Nah – you don’t really want a shortcut

Would you like to get something you want – without having to work for it?  Maybe you’d like a 3000 sq ft house instead of the cramped 1600 of the one you have now.  Maybe you’d love to be driving a three-yr-old car instead of the fifteen year old clunker you’re driving now.  Wouldn’t it be great if someone just gave you what you’re wanting?  Maybe, maybe not.

My granddaughter Clara is six years old.  Recently she decided she wanted her own camera.  But instead of Claras cafejust popping over to Best Buy to pick up the latest, coolest version, her parents decided to help her earn the camera.  This is a shot of Clara selling her muffins – yes, she really is pretty good at baking them with a little help from Mom.  She knew we would have a captive audience at our recent Coaching Mastery event here on our property.  In one morning break she made $11.25 in sales and $15.25 in tips – okay, our attendees are generous in encouraging her entrepreneurial spirit.

But here’s the proven principle.  Getting everything you want without working for it quickly becomes boring and unsatisfying.  Ed Diener, PhD, has spent a lifetime studying personal happiness and finds that the typical shortcut to “happiness” nearly eliminates the pleasure of arriving at our goals.  Reaching a mountain peak is exhilarating because of the effort required to get there.  Yes, some people chose to just be airlifted to the peak, and thus lose the thrill of the climb.  Happiness is a process, not a place, he explains.  The satisfaction is not in arriving, but in the journey.

Now, no one’s trying to make Clara self-sufficient at six years old but there are some clear patterns we can observe.  In The Millionaire Next Door, Thomas Stanley talks about children of wealthy parents who have grown used to getting ongoing “help” to maintain their lifestyle.  Lots of parents contribute to private schools for their grandchildren or to vacations for their children’s families.  Dr. Stanley says the statistics shows repeatedly that “the more dollars adult children receive, the fewer they accumulate, while those who are given fewer dollars accumulate more.”

Many of you who listen to my podcast have heard me talk about a young lady Joanne and I have been helping.  After giving her four cars since she was released from prison just “to help her get ahead” I realized all I was doing was allowing her to expect me to bail her out every time she needed a car.  With the last car I drew a line in the sand.  Our experiment now is that she is sending me $250 each month as her car fund.  I showed her that if she maintained her current car without tapping into this account she would have $3000 in just one year.  Two years and she’ll be at $6000 – and I’ll help her get a really nice car.  She just sent me the check to hit $1250 in her account and is so excited about this being the first time in her life when she has money in the bank.  Nothing changed in her situation – she lives in welfare housing with 3 kids and two jobs.  But her expectation of a bailout is gone – and she is rising to a new level of responsibility – and personal satisfaction.

Clara selling  muffinsYes, Clara has gotten her camera – a digital one previously used by her parents – for $25.  She sold muffins, repaid for the ingredients, made her own sign, and now has the immense satisfaction of having worked for something she wanted.  Watch how she takes care of that camera compared to a child who got it with no work involved.

What about those goals for 2014?  Enjoy the journey toward being debt-free, getting a new car or going on that first cruise.  Don’t look for a shortcut – just be creative about making big leaps of success.  Like a caterpillar straining to get out of the cocoon, you’ll discover the struggle is a necessary part of becoming what you were designed to be.

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