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Stand Out! Don’t be Afraid, Ditch Normal
I know, this goes against everything your mom and common sense told you since you were a toddler. Everyone wants to be seen as normal, right? Normal means fitting in, being like everyone else, part of the majority.
Well, no more, at least when it comes to these three aspects of your life. Because today many people find it normal to be overweight and in poor health, to settle in relationships and to have debt and little or no net worth.
Normal Health? No way.
The new normal in America is if you are in the norm, you are very overweight, maybe obese. Because you are so uncomfortable, you rarely walk or do any other kind of exercise.
If you are normal in America, it means you eat fast food regularly, smoke, eat very little fruit and vegetable and barely know how to cook. In fact, you also eat out a lot and your fridge has mostly soft drinks, beer, some frozen pizza and other processed food.
If you are normal, you have latent heart problems and or type 2 diabetes, and there is a good chance you will die fairly young or spend your last years in a wheelchair.
It’s become normal in America to have obese kids who slurp on soft drinks, watch tv or play on computer most of the time and are addicted to junk food. Today’s youngs may die younger than their parents because their bad health starts when they are so young.
Where do you fit in that picture? If you find that this is a pretty accurate description of your health, you can change it. It’s quite simple really although it’s not necessarily easy.
First, ditch the junk food. Invest in some fruits and vegetables. Then, start cooking. And start walking. Identify your triggers for eating badly. Attack them one by one. Make friends with people who eat healthy. Make friends with people who walk or exercise and value their health. Meal planning can help you eat healthier.
Someone said “we become like the 5 persons we spend the most time with.” Choose wisely. It’s a lot easier to live healthy when we surround ourselves with people who do likewise.
Will you need to sacrifice? Absolutely but the rewards will be priceless. It’s not going to be super easy although you can make it easier on yourself by getting into the “I am doing this because it’s good for me”.
Normal relationships? No way
The new normal in terms of relationships is scary. I am referring here to the violence in teens’s dating as well as the increasingly separation of sex from loving relationships in the world of teenagers. If you have tweens or teens, you will want to read this article.
Normal marriage? Well there again, almost half the marriages end in divorce, and even scarier, of those who remain married a scant 15% are happy. Yes there are fewer happy marriages today, but the good news is that the happy ones are happier than happy marriages were “in the old days”.
If you fall into the happy marriage category, I would like to hear from you about what you think contributed to the success of your marriage.
Did you recognize yourself in the above unhappy crowd? If you are married and unhappy, do find help to see if the marriage can be rebuilt on more solid grounds. Give counselling your best shot. Do some inner work. Make friends with couples who have a happy, healthy loving relationship.
Work on your issues, from childhood or from previous relationships. If it does not change things, love yourself enough to end the union and give yourself and your spouse a chance at healthier love. When you love yourself, settling is not an option.
If you are divorced, do some inner work. Good relationships grow out of good friendship and, surprise, healthy self-love. When you love yourself, you’ll know what’s good for you and you won’t settle.
Normal money life? Definitely No way
I hope you are in the minority in this one too. In the past 10 – 20 years, it has become normal to have debt. Everyone has debt? Right? I am not talking about student debt when you get out of college, or a reasonable, aka “within your means” mortgage.
What I am talking about is debt for the trip South in the winter, the debt for the above your means car, the credit card debt for furnishing your new house with top of the line stuff; credit card debt for eating out or going for drinks, or buying shoes and clothes you don’t need, etc. etc. etc.
I once worked in financial services – life insurance and mutual funds and I remember meeting families deep in debt who were refinancing their mortgage to redo the kitchen – not that there was anything wrong with the kitchen, except it was a bit dated. That’s bad debt. I remember one family in particular who had $150,000 in credit card debt – and wanted to remodel the kitchen!!!
50% of the population is a mere $400 from not being able to pay the rent. Credit card debt is at its highest, with the average credit card balance being $16,000. In a study, when asked if they could pay for a $400 emergency, 47% of respondents said they would have to borrow or sell something to meet that payment! See more data:
Same story in Canada: the Canadian Payroll Association has been reporting that close to 50 per cent of employees would find it difficult to meet their financial obligations if their salary or wages were delayed by a single week.
In another study only 38% of Americans could cover a $1,000 emergency with their savings. More than 55% of households don’t have savings to cover even one month’s of expenses, (my post on why you need an emergency fund).
Where do you fit in that picture? If you feel like moving on because the numbers hit too close to home, don’t. This is your chance to start reversing the course of your financial history: lower your living expenses and increase your income and your savings and get out of debt for good.
Where do you start? First sit down. Tally all your debts. Tally your monthly expenses. Cut all unnecessary expenses: cable, cell, gym membership, outings. Then look at where you need to cut some more. You may need to move, or take the kids out of private school, or cut back on extra-cullicular activities. You need to start bringing your lunch to work, and coffee from home. You may need to change what you buy at the grocery store: less meat, more generic, bake the cake and muffins.
You also need to put more money to debt repayment. Contrary to what Gordon Ramsey advises, I say put more money toward the debt that has the highest interest rate. That’s how you will save more money.
And of course, put the credit card on ice and pay cash for everything. The cash envelope method can keep you having a tight reign on your money.
For more on paying debt, making a budget, saving money, see my other posts.
It’s a big undertaking to tackle debt. It take courage and discipline and the payoff will be proportionate to the effort.
In summary: value your health, value your relationship and value your money.
If you find this post useful, please let me know and share with your network and on social media to help me reach more people.