When I got on board with The Total Money Makeover and saw how greatly it changed my life I wanted to share it with anyone and everyone. It was so revolutionary to me, yet so simple, I thought that everyone could and should be doing it. I even got a copy of the book specifically for the purpose of lending it out to other people. I was so enthusiastic about these wild ideas of not using credit cards, living below your means and on a budget that some people thought I’d joined a cult.
Seeing how much better my life was after getting on a budget I just couldn’t understand how other people wouldn’t want to have the same benefit in their own lives. After all, I know plenty of people who are always complaining about how broke they are, yet are constantly going out and spending money with seemingly no plan at all. Why didn’t they understand that this was a better way? Don’t they want their situation to improve?
Then one day as I was droning on and on about Dave Ramsey this, budget that, Baby Step 3b, etc. someone asked me why I thought I was better than they were. This really hit me hard because in my enthusiasm I completely missed that others could have interpreted what I felt was heartfelt enthusiasm for something that had a positive impact on my life as me claiming that because they weren’t doing it, that they were inferior. I tried to explain that it was not my intent to put them down, but it didn’t matter what my intentions were, it’s how my actions were being perceived.
After taking time to reflect on my actions and how they were being received I decided that instead of trying to meddle in other people’s business I’d just keep doing my own thing and if someone wanted to know what I was doing I would share it with them. The opportunity to talk about things I’m doing to make positive changes financially hasn’t come up much (I’ve always wondered why there’s such a stigma with talking about money, but that’s a topic for another time), but when I started tweeting my weight loss once per week I started getting private messages pretty regularly asking how I did it.
All of this taught me that you can’t push a rope, you have to pull it. If someone wants your help they’ll ask for it, but you can’t make anyone want to do something they’re not ready for. In the past I was going around telling people what they should be doing, as if I knew more about their own situation than they did. Now, if it comes up in conversation, I’ll mention things that I’ve done and how they’ve helped me. If someone is inspired by that and wants to learn more, I’m always willing to help. Hopefully by changing my approach and keeping my nose out of people’s business, I’m not only helping more people, but I also appearing like less of a jerk.