How do you stay stable in times of uncertainty?
When everything seems to be crumbling around you, it’s easy to get caught up in panic and desperation. People are hard-wired to feel fear in the face of the unknown — especially when it comes to finances.
But we need to master that fear to make wise choices. We need calm, clear thinking to get us through challenges and help us see solutions. Sometimes we get ourselves into a mess and have to deal with the consequences. Other times, we’re dealing with forces beyond our control. Maybe it’s a little of both. When you’re facing personal and collective challenges, it can be overwhelming.
The solution to uncertainty is to focus on what you do have control over.
You may not know what will happen with the economy, but you can be smarter about the things you have control over. You are in charge of your mindset, what you eat, who you connect with, and how you support yourself. Last but not least, you control your reaction to challenges — you can adopt a mindset of defeat, or you can choose to master the lessons you’re being given.
I was so grateful to speak with Dave Ramsey, financial guru, teacher, and speaker. Dave is the epitome of inner strength. Not only has he survived crushing financial losses, but he has also turned those losses into an asset. Drawing from his own experience, he helps countless people create stability, prosperity, and well-being in their lives.
Dave Ramsey is a seven-time #1 national best-selling author, personal finance expert, and host of The Ramsey Show, heard by 18 million listeners every week. He has appeared on Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, Fox News, Fox Business, and many more.
Since 1992, Dave has helped people take control of their money, build wealth and enhance their lives. He also serves as CEO of the company Ramsey Solutions.
What do you consider the greatest lessons of your life, and when did they happen?
Did they happen when everything was perfect, when your life was going smoothly, and when you had everything exactly the way you wanted it?
I’ll admit those times don’t happen often, and when they do, it’s best to enjoy it. They don’t last — and that’s a good thing. We’re here to grow and evolve, and that means we will always come up against challenges, whether great or small, in every area of our lives.
Chances are, some of your biggest lessons came during the hardest times in your life. I know that’s true for me. Living on my sister’s couch for a year and a half and being miserable was what eventually catalyzed me to where I am today. It was tough, but I learned a lot.
Dave Ramsey knows exactly what I’m talking about. That’s why he sees so much opportunity in a crisis. I spoke to Dave during the height of the COVID-19 Pandemic, a time of great uncertainty, when no one knew how long shutdowns would last, how people would survive, and what the world would look like in the future. Yet, it also offered people the opportunity to go within and rethink their lives. That opportunity was a blessing.
“There’s a lot of good that comes out of this much pressure because it forces you to reset.” – Dave Ramsey
Just like diamonds take immense pressure to become the sparkling gemstones that they are, so can you also allow the challenges of your life to shape you into a stronger, brighter person. But in order to do that, you need to hear the call.
Dave answered the call to a new life after losing everything in his 20s. At 26, he had a net worth of over a million dollars and was making $250,000 a year. He also had 4 million dollars of assets in real estate. Two years later, he filed for bankruptcy and lost everything. This led to a very dark period for him.
Dave could have thrown in the towel, become bitter, and never recovered. Instead, he chose to learn from his mistakes and turn them into an asset. Not only did he have a spiritual awakening as a result of his losses, but he also made a commitment to learning how money works and how to handle it responsibly. He is now a giant in the financial education space and helps people across the country reclaim stability and financial freedom.
“It is cliche, but cliches come from truth. … The greatest time is the worst time in your life. You don’t wanna go back there — good Lord. No, I don’t wanna [go] back there. I went bankrupt. I lost everything in my twenties. … But the lessons that I learned from that pain were so thorough. … Pain is a thorough teacher. It was a rich time. The fertilizer was everywhere. Lots of places to grow stuff.”– Dave Ramsey
That’s so true. Pain, struggle, and challenges are all rich fertilizers for your personal development. Sometimes it’s hard to see it when you’re in it. And like Dave, I personally would not want to go back to my lowest points. Living them once was enough. Still, if I hadn’t been miserable, I would have been numb, and never changed my life for the better.
Maybe you’re in a place right now where you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. Don’t lose hope. You can change, but you do need to put in the work.
“We all get wake-up calls. We get wake-up calls in our relationships, our spiritual walk, [and] our leadership styles. … [For] some people, the phone’s ringing off the hook. … They’re getting wake-up calls on a bunch of things. They’re at home with their family … and they’re starting to realize, ‘I was disconnected from my family.’ … They’ve got a wake-up call [about money. They realize,] ‘I don’t have any savings, and I’m deeply in debt. This isn’t working.’ … The cool thing is when you get the call, then you have to make the choice. Are you gonna answer the phone? If you pick the phone up, that means ‘Baby, it’s time to change.’” – Dave Ramsey
Remember friends, we always have a choice. We can ignore the signs that things are wrong, or we can change. Change isn’t easy. If it was, we probably would have done it sooner. But when you no longer have distractions or ways to numb yourself from your own behavior, the pain can be enough to force your evolution.
Sometimes the wake-up call can be a lifesaver. When you realize that no one else can save you but you, you find ways to access integrity, leadership, and strength that you never knew you had. When you’re up against the wall, you find your power.
“You [find] out that the secret sauce in your life is the guy in your mirror. It’s not some outside variable that’s gonna come and save you. The calvary’s not coming. Santa Claus doesn’t live in Washington, DC. It’s up to you, baby. Get up off the couch. … Go leave the cave, kill something, and drag it home. You [find] that truth. … I found that truth: What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” – Dave Ramsey
What an inspiration. No matter where you are, when you’re reading this, or what’s happening in your life, remember that you have more strength than you realize.
Of course, when we’re in a situation like the COVID-19 pandemic, we also need to have compassion for ourselves. There was so much out of our control, so many things that were not any individual’s fault, and so many people suffered huge losses. I want to honor that truth.
If you’re in the middle of any serious crisis — or if you are getting wake-up call after wake-up call — take things step-by-step. Slow down, rest, and take care of yourself with good nutrition and a positive mindset.
It’s important not to panic. When we panic, we’re letting our emotions drive our decisions. While our emotions can be guideposts to show us what’s good for us and what isn’t, we should not be making decisions when we’re in an extreme emotional state.
“In my life, when I have become desperate, right after that [is] when I [have] become stupid.” – Dave Ramsey
Whether it’s hitting up a pay-day loan place, borrowing from a loan shark, taking money out of your retirement fund, or backing out of all your investments, financial decisions made in desperation can do a lot of damage.
“When you get scared and you go rushing towards something out of fear, that’s … desperation. … When you do that, you’re getting ready to screw up. Just count on it.” – Dave Ramsey
As an outsider with an objective viewpoint, it’s easier to spot desperate decision-making. Dave shared his observations about people pulling money out of their investments in a panic.
“Stock markets [are] down. [People are thinking] ‘Do I take my investments out?’ Well, only if you think it’s gonna stay down forever. … You’re 35. You’re gonna be investing for 30 more years. You don’t think it’s gonna come up in 30 more years? You’re predicting the end of America? – Dave Ramsey
When you’re the one struggling and in panic mode, it’s a lot harder to see your blind spots. Emotions cloud our judgment, especially the extreme emotions of fear and anger. When we’re in survival mode, it’s harder to keep a clear head. That’s why it’s important to have a community of friends, loved ones, mentors, and coaches who can give us that outside perspective.
It’s also hard to see the bigger picture when we’re in survival mode. Just think about how many times you felt frozen in a terrible moment as if it would last forever. Yet people have survived world wars on top of pandemics, not to mention 9/11, Y2K, and the 2008 recession.
Life always goes on.
“The chances of you being in the exact situation you were in a few months is almost zero. Your life is not a snapshot. You’re not trapped in this moment. It’s a film strip. The story’s gonna continue to unfold.” – Dave Ramsey
There are so many ways to regain perspective when you’re struggling. You can meditate, exercise, make art, or practice deep breathing. You can read an inspiring story, talk to a friend, or listen to your favorite podcast.
You don’t have to act out of desperation. You can act from a place of inspired action.
Friends, Dave Ramsey has such a funny, down-to-earth personality that he makes talking about the tough stuff fun. Tune in to the episode to hear the full interview. And please share this episode with someone who needs to hear it — you could change someone’s life.
I want to acknowledge Dave Ramsey for his tough love and his good work.
“The phone rang [and] it was my wake-up call. Are you gonna answer the phone? Are you gonna change your life [and] … say ‘Never again. I’m gonna control the controllables.’ … That may be the only thing you get out of this crisis. And if it is, you got enough.” – Dave Ramsey
Friends, join me on Episode 938 to learn about money mastery in times of uncertainty. It’ll change your life! Also, don’t forget to tag me at @lewishowes and Dave at @daveramsey on Instagram with your greatest takeaways.
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