MMA Logo

Senior Correspondent

A Seasoned View of the World

Continuity: The Hidden Key to Financial Security

Print

By Sharon O'Day

February 18, 2012

Sharon O'Day

Sharon O'Day lost everything at age 53, even as an expert in global finance and marketing with an MBA from the Wharton School. Today her mission is to show as many women as possible how to become financially free for the long term.

Learn more about Sharon O'Day

I went to a party last night.

As I walked in, I immediately sensed a high energy level … yet, behind it, an interesting calm.

This morning it struck me where that calm came from.

A large number of the people there were military friends of the host, a military man himself.

Continuity: The Hidden Key to Financial Security

Leave a comment

The air was filled with bravado, a masculine strength that comes from testosterone no doubt, but also from a sense of assuredness.

So where does that assuredness come from?

Well, it made me think of an article I had read before going to the party, by Forbes staff writer Jenna Goudreau. Her article is entitled “Careers Headed For The Dustbin.” In it she cites the twenty jobs the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts will disappear in the next several years.

Now add to this mix a conversation I had at the party with a realtor who specializes in Miami waterfront properties. We talked about what has changed in the industry because of all the internet listings, and then moved on to what is really affecting how a realtor interacts with clients: all the foreclosures and short sales. She cited “doing everything right,” focusing on the real needs of clients and providing them critical information on what the new banking and mortgage rules require. Yet she sounded frustrated.

It dawned on me that her frustration came from the fact that, in the end, she has no control over the outcome of the transaction. Despite doing every right, nothing she can say or do guarantees that the client will make a decision that benefits her.

Control. Control over our lives. That’s what these three threads have in common.

We all hear that some of our military men and women are grossly underpaid for what they do. And, frankly, I think that’s inexcusable. And they do face some unknowns, such as where their next posting or deployment might be. And some face the greatest unknown of all: will they be killed as a result of the career they have chosen.

But they have the knowledge that they won’t be fired. They won’t be “let go.” Whatever it is they get financially, too little or enough, it is reliable. They can plan around it. They can count on continuity.  And that leads to the underlying assuredness I felt in that room.

As for the realtor, as someone who lives by the commissions she earns, she is totally at the mercy of decisions made far away … at the level of the national economy. She has to react to how the market reacts to how well the economy is reacting to decisions made by presidents, congressmen, congresswomen and people in the top echelons of the financial world. React … react … react. She has no continuity.

As for all the people whose livelihoods come from the twenty “jobs” listed in Jenna Goudreau’s article, including anything related to agriculture, to unskilled manufacturing or to things made obsolete by technology, they too have no continuity.

As an entrepreneur, I am surrounded by people who have taken their futures into their own hands by starting their own businesses. But even having made that choice, what’s important is to be keenly aware of how much control they have over their future. Does their business have momentum and can they count on ongoing income? Do they have that added competitive advantage that gives them a good idea of how their business will grow? Do they have a healthy relationship with money that insists on them making solid business choices? Do they have continuity?

In my own case, I know how different I felt when my businesses were built on debt and were solely dependent on getting the next consulting gig or project. Every day started with a pit in my stomach. My expenses were high and my income was erratic. If you’ve read my story, you know I had to hit the wall financially before I understood that my problem was not whether or not my business model was viable. Yes, I had to get my expenses under control and change my lifestyle. But the big discovery came from examining how I dealt with my money.

How do I know that?  ell, because after getting clear on my money issues, I went back to the identical business model and it has led me to financial security. To assuredness. To continuity. To knowing I’ll be okay, no matter what.

So I have a question for you. How do you wake up in the morning? Do you wake up cheerfully, looking forward to the day knowing that you’re building your future security? Or is your cheerfulness a tool you’ve chosen to use to egg yourself on … although you know in the pit of your stomach that your future is at risk?

I honor the efforts made by everyone around me to hustle and strive and learn and grow. But I just want to be sure you’re asking yourself the right question, so you know if you’re placing your energy … and your hopes … on the right thing.

You know the answer. And if it’s anything other that a resounding “Yes, I’m on track towards financial security,” the time to get honest is now. Every day is important. This is a time of such volatility in the world. But that doesn’t excuse not making any changes that will right the direction of your journey.

Let me know below how you feel about this question. And if you think anyone you know could benefit from asking it, be sure to share with them.

Senior Correspondent

We are journalists and essayists, bloggers and pundits, professional and non-professional writers. Here we report on our lives and our world.
Learn more about our adventure in journalism.

Twitter Facebook