When I was a kid I used to play a lot with plastic, floatable toys. We didn’t have too many choices for toys back then. First, I’m talking about more than 40 years ago, second, it was communist Romania. In terms of affordable, usable toys, a plastic, simple boat would have been something major. Especially if you could actually float it.
During school, I would have played with it on the bathtub or on the kitchen sink (to my parents despair when they were back home and found water splashing all over the place). But during summer holidays I was at my grandparents, in the countryside. We had a small river close to the house, and I was filling small buckets, in which I was floating my boats.
This memory just recently popped to my mind, for reasons that have nothing to do with toys, nor plastic, or buckets. Surprisingly, the reasons I made this connection are related to financial resilience, and, to a certain extent, meaningful relationships too.
The Buoyancy Of Your Income
There is a certain order in which you have to make things so they are actually unfolding the way you want. There are certain conditions that have to be met in order to generate a stable income.
More often than not, people are thinking about the next great idea, the next big opportunity, or the net big thing they’re going to hit, and lose sight of the more simple, but at the same time, fundamental stuff, like actually not losing money. Being prepared, and ready to act when opportunity arise is a very good approach, don’t get me wrong. But losing money without even know how you’re losing it is not.
That’s what I mean by the pierced bucket thing. You can’t float an income if you’re losing money. You can’t set sail if there’s no buoyancy, your ship will be simply stuck.
Taking care of simple things, like keeping a budget, greatly help with that. Knowing your spending limits every month (or every year, if you keep long term plans, which I hope you do) is fundamental. It’s not spectacular, that’s true. It may feel limiting, at times, I agree with that too. But it’s paramount for creating some sustainable force, some constant momentum that will keep you afloat.
It’s the same in relationships. Instead of focusing too much on finding “the perfect one”, why not focusing on your own issues first? Be ok just being alone first, live by yourself for a while and see how you’re getting along. See if you’re not losing water. Maybe some self-trust issues? Some overinflated expectations? Some fear of abandonment? Deal with this first and slowly create some buoyancy, just in case someone really good appears in your life.
Patching The Bucket
And there’s this situation in which you did find a great idea, but you happened to stumble upon it unprepared. Like getting a nice toy, and floating it on a pierced bucket.
So, what happens in these situations is that you keep pushing forward, keep trying to steer the boat, but you’re on a lower and lower income. Eventually, you get into a struggle in which you do everything you can just to keep the boat afloat.
But that’s incredibly hard. I know, I’ve played with toy boats on pierced boats and it gets ugly really fast. What needs to be done in these situations is to stop and patch the boat. Pay your debt. Accumulate more. Get healthy.
Yes, you will lose that specific opportunity, as you will have to switch all your focus (and expenses) from building to patching.
The secret is to trust there will be more opportunities and, even more important, to understand that it’s not the opportunity, by itself, that’s important, but merely how prepared are you for it.