Are you, or someone you know, living paycheck to paycheck? Many people are. The truth is, in 2013, 76% of Americans were suffering from this disease. I say disease because I truly believe this condition is slowly killing us as a society. I’ve had a lot of people tell me they’re happy with their lives and wouldn’t change anything. I really think that comes from a place of complacency and instinct. Recently, I had a hummingbird fly into my garage and I had to rescue him or else he would have died in there. Telling his story is a metaphor for people who are living paycheck to paycheck. Let me explain.
My little hummingbird friend, I named him Charlie, flew into my garage (apparently attracted to the red pull on my garage door). Once he was in my garage, he started fluttering up around the ceiling. I don’t know how long he was in there before I noticed him but when I went into the garage, the door was wide open. Charlie was flying up around the light fixtures. He would occasionally head towards the windows but they were closed. In order to fly out the door he would have had to come down from the ceiling and fly in the middle of the garage to fly out the door. Even though he had done this exact thing to get in the garage earlier in the day, he flat out refused to change his behavior even though it would have saved him.
I grabbed a broom and tried to shoo him out the door but he kept flying away from the broom. A couple of times he almost flew up into our attic where I would have not even been able to reach him to save him. Fortunately, he didn’t do that. Eventually, however, he grew so fatigued he just perched himself on the garage door frame. I can only assume it was to catch his breath and start over again because it was at this moment he finally let me physically pick him up and carry him out the door to freedom. I sat him on the feeder and when he got his strength back up he flew away.
What does this have to do with living paycheck to paycheck?
See, Charlie is just like the 76% of Americans who live paycheck to paycheck. Charlie did what he was instinctively supposed to do. Fly higher and higher. That’s what he’s programmed to do. No matter what assistance was offered to him, he couldn’t (or wouldn’t) overwrite his core programming. Fly away from the assistance and keep trying to fly higher and higher. That’s what most people do today. They are trained to go to their job and work. After they work, they get paid. When they get paid, they pay their bills (hopefully). After they pay their bills, there’s nothing left so what do they do? Go back to their job and work some more. It’s a never ending cycle but hey, it’s what my parent’s did. It’s what we’re supposed to do. Keep doing this cycle over and over again until they die.
When along comes someone (like Lisa and me) who offers them a way to stop living paycheck to paycheck (like my broom tried to coax Charlie out the door) but rather than take the assistance, they move away and keep doing what they always do. They are absolutely convinced that eventually they’ll find freedom and rarely is that the case. “It’s too good to be true.” “It’s a scam.” “I don’t have the time.” “I don’t have the money.” These are just some of the multitude of excuses we hear. Albert Einstein once said:
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
- Albert Einstein
The morale of this story is best summed up with another quote. This one came from business magnate, investor and philanthropist Richard Branson: “If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!” So the next time someone approaches you and wants to help you out of the garage, take them up on their offer!