When Charlie met Frank at a bowling league in November 1998, they hit it off instantly and became the best of friends. Charlie had always been a hard worker, sometimes working two or three jobs as a plumber and an electrician. He made a good living, but never seemed to save enough to get him closer to financial freedom. Now in his fifties, Charlie had the expectation that he would always have to work to make ends meet.
Frank, on the other hand, was a lifetime firefighter. Though he never had an income over $80,000 a year, he saved every month and socked away enough money to have financial freedom at the age of sixty. His idea of retirement was the ability to work by choice not requirement. Now that he has “retired,” Frank is actually busier than ever—volunteering at a soup kitchen, helping with the children’s ministry at his church, and helping lower-income families complete home repairs they could never afford on their own.
Though ten years separate Frank and Charlie, they have a ton in common and spend many hours a month together fishing, hiking, going to ball games, and bowling. Charlie could not grasp how Frank was able to live so well in retirement. He often joked that he would never be able to retire and could never imagine the financial freedom that Frank has.
As long as you cannot imagine it, your dream will never come true. Self-defeating thoughts and self-imposed ceilings limit your financial progress. Your thoughts and attitudes will determine your success. If you have no strength to overcome this mind-set, you will fail to reach the potential God intended for your life. It is not a lack of resources or a shortage of talent that prevents you from achieving wealth; it is the barrier that resides inside your mind. Your thoughts can keep you from living the financial life God has prepared for you. You will never change your financial future until you change your thinking. Do you think God will want to provide you with new, exciting, and fresh ideas if you continue having negative thoughts and a bad attitude?
Envisioning your dreams coming true is a huge key to your success. Have you ever seen the movie Rudy?1 It is based on the true story of Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger. He grew up in a mill town and dreamed of playing football at the University of Notre Dame, for his dad’s favorite team. The obstacles facing Rudy were tremendous, to say the least. A few barriers included Rudy’s poor grades and lack of money to attend Notre Dame, insufficient talent to play football, and not having the physical size (Rudy was 5´7˝ and weighed 165 pounds) to play football for the Fighting Irish. Instead of chasing his dreams, Rudy takes a job at the local steel mill and settles for mediocrity until his best friend, Pete, is killed in an explosion at the mill.
It is then Rudy decides to make his dreams of attending Notre Dame and playing college football for the Fighting Irish a reality. He is ridiculed by friends and family for his idea and is even rejected by Notre Dame. He could have let bygones be bygones, but instead goes to a small junior college, hoping to qualify for a transfer to the university.During his final semester of eligibility for transfer, he is granted admission to Notre Dame. After walking onto football practice tryouts, Rudy convinces the coach to give him a spot on the football practice team, where Rudy exhibits more drive and desire than some of his big-name varsity teammates.
Ultimately, it is this drive and determination that get Rudy to fully realize his dream—playing in a game. In the final game of the season, the coach is persuaded to insert Rudy (after all the players and later the fans chant, “Rudy . . . Rudy . . . Rudy . . .”). Rudy gets in the game and sacks the opposing quarterback to end the game. Rudy is then carried off the field by his teammates and becomes the last Notre Dame player to have such a distinction.
This was no accident. There was no stroke of luck. Rudy saw what he wanted and made it happen. He first had a dream, and then he stopped at nothing to make his dream come true. He could have quit very easily, but his determination and desire to change were overwhelming. Rudy believed he could do it when no one else did.
Wanting to change and actually changing are two separate paths. If the desire to change is small, then changing will be difficult. However, if your desire is overwhelming, change will become inevitable. It all begins in your mind. If you continually allow negative thoughts and a poor attitude to dictate your life, you will stay imprisoned in a life of defeat and failure. However, if you see yourself achieving wealth, becoming successful, and being closer to God, nothing can keep you from reaching your goals.
Over time, if you truly desire to change, you can wipe your financial slate clean and begin a new journey. The road to success begins with examining the past in order to prevent repeating mistakes. Do not let your past barriers prevent future financial progress. If you truly desire to make changes, you will need to develop new habits. In order to unlearn bad behaviors, you must understand the reasons why you’ve made certain choices. If you have poor money-management skills, you should seek to learn the roots of those habits. Have you ever wondered why some people seem destined for greatness while others are dead broke? Expect God to do great things in your financial life if you put Him first and trust in Him.
God is constantly trying to plant new seeds in your heart to help you grow and expand beyond your current capabilities. Like Peter, who stepped out of the boat toward Jesus and walked on water, you have to take the first step in faith. Fresh ideas and a new outlook go a long way. Eighty percent of your results will come from your own changed behaviors and attitudes about money. If you don’t change your behavior, your results cannot change. It is simply a matter of cause and effect. No matter what your financial situation, you should always keep in mind that there is hope.