Who doesn’t want to be one of the cool kids?
I certainly did, and I thought if I looked like them and had all the right stuff, maybe someday they would accept me into their clique.
I didn’t want just one cool backpack or snap bracelet (don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about)–I wanted All The Backpacks and All The Snap Bracelets. If each cool girl just had one and I had all of them, I’d be that much cooler and they’d have to like me, right?
Well, none of this ever went according to plan. None of the backpacks (or shoes or clothes or accessories) was ever quite right, and I never was and never will be one of the cool kids.
Rachel Cruze knows all this and much more. In Love Your Life, Not Theirs: 7 Money Habits for Living the Life You Want, she explores the grown-up versions of our schoolyard comparisons and helps us learn how to appreciate being who we really are and stop trying to be clones of our friends.
The Joneses, They’re Everywhere!
Trying to keep up with the Joneses is nothing new, but Cruze reminds us that now the Joneses aren’t just outside our homes and down the street. They’re on our desks invading our laptops and even in our pockets hijacking our smartphones.
We don’t even have to see or talk to our friends to know what they’re up to, where they went on vacation, which shoes they bought, or even what they had for dinner.
And They Look Gooood
Not only do we know way more than we want or need to know about our friends’ amazing lives, we see only the amazing parts.
“They take fifty different shots before posting the one, perfect, “candid” beach photo…
When you get caught up in social media comparisons, you’re comparing yourself to make-believe. And when you compare yourself to make-believe, your real life will never feel good enough.”
Of course they’re only going to post the filtered versions of their lives. Would you really post an accurate #IWokeUpLikeThis photo?
Quit The Comparisons
We have no idea what happens behind the scenes in social media posts or photos.
Photos don’t show and tweets don’t mention the rain, the mosquitoes, the pants that don’t quite fit, the purse that got stolen, the disgusting leak in the hotel bathroom, or the credit card bills and debt collectors who harass our friends after the vacation is over. We can’t know that the ‘perfect’ couple is filing for divorce or just had their third miscarriage.
If we knew the truth behind the shiny facade, would we still want to be them?
Cruze gently points out that the only life we truly know is our own, and she provides suggestions for how to make the most of it.
When we focus on our own lives, we’re able to choose gratitude. Rather than jealousy or envy, we find peace and joy in what we do have. We appreciate our relationships and our memories more than our things.
“When you are content, you have a peace about your life. You may not be where you want to be yet, but you’re comfortable about where you’re heading. And, just as important, you’re able to be comfortable with where someone else is heading too…
When we’re at peace with our lives, our relationships get better because we become the kind of friend other people want to have.”
We can define our own values and pursue them while still supporting our friends as they pursue their own set of values. We can choose different paths and still cheer each other on.
Set Your Own Goals
Some of my friends want nothing more than to stay home with their kids, while others can’t wait to get back to their careers and would give anything for a nanny.
A few of my friends have been to hundreds of countries, and a few others are afraid to fly. Some want careers as writers or musicians and others enjoy numbers more than words.
Whatever your goals and priorities are, be grateful that they’re yours and yours alone. If everyone wanted to do the same things and had the same talents, the world would be a boring place and a lot of jobs would remain unfilled or be done very poorly.
The Total Money Makeover Reincarnated
Since Rachel Cruze is Dave Ramsey’s daughter, she advocates that the way to achieve these goals is through getting and staying debt-free, saving and investing as much money as possible, and practicing generosity.
The remainder of this book reviews Dave’s Total Money Makeover Baby Steps*, though Cruze’s voice is more friendly, sweet, and encouraging than her dad’s.
There’s plenty of how-to included, though I’ll leave you with a why-to for motivation.
“Too many people confuse fun with happiness. You can buy fun, like a great vacation or a night out on the town with friends, but you can’t buy happiness. Happy is the feeling of hanging out with your spouse, a special weekend getaway with your best friend, or the first time your child grabs onto your finger with her tiny hand. Those are the moments that move us forward, the ones we remember forever–and none of them are for sale.”
How do you avoid comparisons and stay focused on your own goals and values? Tell me your secrets in the comments below.
*I agree with much of Dave Ramsey’s advice, though for investing strategy, read Collins’s book instead (or read my review here). Ramsey also adamantly rants against credit cards with no exceptions, though I believe that they can be beneficial if used responsibly (read about a great deal here).
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