Because of the strange trajectory of my life, I have friends in rural places and I have friends in cities. I have friends who are on food stamps and I have friends that are millionaires. I have friends who own their own business and I have friends who can barely keep a job.
I’ve noticed something fascinating lately among the friends that I keep regular communication with. I can almost always tell their overall financial state by the things they talk about for the future.
If they mostly talk about what they’re going to do this weekend, they’re usually struggling financially.
If they often talk about what they’re going to be doing in ten years, they’re usually in good financial shape.
“Rich people plan for three generations. Poor people plan for Saturday night.” – Gloria Steinem
Take a moment and read through the comments from your friends on Facebook. Listen to the things they say to you in passing conversation. When they mention the future, how far off is the future that they usually talk about?
I’ll see people shouting to the rooftops every single week about how they can’t wait for Friday night. Almost always, these people are drowning in debt and have a very uncertain future.
I’ll see other people discussing how they’ll cover college expenses for their newborn. Almost always, these people aren’t going to have much problem paying for that education when the time comes.
I’ll see people starting a product sales “business” and they practically demand that I buy from them right now. Almost always, they’re trying to squeeze out another dime to make ends meet for this moment alone.
I’ll see other people talking about the big dreams they have for starting a business that they can eventually hand over to their kids. Almost always, these people have financial stability in their life.
Naturally, this isn’t an absolute thing. It’s a spectrum. However, as a general trend, the more I see people talking about longer-term goals for the future, the stronger their financial backbone is.
People talk about the things that are on their minds. Similarly, people make financial choices based on what’s on their minds.
If you’re focused entirely on the short term in other aspects of your life, then your financial planning will focus on the short term. Money in hand means a more enjoyable weekend.
If you’re focused more on the long term, your financial planning will focus more on the long term. Money in hand means less debt or money to take care of future expenses.
I’d far rather find myself in the second boat than the first.
How do you move your thinking more toward long-term thinking? Be active about it. Spend a day asking yourself what you could do right now that would have the best positive impact on your life ten years down the road and try to follow those actions and that logic. Think about what kind of life you want from the future – and go over those thoughts each day when you have downtime, such as during your commute.
The more you make an active choice, the more likely it becomes the natural choice.