I AM SELF-RELIANT. Self-reliance is more than having a good job, money in the bank and never going hungry. To me, self-reliance means you’re able to rely on yourself and are in a position to care for others. Self-reliance is the ability, commitment and effort to provide for the necessities of life for self and family.
I teach (facilitate, rather) a self-reliance class through my church. I was asked to lead this class, to be a positive role model and a cheerleader for those striving to become more self-reliant. Unlike some things I’m asked to do for my church (I hate to admit it but at times I grumble and dread taking on another task before I even know what it is. I normally think, “I’m too busy! I don’t have time. Wouldn’t someone else be better at this?”). This time, I was thrilled that they would think of me as a person for this role. I thought I could really do some good in sharing my own personal story to help others become more self-reliant.
Self-Reliance: My History
For you to understand “why” I thought I could help others become more self-reliant, I feel it’s best to share a little bit about my childhood. As a child, my family was NOT self-reliant. In fact, how many parents do you know who rely on their adolescent children to work to help pay for the necessities of life – the mortgage, electricity, food? My family was constantly struggling. We lived on a farm and I’d chant all the animals we had in song, “We have horses, sheep, chickens, geese, cats, dogs, goats, rabbits, pigs and cows” (and more than a few dozen of each). The farm made no money but instead multiplied every spring with more and more heads to feed (animals my mother wouldn’t sell or thought they were too valuable to sell). My “Irish Twin” sister and I would do the majority of the chores. Now I know what you’re thinking, “Every kid thinks their parents make them do everything.” Our situation was different. Every day (of the year) my older sister and I would wake up at 5 am. We’d tend to all the animals and, depending upon the time of year, also the yard, our schoolwork, our paid yard route and our “town” jobs. We didn’t go to bed until well past dark and because I was so determined to better my life as an adult, I’d study and study until the early AM hours. I’d never miss school or skip a class. Not only because I wanted to get good grades, but because school provided a hot meal. Even though I was bullied with kids spitting gum in my hair, being at school was SO much better than being at home.
“I Contributed So We Would Survive”
My father had a medical disability that made it “harder” for him to work (though, not impossible). My mom didn’t work and after we fed the animals we’d wake her up with coffee in the mornings. As a child, I understood my parents needed help. I understood I had to help my family, my sisters and our animals. I contributed so we would survive. I also tucked away a small portion of my money and dreamed of hitting the road the second I turned 18. My family was dealt a bad hand in life. Everything was not my parent’s fault, but they made plenty of excuses and poor choices they didn’t own up to. I decided I would never be like that, and I knew I was ultimately in charge of my life. I didn’t hit the road the second I was 18 but when I graduated high school.
There are a lot of things I hate about my childhood but there is also a lot I love. I’m most grateful for learning how to work, work hard, endure and become self-reliant. AND I did become self-reliant – at least I think I am. Because I could do it, I KNOW everyone can become self-reliant themselves.
There’s Always Hope
When you become more self-reliant, you are blessed with greater hope, peace and progress. Based upon my own experiences, I have my own thoughts on how a person can become self-reliant but after participating in my church’s self-reliance course, I like the concise structure better than my own. I’d like to share this process with you today. I encourage you to have the desire to become more self-reliant and commit to implementing these principles in your life. Find someone (an action partner) who will support you, check-in with you and keep you accountable. When you do, you’ll achieve self-reliance and empower others to do the same.
First, believe that you can be more self-reliant. As with most things – anything for that matter – you have to BELIEVE that you can do it. If you doubt, if you don’t try, if you make excuses, you’re more likely not to achieve. This is true for anything you attempt to accomplish in life. So, put first things first, BELIEVE THAT YOU CAN. Have faith, believe in yourself and eventually you will.
With faith, you will believe that there is a solution to every problem. You will continue to seek for an answer until you discover a solution. You will continue to try. You’ll probably fail a time or two or so much more, but eventually you’ll succeed. Have you ever heard the story of a young, poor boywith worn out shoes? After watching, you’ll realize there is always a solution, but the solution may not be obvious or easy.
When you have faith, you’ll have the motivation to search for solutions and then act. You do. As a sister to 5 girls and as a business owner, I’ve seen how often people let their own self-doubt stand in their way. People will find a way to keep busy. They will research and analyze but they don’t act. They don’t try. As my 9-year-old son always says in his prayers, “Bless us to never give up.” I suggest that you know enough to get started. As you act, you’ll fail, you’ll refine, you’ll eventually succeed.
An essential part of self-reliance is managing your money. I always tell my husband, “I like saving money as much as I like making money.” In fact, I really hate spending money. It drives my husband crazy when I ask why he went to McDonalds when we have food in the fridge. If you’re going to be self-reliant, it’s important to keep track and save your money. Create a personal income and expense record. Start off by recording your expenses (what you spend) for at least a full month. Include your income and subtract your expenses, everything from your housing, food and medical expenses to entertainment. It’s important to be honest and inclusive of all your expenses and save.
BE OBEDIENT, SET GOALS AND STAY COMMITTED
What does it mean to you to be obedient? For me, I follow the law but because I strive to follow the Jesus and the teachings of my church, I try to be obedient by following the commandments. This may be something that you accept or not. Whatever you strive to obedient to, set goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. Write these goals down, review them daily and track your progress. Commit to what you desire to accomplish and stick to it. When you accomplish your goals, you are rewarded with peace and confidence in your ability to keep control of your own life and finances.
USE TIME WISELY
Money is important but more important than that is how we spend our time. We are all allotted with the same amount of time in a day. We are responsible for prioritizing and using that time wisely. There is SO much we can spend our time doing. Of course, we should find time for work, for goals, for family, for fun but how in the world are we supposed to do it ALL? By prioritizing.
I’m a process person. I love creating solutions that make processes more efficient – in day to day life and in business. In everyday life, you’ll never find me walking up the stairs without an arm load of toys, clothes, and what-have-you. I always think “why make three trips when I could make only one”. I’m also a list person. The feeling I get when I cross something off my list is SO REWARDING. But sometimes my lists never end! Setting priorities is essential to self-reliance. I loved learning about this 5-Step Time-Saving Process:
- List tasks – Each morning, make a list of tasks to do. Add names of people to serve.
- Pray (If you don’t pray, meditate and be thoughtful) – Seek guidance. Review your list of tasks. Listen. Commit to do your best.
- Set Priorities – On your task list, put a 1 by the most important, a 2 by the next most important and so on. Remember sometimes it’s ok to say, “No, I can’t” and take an item off your list.
- Set Goals, Act – Listen for guidance. Set goals. Work hard. Start with the most important and work down the list. Don’t get distracted by email and social media.
- Report – Each night, review and report your progress. Consider the items still on your list and their importance.
I challenge you to implement this 5-Step Time Saving Process for a week. Commit to doing it. After the week, review how much you’ve accomplished. Continue implementing the process in your life. Don’t allow insignificant things to distract you from progressing your self reliance.
TAKE RESPONSIBILITY AND PERSEVERE
How do you learn to keep going even when the work is difficult? Remembering our blessing first, realizing all we’ve accomplished and putting things into perspective are very helpful attitudes to have. Here is a healthy 4-Steps to Overcome Challenges:
- Keep a positive attitude – List your blessings
- Remember to work together – Ask friends, peers, group members and others for help. SEE, asking for help is part of being self-reliant.
- Replace fear with faith – Avoid doubt.
- Move forward with patience and courage – Never, never, never give up; endure with faith. Look for lessons and blessing in your challenges. As my 4-year-old daughter likes to say, “I will be brave.”
Perspective is a positive motivator. As a child, I had many thoughts of, “It could always be worse.” I frequently thought about the starving children in Ethiopia and children who didn’t have anyone. Although my life was tough, perspective helped me through. I had sisters who were at my side and parents who did love me – although it was sometimes to hard to fully understand that. The power of positivity goes beyond our understanding.
Alongside faith, positivity is essential in accomplishing your goals. I’ve shared with you the challenges I’ve experienced, and I know I would not be the person I am today without implementing elements of this 4-Steps to Overcoming Challenges list. Are you currently implementing something like this in your own life? Will you choose a hard and uncomfortable task and finish this week with this process in mind?
With faith, we believe there is a solution to any problem. We continue to seek answers failure after failure. Solving problems is an essential aspect of achieving self-reliance. Before you can solve a problem, you must understand what the real problem is. I found this video about buying A Bigger Truck funny but also really helpful. When presented with any problem, you must first identify what the real problem is. After you understand the problem, seek possible solutions. Finally, decide on an answer and act with faith. Remember that failure is learning. Failure does not mean you lost. It just means not now or you’re not quite ready. Keep going. Keep learning. Keep trying. Those who’ve never failed, never succeed. Will you commit to success this week by following these three steps to problem solving?
BECOME ONE, SERVE TOGETHER
When you become self-reliant, you’re able to provide for your own and your families necessities. You’re also empowered with the ability of helping, caring and serving others. Forgetting yourself and putting others needs before your own is an essential component of self-reliance.
Some people feel that they deserve what others have. These feelings can cause resentment. Others feel entitled to things they have not yet earned. These two traps blind people of joy. Resentment and entitlement are overcome by focusing on the needs of others. To find joy and achieve self-reliance, think of someone who needs help. Think about your own talents, contacts and the resources you may have to offer. Make a plan to serve that person. By becoming the answer to someone’s prayer, we often find the answer to our own.
SEEK LEARNING AND EDUCATION
We face many challenges and have many responsibilities. We desire to accomplish great things in the world of business, science, government, medicine, education and every other worth-while constructive vocation. We have an obligation to train our hands and minds to excel in the work of the world to help bless and serve all of mankind. We must seek learning. We can learn through studying books. We can learn through faith. We can learn by our experiences. We can learn by our mistakes. We can learn through others and we can help others learn by being a mentor. We all have power, purpose, and the potential to accomplish greatness. Develop a desire to continue learning, seek for the deeper meaning of our experiences and share what you’ve learned with others. Find a mentor and be a mentor. By doing this, you become a motivator, you feel more empowered and you do more good in the world.
Do you keep your promises? Are you completely truthful? Do you return what you borrow? Are you faithful? What does it mean to have integrity? Integrity means always doing what is right and good, regardless of the immediate consequence. Not only is it important to have honest actions but also pure thoughts. Strive to be honest and do what’s right. By doing so, you’ll have confidence in yourself and never doubt your integrity. Are there any areas you could improve your integrity?
EXCELLENCE IN COMMUNICATION
Similar to how we should continue to learn, we should strive to communicate well. When we communicate well, we develop a better understanding, learning and appreciation. Here are 4 Steps to Communication Excellence:
- Concentrate – Focus on the speaker’s words. Don’t interrupt. Don’t read or send messages on your phone.
- Appreciate – Look at the speaker. Use small works like “yes” or “okay.”
- Review – Say, “So, you are saying…” and repeat what you heard.
- Ask – Ask, “Did I understand?” Listen, and wait for an answer.
When we listen better and understand what others are saying, we develop a greater appreciation for that person. We more fully understand them and their situation. We are also less likely to over react. We spread love and appreciation around us.