Monday was the Iowa caucus. I think some of the great things that come out of this early campaign stop are the one-on-one conversations candidates get to have with everyday people.
Many of you might have seen a video recently that went viral on social media capturing an interaction between presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren and an Iowa voter. In the video, a blue-collar man confronts the senator and explains that over the past 10 years he has worked double shifts, not taken vacations, and saved every dime he could to put his daughter through college without debt. He then contrasts this with his buddy who spent all his money on cars, trips and other frivolous things.
With clear frustration in his tone, he questions the fairness of the government bailing out his friend who had made the wrong choices, while penalizing him or making the right ones.
I’m not going to comment on the wisdom of a federal student loan forgiveness program. That discussion can be saved for another day. However, regardless of one’s political ideology, I think most people can understand this man’s frustration and sympathize with his feeling like a sucker.
I experienced a similar feeling in the aftermath of the housing crisis in 2008. At the time, I was working as a server at a restaurant. During that difficult time, I picked up lots of extra shifts to make my monthly house payment. At the same time, other people I knew were receiving help with their mortgages because they had bought more home than they could afford, or were getting huge tax credits for buying a foreclosed home. Much like this Iowa voter, I too felt bitter about the way in which I felt the system was screwing me over for being responsible.
However, I have learned over time a very simple fact. Life isn’t always fair. There are always going to be things that go your way and things that don’t. But if you take the initiative to work hard, make wise decisions and do the right thing, it will pay off in the end. It’s true you might miss out on some freebies along the way, but ultimately, you will be far better off than the person who is constantly just waiting for somebody else to save them.
I believe this proactivity is really one of the secrets to being successful in life. You must happen to life rather than waiting for life to happen to you. I’m not alone in this viewpoint. Many studies confirm that one’s locus of control plays a huge role in all aspects of a person’s life. In her book “From Fear to Flow,” psychologist Jannica Heinstrom points out that people who believe internal factors are the primary causes of success or failure tend to be healthier physically, emotionally and financially. In other words, your mindset truly does matter.
I know it sounds like a cliché, but Henry Ford was accurate when he said “whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.”
Many of you right now are probably concerned about various areas of your own finances. Whether you’re concerned about a market crash wiping out your retirement savings, the solvency of a pension or social security, rising health costs, or mounting debts, your mindset is of the utmost importance. Will you chose to take action, or will you wait for a bailout?
Life is full of challenges, and everybody needs help from time to time. But, the more responsibility you take for your own future, the more likely that future will be a good one.