Last week I came across a few discussions on Twitter between various bloggers. Some of them were frankly fairly vehement discussions. And yet I choose to weigh in. I’m not sure if my thoughts were appreciated but I hope my point was heard. Sometimes it all comes down to focusing on what you control when you can control it. Then it’s just about being the best you.
Impact of Positive Thinking Versus Social Inequality
The first such discussion was around the impact of positive thinking on ones outcomes as written in this post by Half Life Theory. The concern from some in the discussion was overlooking the impact of societal biases and inequality of treatment in favor of mindset. While I can’t speak for the author’s view of biases based on the post, I can tell you I agree with the general tone of the post. All else equal a positive mindset is the difference between success and failure.
You Can’t Control Social Inequality as it Applies to You
I agree for one simple reason, your mindset and social inequality are two separate things. While systemic inequalities, privilege, poverty, racism, sexism, or any other type of issue exist, you simply don’t control them. You might be able to influence them by voting or activism, but you do not control how these things apply to you. If you did they wouldn’t be systemic.
A Playing Field of One, Be the Best “You” You Can Be
So all else is not equal in terms of treatment of individuals. It’s not an equal playing field. But that doesn’t matter when you have a playing field of one. For things that you control you must do your best to be the best you can be. Not the best someone else. Not the best compared to someone else. The best you. You have a responsibility to yourself to be the best you. If you have improved yourself a single step by improving your mindset, then you still have improved.
You Control Your Mindset
You know what one thing you do control in the pursuit of being the best you? Your mindset. Your mindset is the single most effective tool you have to control your own outcome. When the choice is you with a can do mindset and you with a discouraged mindset, you with a can do mindset will win every time. Be the winning you.
Now this is not in any way a discouragement to be active, vote, or have your voice heard on the issue of inequality. It is however a strong plea that when pushing your own career you separate your causes from your attitude about yourself. The future you will thank you.
The discussion didn’t end with social inequality though. The second discussion came in the form of a question from another Twitter poster. Her question, why some bloggers ignore the income portion of the 3 legged stool to financial success. For those who do not know, that 3 legged stool is earn, save and invest. She has a legitimate concern in noting that your earnings are a significant portion of your outcome.
You Don’t Always Control Income
But… Your earnings are also the only leg of the stool you do not fully control all the time. There are many times in your career where increasing earnings won’t be possible. Perhaps you’ve hit the top of your career pay range, are just starting out with no experience, work in a defined raise environment such as a government employee, or even can’t make the sacrifice required to go to the next pay level without major detriment. In these situations you have little to no direct control over your pay.
You Always Control Investments and Savings
But guess what. You still control your investments and savings, except for rare cases like medical issues, under all circumstances. Sure you might not be able to save as much as someone making 200K a year. But you can save more than you saved the last week. Again focus on that which you control and being the best “You” you can be. You with your present pay saving 5% is better off financially then you at your present pay saving 4%. That is the game you should be playing.
Focusing in on Impact
The next step after focusing on what you control is focusing on what has the most impact. So if you make $200K a year already but spend $200K a year, your biggest bang for the buck is to focus on that spending. If you make 50K a year but have a long pay curve ahead of you, it’s probably time to focus on income. And if you work for the government with set yearly pay increases, we’re back to the expenses again.
Focus where you have the control and the biggest impact. Then measure only the things for which you have control. Be the best “You” you can be.