Have you considered learning to celebrate your debt?
I bet you haven’t. I bet you spend your time vilifying, hating, and fearing your debt.
You are not alone. Most of us, who have real-life experience with enormous debt, have swum in the ocean of negativity that comes with realising how far in the red we are.
When I realised that we were in £100,000 consumer debt, it felt like my life had lost its meaning – I was scared, angry, and my future looked like a jungle in the nighttime. Don’t even get me started on the self-blame, regret, and guilt.
I know, and understand, exactly how you feel, my friends; I have been there myself. But here is the thing: while I felt like you are feeling right now, I made no progress towards paying off our debt.
Because negativity is draining, paralysing and pervasive. Things started to happen once I pulled away from the misery debt brings and found reasons to celebrate it.
I felt empowered, not downtrodden.
I felt hope, not despair.
Paying off our debt became the meaning of my life, not its destroyer.
Do you wish to pay off your debt and live the life you want?
You can do it. But you must resist the pull of negativity and focus on the reasons to celebrate your debt. Learn to celebrate your debt, not in the new age ‘I love everything about me and my life’ way, but as a set of opportunities, you may never get again.
Here are some reasons to celebrate your debt instead of resenting it.
Reasons to celebrate your debt
#1. Debt is an opportunity to get to know yourself better
Your debt is a storyline in the narrative of your life.
Listening to it is an opportunity to examine the way you live.
For example, think about why you are in debt and try to reach beyond the glaringly trivial reasons like overspending. Consider whether you spent more than your income because you don’t earn enough or because you buy too much stuff.
Work out where your money goes and whether it nourishes your life. Try to spend on the things that give you the most utility and/or pleasure.
Examine your spending record and note all that you have spent without even noticing. Over the next week, train yourself to spend mindfully.
I can go on, but there is little point in that – these are just examples of the stories your spending (and your debt) can tell you if you ask the right questions. What questions you ask is up to you but please not let this opportunity to get to know yourself better go to waste.
When I did that, several things surprised me. One, I didn’t realise how incredibly wasteful we were. We wasted food, overpaid insurance, and paid subscriptions we had not used for years and going to the office was costing me twelve pounds per day. Second, I learned that much of my spending didn’t nourish my life; it wasn’t necessary and/or pleasurable. And third, for someone educated and reasonable clever, I was so ignorant about money.
(There was more to my life story written through our debt, but I don’t wish to bore you.)
Use your debt to examine your life. You may be surprised at what you discover.
#2. Debt is an opportunity to change your life
Debt can help you increase your self-awareness.
You don’t have to stop there. Go a step further and use the clarity you’ve gained about your life and choices to transform your life.
What is your dream life?
What are the conditions you must create so that your dreams come true?
These are the questions that will help you transform your life (and your money).
You can achieve anything when you understand the conditions that make it possible.
Or you may decide that something is no longer part of your dream.
Anyway, being in debt is the crisis through which transformation flows.
How did being in debt change my life?
I realised early on that getting out of debt is about who you are and not simply about what you do. So, I learned to control my feelings, question my beliefs, maintain an open mentality, look for opportunities not impediments, and escape the trap of consumerism by becoming an essentialist. I also learned to act, not only reflect, in all walks of life.
For me, being in debt – and paying it all off – was a positive transformative experience. It can be for you as well.
#3. Debt is an opportunity to grow as a person
Debt is also an opportunity to learn, acquire new skills and develop neglected personality traits.
Being in debt, and paying it off, can teach you about money, money management, budgeting, controlling impulses, investing, and money-making. You can learn how to negotiate (your salary, prices etc.), how to start businesses, and how to collaborate. You can also master various skills, like gardening, building and appliances maintenance, writing, coding, websites building and e-commerce.
For example, I learned about money and personal finance, investing, building an online business, and blogging. Heck, I even wrote a book on personal finance.
Debt is also an opportunity to develop focus and grit. That is even better than learning new skills because, as research shows, grit is the best determinant of success in any area. In his book Decoding Greatness, Ron Friedman explains how the primary personality trait we need for success is grit (or persistence).
Don’t hate your debt. Use it to grow into the person you can love and respect.
#4. Debt is an opportunity to learn
You will need to learn not only about money and how to use personal finance tools.
You will also need to learn about psychology and how your brain is trying to trick you. You must understand the workings of modern capitalist economies and the rules of consumerism. You must also understand the difference between ‘reasons’ and ‘causes’, know what a strategy is and how to think strategically about your life and your money, formulate realistic plans, and transform adversity into a satisfying learning experience.
Learning to look for the most creative solutions to life problems was one of the benefits of having been in debt I still treasure.
Don’t be afraid of learning and use being in debt to expand your horizon.
#5. Debt is an opportunity to make a dent in the universe
Steve Jobs said that “We are here to put a dent in the universe. Otherwise, why else even be here?”
What do you think he meant?
I believe he meant that we all should aim to live a life of significance and make a difference, however small this may be.
Most of us live ‘normal’ lives. We wake up, go to work, do what is expected, go back home, have a beer in front of the TV, and sleep – a cycle occasionally broken by visits to the gym, romantic entanglements, and a holiday in the sun.
You know, I am falling asleep simply writing that. How did I live like that for a decade?
Being in debt, and paying it off, made me snap out of my routine and start making a dent in the universe.
I no longer lecture; I promise my students to enable them to learn.
I wrote ‘Never Bet on Red: how to pay off debt and live debt free’ to help as many people as I can reach to pay off their debt.
I write only because what I have to say extends knowledge, helps other researchers grow knowledge, or helps people transform their lives. I no longer write to meet the expectations of my employer or because of vanity.
You can start making a dent in the universe as well. It doesn’t matter what you do; you can make it count.
Are you ready to find your reasons to celebrate your debt?
Are you ready to find your reasons to celebrate your debt while paying off all of it?
Look, if you insist on hating your debt and feeling bad about your life, I’d understand. After all, who are you to go against the grain, right?
Still, I hope you will grasp this opportunity to change your perspective on your debt and, by doing so, transform your life.
And I still believe that you will be brave enough to take this step, stop hating your debt and use it to transform your life instead.
The time is now!