Confession: I love home improvement. A little too much. You know the school of thought, God first, spouse second, others next, and yourself last? I am good with all of that. Just put DIY Home Improvement on the list right before spouse. I mean right after. I MEAN SECOND TO LAST! I Mean- not on there at all? *Ahem*.
My routine in my early twenties was to wake up, read my favorite home improvement blogs, get to lunch and spend my break reading some more, and then go home after work and catch up on anything I missed in between! Young Dwelling Love* made shelves! Wowser Bower* painted another thingy! Chick and Johan Baines* had another kid and rolled out a magazine and flipped another house in Peco, USA!
*The names have been changed to protect the innocent.
All of this is well and good. Of course, we want to feel comfortable in our houses and open our homes hospitably for friends and family! For dinner parties and Bible Studies and Sunday lunches and game nights… and of course, that means before company comes over this weekend we have to paint the wall and replace the table and get a new mirror and powerwash the house and redo the bathroom
and solve world hunger and add a wraparound porch!
You know what’s hard to do? It’s hard to grow your faith when your scrolling through Before and After porch pictures on Pinterest. It’s hard to pay off debt when you’re focusing on keeping up with the Joneses. My version wasn’t new buying cars, shopping, or vacationing at resorts. My brand of K-U-W-T-J was home improvement.
GUESS WHAT! You give power to whatever you focus on. I was spending too much time thinking about how to fit “Never Stop Improving” and “More Saving: More Doing” into the budget – of course at the cost of our Baby Step 2 progress. You know whose marketing slogans those are! Oh, no, they got you, too. Lowes and Home Depot! (Don’t pretend you’re immune, Mr. I-go-to-Target-for-my-paper-products, or Miss Did-You-Know-Home-Goods-Has-Groceries- and don’t get me started on Hobby Lobby. You do not need another cow-themed rustic-chic kitchen spoon!)
I have to remind myself: MY FAMILY IS WORTH MORE THAN TRENDY COUCH PILLOWS AND NEW FLOORS AND AN OPEN CONCEPT KITCHEN! A ZILLION TIMES MORE! Dreaming about home improvement was not propelling us toward our goal. It was making us take detours! $100 here for this project, $200 here for that, justify, justify, justify. All that cashola that could have knocked out another loan by now. NO!
We decided: we are cultivating our relationship with God and doing money His way. That means we are getting out of debt – forever. We are going to be the last Hyers in our branch of the family to ever take out loans. Our destiny is out there, and we are not going to let payments stop us from going after it one second longer. We are changing our family tree!
Your “Keeping Up With The Jones'” mentality may not be home improvement. It can be sports equipment. It can be outdoor hobbies. New cars every two years. Gaming. Going to the beach. A huge empty home you can’t afford. Extra curricular kid enrichment. OUCH – Am I talking loud enough for you to hear me!? These are distractions! To be successful in getting out of debt, building an emergency fund, investing in your future, saving for your kids’ college, paying off your home early and building wealth to spend, save, and give like CRAZY, you must:
Change your focus. You give power to what you focus on.
Rick Warren says a diffused light source doesn’t affect much around it – like a lamp. Focus it, and it becomes a flashlight, cutting through the darkness. Focus it even more, with a magnifying glass, and it can cut through stone and glass! Focus it even more and it can become a laser strong enough to cut through steel and destroy cancer! It’s just light. The only difference in its power is focus.
Here’s what you must do to change your focus:
- Unsubscribe from everything in your inbox. You don’t need it. Seriously. If it’s a subscription, they are selling something to you. You don’t realize it, but you have probably transformed your email inbox from your digital mailbox that your mom sent emails to in the early auts into your very own, unique-as-your-DNA advertising channel. Brands make THE MOST MONEY via their email marketing campaigns. Translation: You’re shopping your email and losing at your financial goals! Un. Sub. Scribe.
- Unfollow whatever brands or people in your feeds that are influencing you. I.e., not real people in your life. Did you know they are collectively called influencers? That is because their ability to sway you to make a purchasing decision has a visible, measurable impact. On you! Follow them and they will make decisions for you. Don’t do that! Think! Unfollow.
- Did you notice those first two were about cleansing? Cleanse your world of distractions. Now fill it up. Fill it with books and podcasts and events and most importantly people that will propel you toward achieving your goals and not distract you from reaching them.
The home improvement blogs, magazines, TV shows, and podcasts I’ve wasted years on collectively have entertained me. They’ve been eye candy and a little brainless fun, but very rarely anything more. Mostly they’ve blurred my vision and weakened my resolve. Will I return to reading about home improvement and DIY? Maybe, but my breakup with these distractions will be far longer than Easter, so this is not just a temporary Lenten sacrifice. However my family and the legacy my husband and I build to leave behind for our kids and our community? Getting out of debt is the first step, and that’s what we’re focusing on. That, my friends, is going to make a lasting impact.
Now change your focus!