Muggsy Bogues, the shortest person to ever play in the NBA, has always been my favorite basketball star, and it’s not because he holds the record for most assists, steals, and minutes played for my favorite team, the Charlotte Hornets.
He’s my favorite basketball player because when other height-challenged athletes would have worried about not being tall enough—something that cannot be changed—Muggsy worried about getting faster and controlling the ball better.
In Muggsy’s words, “Anyone can make an excuse about why they don’t succeed. Your mind and your will can overcome just about anything.”
He focused on things that were within his power to improve, and that’s a lesson that applies to finance.
If you want to become financially successful, you have to focus on the things you can control, just like Muggsy did.
Difficult to Control
How often have you said, if only childcare didn’t cost so much or my credit score is killing me?
You may need a raise, but it’s not easy to get one. Your house payment may be too big, but it’s not easy to move.
Most of us spend too much time complaining about how large our electric bill is or how much the price of gasoline has risen, or how little we got back on our tax return, but these are all things we can’t easily change, and yet it’s so easy to waste our energy worrying about them.
Within Our Control
However, we can change how well we monitor our account balances and whether we are charged overdraft fees. We can choose not to make so many frivolous purchases. We can reel in our wants and be happy with the things we have rather than yearning to acquire more and more.
One of the most basic basketball skills is called the pivot, and I think it’s a financial skill as well.
If we pivot our attention to the things we can control, we have a real shot at making positive change.
Adam Lucas holds a Finance degree and an MBA from the University of Kentucky. His work has appeared in many major outlets including AARP.org and GoBankingRates.com.