I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I’ve gained about eight pounds over the last couple of months. It was enough to get my attention so I can do something about it (if only to save money on not buying new jeans).
So I signed up for a Diet Bet game and wagered $100 to make the stakes higher, and started tracking my calories.
Many people, when they start any kind of calorie tracking/weight loss program, will probably see quick results in a couple of days if they are strict. I was no exception. I lost 4 pounds very quickly. Yay! I was also going really hard in my workouts. Double yay!
One morning late last week I got up and weighed myself. I went back up three pounds. WTF? I headed out for an interval beach run that morning and felt awesome. Like, really awesome. I felt fast, toned, and strong, so how could that number be?
Well, as someone pretty familiar with fitness, I had to remind myself that that number may not reflect my “real” weight. No, it doesn’t mean I’ve gained muscle. In fact, many people think that, and although it’s true muscle weighs more than fat, it takes a LONG time to get to that point.
There can be all kinds of random factors attributing to weight going up and down quickly, mainly water. Many people when they work out hold on to water because it helps the body repair. Eventually this will come off and your weight will even out, but water plays a huge factor in day-to-day pounds.
It got me thinking about how in personal finance, when we think about numbers, for instance how much someone may be making in income, it only tells a fraction of the story of their life as a whole.
I’ve had moments where I’ve felt kind of down about the income I’m sometimes making as a freelancer, but there is so much more to me financially, as well as a million other factors that make me…me! And hopefully a decent human being, friend, daughter, etc.
One factor to consider is a debt to income ratio. Just because someone is making over 100k per year, does not mean they are somehow “richer” or better off than you. They may have loads of debt or have an incredibly high cost of living or expenses. They may be putting all that extra money towards loans, and not contributing, or have much in the way of retirement savings.
Another factor to consider is overall well-being. You may see someone’s stellar income report, but you might not see how they suffer from migraines from working too much, or feel stressed and overwhelmed trying to manage it all. You may not see that they don’t have a life outside of work, or that their relationships may be suffering.
And we often certainly don’t see the doubt, insecurity, and obstacles and challenges that just about every single person on this planet faces.
No, we tend to look at numbers as black and white. As if someone’s net worth is related to self-worth. It’s just important to point out to take any and all numbers with a grain of salt.
The other day J Money from Budgets are Sexy declared October 19th as International “Be Proud of Your Money” Day! One of the statements he wanted you to fill in said this: I’ve accomplished the following this year and I’m damn proud of it: ________.
I wondered in reality if I really had anything awesome to declare. I mean, I haven’t doubled or or tripled my income in the last couple years. I haven’t written a best selling book…or even a book, period. I haven’t appeared on national TV. And I sure as heck haven’t even saved for retirement in the better part of five years.
So I wrote: I haven’t given up even when things have been really tough and stressful.
I have also managed to work for myself for the last seven years, not to mention doing so living in an expensive city. But one of the biggest things I’m proud of is that I have carved out my own unique job niche.
In moments of weakness I’ve looked for a full time job, but have never found one under the title: Video editor who loves doing that some of the time, but also loves personal finance blogging, connecting with people, producing comedy skits about money, as well as creating a documentary series, who also loves having a flexible schedule and working from home. Also, someone who wants to do financial reporting type stuff, and maybe the occasional speaking gig.*
Basically, it means that no matter how much I am or am not making, I’m doing something I should be rather proud of doing.
Don’t let the numbers of others try to convince you that they are special and you are not. It’s not to say there is anything wrong with being excited about your “numbers,” but this post is for those who may feel bad about their own numbers, or who tend to compare their life, especially their financial life with others who seem to be “killing it.”
Be proud of EVERYTHING you have ever achieved in your life, no matter how big or small.
Do you ever feel like you are somehow behind the curve with your career, finances, or other areas of your life? Does seeing someone else’s numbers affect how you feel about yourself?
*If you know of this job, let me know! 🙂