If you’ve ever driven in snowy weather, you know that sometimes the car does not respond to the directions you give it through the steering wheel. Achieving a goal can give you a similar experience.
If you’ve set a goal, and you’re doing all you know to steer yourself toward it, then it can be unnerving to find yourself heading instead towards something else. It can be as frightening as driving on the freeway in winter weather at high speeds, and hitting a patch of black ice.
When we lived in Utah, I had that experience more than once. Gratefully, I had been taught that if your car begins to spin out of control, you’re supposed to momentarily turn the steering wheel into the direction of the swerve.
In other words, if I want to drive straight, but the back of my car is skidding to the left (causing me to be pointed to the right), that I should turn my steering wheel to the left, just long enough to regain traction with the road, and then I’ll be in control again to straighten out. It’s not an intuitive thing to do, when you’ve lost control of your car. The instinctive thing to do is to freeze and slam on your brakes. But doing that actually exacerbates the problem, and can accelerate the spin. Even putting on the gas can accelerate the out-of-control-ness.
You might be feeling like your financial life is spinning out of control, and instinct might tell you to just STOP everything (slam on the brakes). But giving up on your goals and ceasing to do the things that kept you going before will only compound the problem, causing your financial life to spin out of control even faster.
Likewise, you shouldn’t just put on the gas, barreling forward, without paying attention to the indicators around you that say “something isn’t quite right”. A person who is spinning out of control financially has to notice, so that the right response can be taken.
Steer into the swerve.
When your financial vehicle isn’t going in the direction you expect it to be going, don’t ignore it. Face it. To face it is to steer into it for a period of time, just long enough to regain traction and then you can take it where you want it to go. In real terms, to steer into the swerve means to regroup. Look at your inflows and outflows, and rein it in. Come to terms with your situation, but before you can do that, you have to get perfectly clear on what your situation is.
If things are tough, and your financial picture isn’t what you want it to be, you’re not alone. Here is an opportunity. Find out where you’re at, face it, let yourself feel disappointment, and always have an expectation that you’ll find a way to come out on top in the long run. Coming to terms with what is, and then allowing yourself to find gratitude in simple things, is what it means to steer into the swerve, just long enough to regain traction.
Once you have stopped your vehicle from spinning out of control, you can once again point it in the right direction, and press on. Re-establish those goals of yours. Maybe they have evolved over the years a bit. Maybe you’ve discovered that certain goals don’t have the same luster they once had. This is the perfect time to look deeply at the things that bring you the greatest joy and happiness, and set some goals to achieve greater success in those areas.
A patch of black ice can be one of the greatest things that has ever happened to you on your journey IF it helps you get more clear on what you intend to accomplish while you’re a resident here on planet Earth.