A friend of mine recently called me, asking for some time and mentorship. When we sat down, he lead out in the conversation, telling me that for the first time in his life, he was living outside his means. Way outside.
This was new territory for him, as he'd always enjoyed a very smart and simply lived life..... one of modest financial means and one in which he never overdid it. He was such a spendthrift, I used to complain that I wished he had a little less restraint. He rarely bought anything flashy and his only real vice was food. Fortunately for him, that was under control as well, so he was healthy to boot.
All of a sudden, life was in a different place for him. His children were growing and costs were rising inside his home. His wife didn't work, and he was the sole breadwinner. He had, and still has, a job many aspire to own:
A job at a large national corporate firm, and he had tenure, retirement and predictability. He wasn't going anywhere. When you couple that with a new position at his firm, along with a raise in income, life "looked" like it was just peachy for the young man. Heck, he was sporting a brand new shiny truck. I even admitted to envy.
The truth was the truck had pushed him past the breaking point. .... and it was now a point of pride. To top if off, the truck was something he enjoyed and felt, quietly, that he deserved. After all, he hadn't really ever splurged. Now, he was regretting his decision, because it had a massive ripple effect in his marriage. The truck had to go.
Hence, our conversation.
My suggestion was relatively simple. He needed to get back to what made him successful in his eyes. No matter how much we want something or feel we deserve something, it isn't the answer. If it is, it's rare. We are always looking to fill our lives with the one thing we feel we're missing. It could be a happy marriage or a job of significance.
What he didn't need at this point in his life, especially given the pain of his choices, was anyone to berate him or make him feel the fool. He already knows this was a bad choice and it was self serving. King Solomon said something really profound in how we are to speak to others. He said, "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver." Most people don't realize how much power their words have, especially if it's said wrongly or vainly.
Normally, my friend would ask my advice and never ever take it. To be fair, that makes me crazy, and he knows it, so I was tentative about suggestions. My mindset has always been to not ask for advice if you won't heed the recommendations, but I guess I'm guilty of it as well. We are all in bad places at times, and we just want out. We want that magic elixir, and we don't want to have to do something difficult to fix what's broken. We want the easy way out. Hopefully, my suggestions to my friend will be taken well. His wife texted me and explained that for the first time in their marriage, there is open dialogue on spending habits. I guess I did something close to correct.
When someone asks you for advice, no matter how many times you've been asked before, speak with a clear head, a cool tongue, and kindness. Sometimes, it takes a lot longer for people to admit they're at their breaking point, but they need your help and care, not your ego and vitriol. Be a friend.