Take The First Step

Throughout my career, I’ve noticed a fascinating contradiction: the gap between what we know and what we actually do. I’ve come to realise that the most effective financial guidance must be rooted in an understanding of human behaviour, not just in number crunching, because humans are a strange bunch, endlessly intriguing and often unpredictable.

It’s widely understood that to achieve financial independence, one must diligently save, invest, budget, pay off debts etc. Yet, despite this knowledge, few actually apply these principles with the discipline and consistency necessary to reap the benefits. It’s one thing to grasp a concept in theory; it’s entirely different to apply it practically in our lives.

Interestingly, the obstacle to wealth creation is often not the financial strategy itself, but rather our own human nature—we are the unreliable variable. Despite understanding what could improve our lives, we find it difficult to act on this knowledge. I constantly must fight with clients to do what is in their best interest, to act in accordance with what they told me what their priority.

“We are limited only by our unwillingness to take action.” – Steven Redhead

Despite living in the information age, many people struggle with money management because this is a skill that must be applied, not just learnt. They are aware of the steps they need to take but often find themselves paralyzed, unable to move forward.

Rather than taking tangible steps to address their financial issues, many look for the silver bullet — shortcuts, master plans, niche products, or groundbreaking ideas that promise an easier way out.

That’s not how life works. You can’t think yourself out of life’s problems, you actually have to do the work. People realise this intellectually, but that doesn’t stop them from trying again and again and again.  

Intellectually, they know that they need to save, invest, budget, pay off debt blah blah blah…Do the actual boring work! But knowing this doesn’t actually make it happen. Knowledge is not the same as action.

The fundamental principle for accumulating wealth is straightforward: spend less than you earn. The larger the gap between earning and spending, the quicker your wealth grows. Yet, for most people, this simple truth is not enough to achieve wealth. Knowledge without action is essentially useless.

Realising our dreams requires more than just dreaming; it necessitates action. But the question arises: how do we bridge the gap between knowing and doing, especially when motivation is scarce? The solution I’ve found is somewhat counterintuitive.

“Either you run the day, or the day runs you.” – Jim Rohn

I found it in David Burns’ book titled Feeling Good.

It has played a crucial role in my personal growth, particularly in overcoming procrastination driven by fear. In his book, Burns describes the problem.

“Individuals who procrastinate frequently confuse motivation and action. You foolishly wait until you feel in the mood to do something. Since you don’t feel like doing it, you automatically put it off. Your error is your belief that motivation comes first, and then leads to action and success. But it is usually the other way around; action must come first, and the motivation comes later.”

Action primes the pump. It creates momentum. It instils confidence.

When I find myself delaying tasks, waiting for motivation that doesn’t appear, I end up feeling even more stuck. But I also know that if I just take one small step forward, motivation will follow. To one degree or another, we’re all like this.

With time, I’ve learned to better translate my intellectual understanding into action. When I think back to all the years I wallowed in debt, I see now that much of my trouble was an unwillingness to act. I had all the knowledge I needed to work my way out of debt and build wealth.

I understood the problem intellectually for many years, but I didn’t do anything about it. I wasn’t willing to put in the work. I only wanted “silver bullets” — solutions that eliminated the debt instantly.

It was only once I stopped thinking about the problem and started taking action that things got better. When I buckled down and actually did the work, an amazing thing happened. I got out of debt! Shocking, right?

“Start by doing what’s necessary, then what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” -Saint Francis

This month, my focus is on action. I’ve been reflecting on what actions have historically worked for me in various aspects of my life—financial management, physical fitness, and writing. Now, I’m considering how to apply this knowledge actively.

Think about where you’re currently feeling stuck. What do you know you should be doing but have been avoiding due to a lack of motivation? What small step could you take today to improve your situation?

How can I assist you in taking that first step? Feel free to get in touch and let me know.

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