Chris thought he had a stomachache.
So, like most young men, he considered his options and did the only sensible thing. He ate more.
Well, that didn’t help, so he bought the jumbo bottle of Pepto-Bismol. By the time the weekend was over, he was doubled over in pain and begging his wife to drive him to the emergency room.
Fast forward through lots of exams, treatments and finally exploratory surgery and the doctors discovered the true culprit. Chris had cancer.
Impossible. How can a man this young and healthy have cancer?
Chris’s introduction to cancer showed him that neither his sincerity nor effort were of any use to him in this situation. He sincerely thought he had a stomachache, which could be addressed by an over the counter treatment and maybe taking a day off from spicy tacos. And once the pain continued, he became 100% dedicated in his efforts to find a remedy.
But as Chris told me later, “You can’t get well until you are right about what is wrong.”
Chris’s health situation isn’t that different from many financial situations I see. And like Chris, if your financial situation is unhealthy, you’re never going to get financially well until you’re right about what’s wrong.
Chris went through a four-step healing process:
Examination. Sometimes surface examinations don’t reveal the deeper problems behind the presenting symptoms. In Chris’s situation, exploratory surgery was necessary to find his underlying problem. Financially, a comprehensive financial examination is the first step to understanding the depth and breadth of what ails you economically.
Evaluation. Once they had him open on the operating table, it didn’t take long for the doctors to see what was going on…it was cancer.
Financial evaluations are not always that obvious. Sometimes personal economic problems are limited to the numbers, but often we find a lot of emotional and relational issues as well.
Treatment. For Chris, the treatment option was obvious. Immediately he started a round of chemotherapy to kill the cancer tissues troubling his body.
Sometimes treatment plans for financial ailments can be instant, such as the writing of a will or the installation of an insurance policy. Other times, the treatment plan involves the initiation of a set of habits to be practiced regularly for a long time – things like saving money, investing discipline and debt reduction. The benefits of these actions are like exercise – they only become evident after practiced over a long timeframe.
Recovery. The very good news for Chris is that he began to get better almost immediately. Soon evidence of the cancerous tissue was undetectable. It was a long road, but today Chris is a healthy man. That’s really good news!
Financial unhealthiness can be treated in such a way that the transition into financial health can be made (if not instantly) more quickly than one might have imagined. Walls of protection can be erected. Money can be saved. Debts can be reduced and eliminated. Investment programs can begin. Retirement plans can be imagined.
But none of that can happen if you keep treating your financial cancer with extra-large bottles of financial Pepto-Bismol. You’ve got to go deeper than the symptoms. You’ve got to discover the real problem(s).
Because like Chris said, “You can’t get well until you are right about what is wrong.”
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