Self-help tips are a dime a dozen these days. You can find tips for managing finances, improving your marriage, and making sure the kids eventually make it to college. It is all good. At the same time, there is so much information floating around that it can be difficult to keep up. In light of that, here’s the most important tip of all: the key to successful life navigation is heeding the signs.
Signage is literally everywhere. From the car park signage at the shopping centre to the signage that directs you in the workplace, you can’t escape it. You also know that paying attention to every sign you encounter provides valuable information you can use as you navigate wherever you happen to be.
In a broader sense, our entire lives are governed by signage. Or perhaps, more accurately, our lives are governed by signs. Some of the signs are in the form of physical signage. Others come at us as circumstances, consequences, life facts, etc. No matter the form, all of life’s signs do three things:
- Tell us where we came from
- Tell us where we are
- Tell us where we are going.
Pay attention to the signs around you and you’ll find it easier to navigate life. Ignore the signs and you will do so at your own peril. That is just the way life works.
1. Effectively Managing Your Finances
Illustrating the point of paying attention to signs is as easy as talking about things we all deal with. Let’s start with managing finances. Some people do it rather effectively while others cannot seem to do it to save their lives. What is the main difference between the two types of people? The extent to which they heed the signs in front of them.
Sign#1: Growing Debt
Growing debt is a sign that you are spending more money than you make. It is not a difficult sign to see or understand. Yet so many people fail to heed it. Guess what? That’s a sure way to dig yourself a huge financial hole. Do not ignore it. If your debt is constantly growing, you are spending more than you make. You need to spend less, make more, or a combination of both.
Sign #2: Substantial Savings
The other side of the debt coin is savings. If you have substantial savings set aside and all of your bills are paid, that’s a sign your finances are on the right track. Keep doing what you’re doing. Being able to save indicates that you are spending less than you make. It is a good thing. Any amount you can save now will put you in a better place in the future.
Sign #3: Excessive Credit Card Use
Another financial sign to pay attention to is your use of credit cards. If you routinely use credit cards to buy life’s staples – think food, clothing, medicine, etc. – it is a sign that you do not understand how credit cards really work. Either that or you don’t mind paying interest on groceries that will be consumed within a week. Along those same lines, only paying the minimum balance due every month is a sign that you are in for long-term financial distress.
2. Effectively Navigating the Relationships
It is easy for some people to learn to recognise financial signs because money is tangible. It’s harder to recognise the signs of healthy and unhealthy relationships. Yet doing so is even more critical than managing your finances. After all, your relationships are the most important thing of all.
Sign #1: Persistent Disagreements
People are going to disagree. There is no way to avoid it. But if any of your relationships are subject to persistent disagreements, meaning you and the other person disagree constantly, it is a warning sign that your relationship is in trouble. You need to learn to either work things out or let those disagreements go.
Sign #2: Poor Communication
Another warning sign in personal relationships is poor communication. People who do not communicate well are at a greater risk of fights and arguments, misunderstandings, etc. How easily and effectively can you and your partner communicate in a positive way? If you find it difficult, your lack of effective communication is a sign that you may have problems.
Sign #3: Regular Cooperation
A positive relationship sign is the ability to regularly cooperate. When you and those you have relationships with cooperate for the benefit of all, you are demonstrating the ability to set aside your own self interests in order to advance a common goal. That is a good thing. It is also a sign that those particular relationships are mature. Keep striving to cooperate.
3. Recognising and Reacting to Signs
There are countless examples of tangible and intangible signage in our daily lives. Signs are all around us. In the end, what really matters is our ability to recognise signs and react to them in appropriate ways. Those who manage to do so find life navigation easier.
A good place to start is opening your eyes and ears. Many people fail to recognise life’s signs because they simply aren’t paying attention. They are so focused on their own immediate needs that they do not make any effort to observe what’s going on around them. They make no effort to hear what other people say.
Imagine driving down a busy multi-lane highway with other cars all around you. Imagine being so focused on your GPS that you are not paying attention to signage. Before you know it, you are travelling too fast. You are about to miss your exit and, upon realising it, you hit the brakes in an attempt to get over before it’s too late.
What are the chances are of you causing a serious accident under such circumstances? If you go through your entire life not ever paying attention to what is going on around you, you are not going to recognise the negative and positive signs intended to guide you. The chances of your life winding up a wreck are pretty high.
Signage is the key to successful life navigation. Whether it’s physical signage or the signs found in circumstances, consequences and life facts, the extent to which you recognise and react to those signs determines the course your life takes. That is just reality.