what I’ve been doing, I’ll keep getting what I’ve been getting.

What I Need to Succeed

In a burst of creative activity, I took a Sharpie and wrote eight fundamental “needs” on every third line of a legal pad. Then I took a pen and began to fill the lines in between, and the margins, and soon every available space around these needs with actions that I could take and arguments to support them.

The end result? It’s a beautiful mess. It really has taken on an artistic aura. And it’s the most inspiring thing I’ve ever written. I have displayed it in a place in my home where I can read it (or at least parts of it) every day. And my life is better, more organized, and less prone to lethargy than ever before.

The image is probably not legible, so the full manifesto is below.

What I Need to Succeed

Avoiding (& Killing) Indecision & (Self-Imposed) Delay


(happy happy happy happy happy)

  • I’m smarter than 60% of the small business owners I see. 40% are smarter, but they don’t know me and don’t matter.
  • Feeling powerless will kill a good attitude.
  • I can. I’m able. I have done before.
  • Embrace change!
  • Be a servant.

Hopeful Spirit

  • Be excited about where God’s going to have put you five years from today. He might allow me to go through rough times, but he won’t make me stay there. He loves me! I am not a victim.
  • Find joy.
  • It’s up to you. Take responsibility.

Trust in God’s Help

  • Add to prayers: “Rid me of indecision, give me great confidence.” He put me here; He’ll give me everything I need. Obstacles are God’s gym equipment.
  • Be humble. Be a servant.
  • Worry? Is it something you can fix? Fix it or leave it alone.

Focused Effort

  • Get rid of distractions.
  • Don’t let low priority items take over my schedule.
  • Break big tasks into little ones.

An Answer to “I’m Too Tired.”

  • STAND. Ask, “Am I really tired, or just discouraged?” if it’s real fatigue, schedule some rest. If it’s not, dig out the root of discouragement. Kill it.
  • Find joy (see “Attitude”). Talk to someone who thinks you’re great (maybe even God!)
  • The Blues: Do something fun. Watch out! It’s tempting to nurse this feeling. Force yourself to smile for ten minutes.

An Answer to “I Haven’t Got Enough Time.”

  • God gives us everything we need – including enough time to get His work done. Running out of time means either I’ve mismanaged God’s gift of time, or I’m mistaken about how much time God thinks I need.
  • Overwhelmed? Two minutes of quiet, dark, alone, prayer, sit, walk, deep breaths or whatever will not make you so late or behind schedule that it matters, but it will make you think clearer.

A Tactic to Get Started

  • Break big tasks into little ones. List-making is good.
  • Be encouraged.
  • Stand up. Walk.
  • Make a short schedule mapping out the next small piece of time, like an hour.

Knowledge: The Fear-Beater

  • Fear is not a fruit of the Spirit. Dig out the root of the fear – knowing exactly what’s scary makes it smaller. Sometimes that’s all you need. Keep researching until the fear is gone, or give the fear (& the decision) to God.
  • Insecurity is childish (see “Attitude”).

Things sure have changed here on Walton’s Mountain… but some things never change, especially that creeping feeling that my to-do lists are not a voluntary plan I’ve devised for my time but rather are a sinister underworld plan concocted by demons and devils to keep me shackled to a lifestyle devoid of entertainment, peace and contentment.

In March, I erroneously spied a light at the end of the tunnel. Turns out it was an oncoming train.

Shortly after Pappy was settled into a comfortable routine, Carol and I volunteered to host Financial Peace at our church – obligating us to seventeen weeks of planning, coordinating and leadership. Now that it’s over, whew, it was one of the most fulfilling things I’ve ever taken on. I must be sure to remember how that felt when brainstorming for potential businesses I may decide to launch.

Now the pressure is on for planning the Haunt. I’ve got two months to wrap it up. My to-do list had this task being finished back in January. As usual, this looks like it may turn into another last-minute, can’t-believe-it-turned-out-this-good event.

The only other responsibility to which I’ve obligated myself is our Faith Lessons on Sunday mornings. Also very fulfilling, but a little bit of a job – not because the lessons require it, but because I feel compelled to work a little extra to make it nicer and more meaningful for everyone.

My lists may not be getting smaller, but they are consistantly interesting. And they keep me on task, aware, focused and disciplined.

Friday August 15, 2008 – 10:21am (EDT)

This quote has been credited to Mark Twain, Dave Ramsey and MacMcMillan, but most sources attribute it (or something very close to it) to Charlie “Tremendous” Jones: “You’re the same today as you will be in five years except for two things: the people you meet and the books you read.”

I have always been a ravenous reader; mostly I have read fiction, and it used to be that you would usually find me re-reading an old favorite. It was often because my reading schedule moved faster than my book-buying schedule. There’s something exasperating about having thousands of books in the house, all of which I have read at least once before, but being in a mood for something new. Lately I’ve kept stocked up, and tried to pick up five or six books at the used bookstore at a time. I’ve also discovered much more nonfiction in my rotation in the last couple of years.

A couple of months ago I found in the library’s sale bin “The End of Marketing As We Know It” by Sergio Zyman, former CocaCola executive and scapegoat for the “New Coke” mess. I still don’t know why it caught my eye, but I’m glad it did because I really enjoyed it.

Someone gave me (and everyone else on their Christmas list) Bill Bennett’s two volumes on US history, “America: The Last Great Hope”. I looked forward to it, because I have noticed that sometime in my early thirties I had developed an interest in history. It was a fun read, but every once in awhile (especially when writing about events in his own lifetime) he would let his personal prejudices slip through. To his credit, the rest of it was an entertaining and unbiased look at world events and America’s place in them.

I am currently re-reading The Screwtape Letters (C.S. Lewis). This book continues to creep me out, because I feel like I have fallen in real life for some of the diabolical tactics that Lewis’ fictitious demons employ. I’m currently leading a Bible study on this book; hopefully this will give me a chance to scripturally work out some of my doubts, questions and heretic thinking on the subject of Satan and evil. Something about teaching a subject helps embed it into your mind quite firmly, especially if you try to be thorough doing the research. The same thing happened when I taught the high-school youth group at our previous church; it helped me put together the lessons that I wanted my own kids to learn.

I wrote this down on an index card in 2004, after observing reluctance by one of my kids to participate in one of their classes: “Learning is one of the few things, maybe the only thing, that immediately becomes easier once the decision is made to pursue it as a goal. Without that desire, it becomes only a difficult chore.”

I’ve run through all of the nonfiction books I had available and will have to find a new one soon. I should probably set aside a few minutes this week to think about what topic I would like to learn about.

Wednesday February 13, 2008 – 10:49am (EST)