Saturday, June 13, 2009

Self Reliance

When I heard on the news a few days ago that people who were displaced by Hurricane Katrina are still living in FEMA trailers and waiting for government help FOUR YEARS LATER, I was shocked. I cannot over emphasize the need for self reliance. If you want to have any measure of control in your life, you need to rely on yourself to achieve this. There is no way, if you rely on the government (or anyone else for that matter including friends and family) for money, food, housing, or any other thing that impacts your life, that you will have control over you life and thus the joy and success that creating a life of your own can bring.
Now I know there are some people that have no choice but to rely on help from others or the government--those who are elderly, very young, or very ill--but there are plenty of others who put themselves at the mercy of a giant bureaucracy and wonder why their life is crap.

Here's some keys to self reliance:
  • If you rely on public assistance, set a timeline to get off of this pseudo gravy train. At the most, you should never be on public assistance for more than two years, the time it takes to get training in a field (nursing, welding, etc) that will allow you to become employed and support yourself. Better to live in a "just scraping by" fashion, earning your own way, than to be on public aid which actually doesn't help people but actually makes them more and more dependant on the welfare system. The same goes if you are living off of friends, living with parents past your early 20's, or in other similar situations.
  • Realize that your life is only as good as you make it. Living with good values, managing your money properly, dealing with people fairly and honestly, and setting goals and reaching them, will lead to a life you can call your own.
  • Enjoy failure. Everyone fails, that's how we learn. There is no shame in failure if you pick yourself up, learn from what happened, and move forward. Note that sometimes failure can temporarily require you to receive help from others, but again, don't let the fear of failing again paralyze you and keep you reliant on others or the government for an extended period of time.
  • March to the beat of your own drummer. Rely on yourself for direction, not your parents, not society, not the government. If you do what you totally enjoy doing (which must, of course, be legal and ethical) you will most likely find success beyond your wildest dreams. The problem that many people face is that they do what their parents/spouse/teachers/employers say they should do and never get to do what they really want to do.
  • Do as much for yourself as possible. Plumbing problem? Try fixing it yourself, you may be surprised at your abilities and, again, you won't be at the mercy of expensive plumbers. Car problem? Ditto. Don't like the high price of vegetables at your local store? Grow your own. Don't like your boss? Start your own business. Don't like the disaster in your garage? Clean it up and organize it. Everything you do for yourself will both expand your abilities and skills, and encourage you to do more for yourself.
  • Realize that relying on others (government, friends, family) can take a huge physical and emotional toll. Relying on friends and family can lead to problems that aren't easily resolved (watch Judge Judy if you don't believe me). Relying on the government can impact your health (the stress of putting up with their bureaucracy, the negative impact on your health when living on only what you can buy with food stamps, the unsafe atmosphere of living in many public housing projects, etc), your social standing (you'll be that guy or gal on welfare not that upstanding citizen that is a leader in the community), your self esteem (how great can you feel if you are living off of your momma/girlfriend?), and your income potential (if you rely on someone else for your income, you get what they give you and no're smarter than this!).

The bottom line? Do for yourself. People these days are so used to relying on someone else for just about EVERYTHING--got financial problems? go to a debt consolidator. Got a cold? Run to the doctor instead of doing what your grandma would have done like rest and eat chicken soup. Got an issue with your employer? Sue instead of moving on to a better employment situation--that the ability to rely on yourself is declining exponentially. Don't let this happen to you. Rely on yourself. Period.


  1. Very motivational! Thank you.

  2. What you describe was the mindset of every immigrant that ever legally came to the USA.
    To come to a country were they could reap what a sow and hard work had a redeemable value. They expected nothing for nothing.
    Just what the hell has happened to those principles, I don't know!
    I do know if we do not "redeem" those principles... we are doomed!

  3. Very good post and excellent observations. I think many people are afraid of trying beyond their comfort zone.

    Also, many people do not have the skill sets to make a comfortable living working for wages. The problem of non-livable wages. So when an entity, such as Uncle Sugar, gives them free or subsidized housing they may choose to stay as long as possible. A means of supplementing their income via reduced living expenses.

    Thank you for mentioning "enjoy failure". Failure is an important part of success. So important in fact that expect to fail 90% or more of the time. The more you fail the more you know you are putting yourself in the path of success.

    What do you call a millionaire who failed in 100 businesses and succeeded in just one?

    answer: a millionaire.