Trust Services and SIMPLIFY
Making More Room for Margin
The following is written by Russ Crosson, Executive Vice Chairman and EVP of Ronald Blue Trust.
As I have reflected not only on the passing of another year, but on life in general, I have concluded that we are living in a time different than any other in history. It’s not only because of the economic environment or the current political craziness, but because most of us live in a perpetual state of overload.
According to Richard Swenson’s book,
overload occurs when one’s limits exceed their resources in any area of life: money, time, talent, and so forth. If your budget exceeds your income, you have no margin. If your commitments exceed your time, you have no margin. If you make commitments beyond your talents, you have no margin.
How did we get here? Why is today so different? In the past 20 years, demands have increased exponentially, conspiring to squeeze out any “air” we might have in our schedule and our lives. In my lifetime alone, we have gone from rotary phones attached to the wall to phones in our pockets. Instead of seeing movies in the theater, we can stream them “on demand.” We don’t have three TV channels but hundreds; our mailboxes are full of junk mail and rarely anything personal. Restaurant meals have replaced eating meals at home, and we can shop 24/7. Of course, we also have Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and a myriad of other apps that constantly overload us with information.
None of these options is bad in and of itself but taken together, and if not kept in check, they will cause us to run faster and faster all the while missing life in the process. It’s been said that our company helps people manage their money so they can manage their lives.” We do this by helping our clients have positive financial margin, not just to have more money, but hopefully to have more time and more life. However without positive financial margin, it’s very difficult to have the time necessary to build the proper balance of leisure and work. Since leisure is freedom and work is obligation, if we are constantly striving to pay the next bill, we are constantly under obligation.
Organizational experts often advise those struggling with today’s demands to have a “to-don’t list” in addition to a “to-do list.” We need to recognize the things that are distracting us from reaching our truest objectives in life.
So here’s my challenge for you (and me) as we prepare not only for the coming year but for the rest of our lives. Let’s give ourselves a reset by clearing away things that detract from our margin.
Unload your debt. Debt always sentences you to a lower lifestyle in the future. So make it your goal to get out of all debt, including your home.
Unload your desire to have more. In Philippians 4, we are told to be content with what we have, whether we have much or little. The desire to have more will always keep your finances on edge, your margin stretched, and your paycheck stretched beyond its limits. Spending less than you make and doing it for a long time is the key to financial independence and margin in life. Live on a budget.
Unload some of the time commitments you have made. Learn to say “no” more and “yes” less. Remember you don’t have to do everything put before you. We all go through different seasons of life, and it’s perfectly okay to say no in some seasons and yes in others.
Unload some of the stuff you have. Both of my parents passed away in the past year, and as we decluttered their home to prepare it for sale, I was reminded of what I heard James Dobson say years ago: “It all goes back in the box.” My wife, Julie, and I have started to clean out some of our own stuff so it won’t be a burden on our children later. This process has in turn given us more freedom because stuff requires time to keep up and thus steals time from our lives.
Unload some of your surplus. Most of us have more than we need. Maybe in 2017 we should increase our giving and not build bigger barns. Be rich towards God and not a fool as described in Luke 12. There is freedom and margin in giving.
Let’s make 2017 a year when our resources exceed our limits and restore margin to our lives.
Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!
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