39 – February 8
“Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.”—Pablo Picasso
Alice Kahn wrote an article in the in which she told of walking on a beach on a cold winter’s day. A chill was in the air, fog and mist dampened her clothes as she trudged through the wet sand. There were no lifeguards on duty, and the lifeguard stations stood empty sentinels surveying their deserted kingdom.
As she passed one lifeguard station, she noticed there was a sign posted on the side of it. Curious, she detoured over to it so she could read what was written there:
Air Temperature: 58 degrees
Water Temperature: 55 degrees
Swimming Conditions: It’s there if you want it—but you gotta want it bad!
Why does success elude so many talented people? Because they don’t “want it bad” enough. There are risks to take; challenges to overcome. There are discomforts to be endured. Without a clear vision of a goal that they must have and very strong desire and will to achieve it, they will falter along the way.
One of my acting teachers years ago told me that the key to analyzing any character in a play was to ask two questions: “What do they want?” And, “What are they willing to do to get it?”
This test has served me well throughout my business career as well. There are people who are consistent and persistent in achieving their goals and others who give up when it gets difficult. Some people are even willing to commit crimes in order to get what they want. (Shark warning… Aaoougha!…Get out of the water.)
What do you want? How badly do you want it?
“I am strong and confident and I always get my goals.”
People have often asked me how I kept going when times got tough, when the world seemed dark and cold, when the living definitely wasn’t easy. What gave me the courage to continue to follow my dream?
In 1988, I bought my partners out and my bookkeeping service was going great. Then the biggest client we had – a $300,000 account -left with two weeks notice. I borrowed heavily to save the company, but the interest of 19.8% ate me alive. In 1989, my mother, uncle, aunt, and cousin’s baby died, along with two of my clients and a good friend. In 1993, I filed bankruptcy, lost my home to foreclosure, and went to Alcoholics Anonymous to stop drinking.
I started teaching Financial Stress Reduction® Workshops in 1990, and helping others helped me in my own recovery. I saw the good that I was providing to myself as well as to my students, and I was determined to keep it going, no matter what my outer circumstances were. I vowed to not only survive, but to thrive.
My bookkeeping service was my day job – we were a smaller company, but still profitable. But teaching the workshops was my dream job and I longed to go full-time with that. But it was hard to give up the regular income of the day job…
Then a client who had been with me for 13 years left, saying that I didn’t really care about the bookkeeping service any more. That hurt. Because it was the truth.
So I made the leap, and in 1995 I sold the bookkeeping service, determined to make the workshop business my full-time profession. At the time, I didn’t know if I could make it or not. I just knew I had to try.
One night, I had a very powerful nightmare. I had failed at the workshop business and had to take a job. The job I got was being the secretary to my attorney, and all day long I was getting her coffee while she was doing important things. In this dream, I was very sad and miserable.
I woke up in a cold sweat. I hated that dream. I hated that alternate reality that could be mine if I didn’t make a go of my business.
So that fear is what drove me to go to the next networking meeting when I was tired, didn’t want to be charming, and didn’t want to talk to people I didn’t know. Fear is what made me pick up the phone and make another gold call when I was afraid to hear another “no.”
The fear of the future I didn’t want was what made me grit my teeth in determination and do everything I could think of to make my business work. That plus some righteous indignation and anger at the fates for my misfortunes and that I was due some really good fortune in return!
So I did my affirmations, sent out my ships, and counted my money. I set my goals, weathered the storms, and sought balance and enlightenment along the way. I spoke, I wrote articles, I networked. As I improved, I raised my prices. I wrote a successful book, and then another. I made more money and had more fun than ever before in my life.
And 31 years later, here I am, still speaking and writing and teaching workshops (now as Zoom classes with participants from all over the world). And making lots of money. And loving my life!