No B.S Friday: It’s not your job to be the Goldilocks of motivation
“I just can’t get them to take money seriously. And we’re drowning.”
A while ago I was mentoring someone who was making good yards with their own financial story, but was frustrated that their partner just ‘didn’t seem to get it.’
It was like there was only two states: denial or despair.
They would go about their lives as if everything were fine. That there was money in the bank when there wasn’t. That their income would stretch when it wouldn’t.
They’d even spend money on silly treats, seemingly unaware that their partner was scratching and saving every cent they could.
And then their partner would confront them about it. They would show them the bills that were due and how much money was actually in the account. They would total up their expenses for the year, and show how it was more than they were earning.
They had to fight hard, but eventually they brought reality home.
And what happened then?
Despair. There was no hope. Everything was lost. Life was unfair. Capitalism was evil. It was their parent’s fault. It was even their partner’s fault.
“How dare you present me with this mathematical truth? Have you no heart?”
And so blissful denial gave way to can’t-even-get-out-of-bed-level despair.
And my mate was getting a bit sick of it.
“How do I strike the right balance? How do I frame the urgency of our situation in such a way that it inspires corrective action, without plunging them into despair and defeat?”
The answer? You can’t.
Because avoiding action is actually the point. Avoiding responsibility is the point.
Denial is a defensive mechanism. When you refuse to look at the facts honestly, then you’re not compelled to do anything.
But despair is a defensive mechanism too.
When you are finally forced to face facts, you are compelled to take action… unless you tell yourself that the situation is so beyond hope that no action is needed because it’s all too late or too unfair or whatever.
And so you can’t take this on. This isn’t about your ability to frame it in the perfect way – harsh enough to inspire action, but not so harsh as to trigger despair.
That’s not about you. You’re not the Goldilocks of motivation.
It’s about them. It’s about their determination to be in one state or the other.
And it’s about their determination to avoid responsibility.
So call it out.
Call out that avoidance strategy for what it is and don’t let them get away with it.
It won’t be easy. It lives at the level of habit and it lives deep. They won’t be conscious that that’s what they’re doing.
But until they’re ready to take responsibility and to take action, they’re not much good to you.