I read an article on CNN.com this week about how President Obama is beginning to lose some of his clout and the magical mojo that surrounded him pre-election. He ran on a platform of change, and while he has fought to reform everything from health care to Wall Street in his two years as president, his ratings have fallen and continue to slide. It seems this is due to a combination of him inheriting a terrible economy and two controversial wars, in addition to starting off with many ambitious goals.
Although Obama has made progress on some fronts, the polls show that many Americans seem to think it’s just not enough. It can take years to change major systems that have been in place for decades, but Americans ready for change want it now. They’re ready for the benefits from tax cuts, better health care, more jobs and so on.
These things don’t happen overnight. The polls and the interviews in the CNN article above reveal that some people think he tried to take on too much too fast and is running out of steam and influence. He’s seems like a very smart guy, and for all he knows, he only has four years to overhaul the country and doesn’t want to waste time. But is he spread too thin to be effective?
I’m not going to go into my personal views on this. I just think he’s in an interesting situation, and that this is a good analogy for personal finances. It’s easy to get ambitious with personal finance goals when we decide we’re ready to finally face our debt or begin budgeting. I’ve seen people decide overnight that they’re going to stop eating out, cancel unnecessary services, start riding the bus to work, only buy used goods and so on.
Although those are fantastic goals to have, it can be unrealistic to conquer too much at once. It can be overwhelming and difficult to stick to all your promises. That’s why many people with debt spread across multiple credit cards decide to tackle one card at a time. Trying to pay it off all at the same time in small amounts can make you feel like you’re just treading water.
I’m all for positive change, and more power to you if you can knock all of your goals out immediately and without disaster. I just think it is important to remember that if you try to go too extreme and too fast with your goals, whether it’s weight loss or paying off your credit card debt, you may burn yourself out and find yourself in an unsustainable situation. As with everything, moderation is key, and that’s something I’m going to try to take with me as I begin my budgeting adventure.