If you want to make a big change. Pay off debt. Build wealth. Lose weight. Start a habit. Or break one.
You must understand the difference between lying and telling the truth. I’m not just talking about lying to other people. Or about lying to ourselves.
I’m talking about pretending. Faking it. Wishing it was true. Trying to sound optimistic. Looking at the bright side. Acting ‘as if.’ Exaggerating. Minimizing. Fudging. Rounding up. Or down. Bullshitting. Fabricating. Distorting. Spinning. Misrepresenting. Omitting details. Cheating. Being polite. Playing nice. Putting on a smile. Fantasizing. Embellishing. Romanticizing. And all the other ways that we manipulate strings of words in our minds and contort our lives to try to make ourselves (and other people) feel better.
To really change. We’ve got to understand where the truth ends and a lie begins. And we’ve got to learn that this isn’t a fine line. Or a flimsy one. Or a flexible one.
It’s a big fat line marked in stinky indelible black ink. One side: reality.One side: fiction. It’s the fucking truth. Like red is red. And humans breathe air.
And yes - you can banter with me all day long about the varieties of red and the differences between scarlet, crimson, vermillion and burgundy.
But red is never cobalt, azure or turquoise. It’s red. You know what that means. And so do I.
And you could say that our air is really a composition of nitrogen, oxygen, argon, carbon dioxide, along with other trace gases. And yes, I agree. Humans breathe that. That’s what we call air.
Whether you call it ‘air’ or a mix of gases - you still will die if you solely breathe carbon monoxide. That’s the truth.
You can make the truth complicated if you want. You can argue with it. You can argue with me about it. You can argue with yourself about it. But you won’t change it.
Reality will still be reality. And we can’t go about making big. Substantial. Meaningful. Change in our lives. If we don’t tell the truth.
We can’t pretend our way into awesome. The nearest we can get with pretending is synthetic-plastic-tasteless mediocrity.
To get where we really want to go. Whether it’s a money goal. Or a weight goal. A quitting or a starting goal. We’ve got to know the truth. Tell the truth. Live the truth.
In the money world, it means knowing what we owe. Who we owe. When. And most importantly: why. It means knowing the definition of debt: money that is owed to someone else. As in: real cash that will need to be paid to a real entity at a real place and time.
The truth about debt isn’t the monthly payment. The truth about debt is the whole enchilada. The total pay-off amount. This goes for student loans, mortgages, car loans and leases (yes, with all the fees and penalties). This goes for finance charges in all sizes: 0% to 100%.
If you owe someone else the money. Then you’re in debt. Whether you’re up to date on your payments or not.
It means knowing the balance in every single one of our accounts. It means knowing what we’ve spent and why. It means knowing what we earn, how we earn it and why. In detail. It means knowing our exact overhead. It means accuracy and deliberate consciousness. What every single piece of our lives cost. It means understanding the value of a customer, a job, a paycheck. It means knowing our own self-worth and our net worth.
It isn’t an opinion. It’s a number. With a dollar sign.
It’s not the money that you expect to earn. It’s not the money that someone else owes you. It’s not the money sitting in your bank account right now that you’re saying is “yours” when it has already RSVPed for someone else’s party.
Your net worth is the money that you’re left with after you liquidate and you pay your creditors. It’s what you’re financially worth if you add up everything you own and subtract everything you owe.
Your net worth is the only money that you really own. Whether you tell yourself the truth about money or not. Your Net Worth will.
When you understand the truth about money, it’s much easier to pay off debt. You can see that the money in your bank account doesn’t belong to you when you owe someone else. It’s just pretending to belong to you. You can see that the money that someone else promises to pay you doesn’t belong to you either. You start to see the truth. Reality. And what owning money really means.
Upside-down mortgages, car leases and students loans become very clear. There’s simple math involved. There is a dollar amount at the end of the equation.
In the world of weight loss, many people think the scale is the truth. I disagree.
The scale tells you the truth no more than your ATM receipt gives you an accurate checking balance.
If you write a check for $20,000, stick it in an envelope, drop it in the nearest mailbox and then rush over to your bank and withdraw twenty bucks. You absolutely know the stated balance isn’t accurate. You know you have an outstanding check.
We get this easily when it comes to money. If we have outstanding transactions (deposits or withdrawals), I don’t care how much you stare at that receipt - the balance isn’t true.
The receipt should read: “With the amount of information I have, at this given time, I believe your balance is: $ ______ (+/-) infinity.”
And that’s about as accurate as a scale can ever be as well. It is not the word of God. It does not accurately measure your worth, your size, your appearance or anything friggin useful. All it will tell you is that your human matter (bones, muscles, tendons, tissue, waste), plus food, plus water, plus chemicals weighs x amount at this given time.
If we could only have the same resolve when we see the number on the scale as we do when we look at the number at the bottom of our ATM receipt.
We don’t look at that receipt and go “Woohoo! I wrote that check for $20,000 and I got away with it. Sweet! $20k of free money!” We know in due time, that check will clear and that the bank balance will reflect this withdrawal.
Nor do we look at that receipt and say “WTF? I was just paid $10,000 by my client - why the hell isn’t it showing on my balance?” We know that we actually have to deposit that check. Wait for it to clear. And in due time, the money will be available to us.
We know that these transactions don’t magically appear on our receipt. We also know that they don’t magically disappear either.
But for some reason, millions of women believe that fat does just that. It magically disappears when the scale says one number. And magically appears when the scale says a different number.
This is delusional. Crazy-making. Straight-jacket logic. And, it’s time to understand the truth.
Here’s the truth: sometimes we overeat and under-exercise and the scale goes down. Yes, down. This doesn’t mean we’ve gotten away with anything. This doesn’t mean that it isn’t being accounted for. Or that we are beating the system. We’re not.
Another truth: sometimes we workout and eat mindfully and the scale goes up. I know! Annoying but true. That doesn’t mean we’re being punished. Or that it’s not working. Or that we aren’t directly creating a healthy body. We are.
What the scale should say is “With the amount of information I have, at this given time, I believe your weight to be ______ (+/-) infinity.”
And that. Just isn’t factual enough to be the truth.
The truth about your body is the way you look. It’s how your clothes fit. It’s how your lungs work. It’s how your heart pumps. It’s how fast you can run. Or how far you can walk.
It’s about so much more than a friggin number on a little box.
Telling the truth means knowing about the food we eat in detail. How much, when and why. It means telling the truth about the ingredients in the food, the preparation of the food. Whether it’s grilled or fried. Whether it’s whole or processed. It means opening our eyes and refusing to be conveniently ignorant.
Telling the truth means knowing the facts about exercise without exaggeration or embellishment. It requires a visceral connection with your lungs. With your own heart beat. With your own sweat. It means knowing the actual value of physical exertion. When to push harder and when not to.
The truth can be measured. It is a half-cup. Or a tablespoon. It’s an ounce. It’s a mile. A half-hour. It’s more reps. It’s a pant size. It’s an inch.
It’s a calorie: the measurement of energy held in a unit of mass that is being stored on your body. And the truth is what is required to transform that stored energy into something else. Sweat. Heat. Air.
Whether you tell the truth to yourself. Or not. Your body will. Your finances will. Your life will. If you want to create big change in your life. It’s about knowing yourself. Knowing the truth. And telling it. It’s about stopping the lies. The pretending. The fudging of the numbers. The making-it-sound-prettier-than-it-really-is.
It means coming to terms with who you are. Where you are. And why you are here.
And from this place. You can go anywhere.
Join me for a special class series The Weight of Money: How to Get your Body and Bank Out of Debt offered exclusively to the members of Money Love & Life (#Rowdies) throughout June, July and August 2012. This post is Tool #1 (of 50 - yes 50 tools to help get your body and your bank out of debt)