It happens to all of us sooner or later.

We look at the neighbor and we’re jealous. We wonder why they can afford a new car, new house, and new furniture and we’re still stuck with something that barely runs, barely stands and is threadbare. Why is their life so much better than ours?

This question hits us all at one time or another and the answer may just surprise you. Look around you for just a moment and take inventory of what you do have.

Are your bills being paid on time? Or are you struggling to meet them? If you’re like most of us, you’re struggling to meet them. You’re possibly living above your means trying to keep up with the neighbors. Does this make you a bad person? No, however, you can learn to live within your means and be happy. Instead of focusing on what you don’t have, why not focus on what you do have?

Do you have your health? Do you have a steady job? Do you have family and friends? Hopefully, you answered “yes” on each of these questions.

What works well for you personally? Dig deep within yourself and ask yourself some tough questions. Are you choosing wisely when you spend your money? Or, are you so desperate to keep up with the neighbors that you’re overspending and trying to make yourself look better?

You and only you need to know how much you’re making. You and only you need to decide just how to spend your money. Stop worrying about what the neighbors are doing. Stop worrying that they have a new car, new furniture, new house etc. It doesn’t matter how they are affording it, for all you know, it’s a gift, they are making (huge) payments on it or some other such circumstance.

We all want to look successful

However, one of the best ways to be successful is to be in charge of your money and thus, in charge of your happiness and destiny. You and you alone are in charge of your own destiny. If you are finding yourself short every month, stop for a moment and look at your budget. You do have a budget don’t you? If not, it’s time to get serious and make one before it’s too late.

Start by prioritizing your bills.

Mortgage or rent should be at the top of your list. Followed quickly by your utilities and food. Now you can look at what is left over and divide that between food, cars, furniture and the like. If you’re finding this category short then it’s time to do some trimming on your lifestyle.

If you live like no one else, you’ll be able to afford whatever you need. You won’t have to struggle. It’s that simple. Stop worrying about what everyone else is doing and put yourself back in charge of your own destiny. Take control of your life and quit feeling inadequate. Everyone has different skills and talents, if you’re feeling like you deserve more, perhaps you do, so go out there and focus on how you can make this happen.

If you’re underpaid, start looking for a better job position (before you quit the underpaying job). Make your dream job come true by doing everything that you can to get there. Seize the moment and take opportunities that come your way. Instead of wishing you’d taken that promotion or chance to go abroad, go out and do it. Don’t forget that money doesn’t buy your happiness nor will it buy your destiny.

Do you spend your time doing things you enjoy and with people you enjoy?

Are you spending time doing what you feel you must in order to get by and with those who make you feel less than adequate?

Focus on what makes you happy and prune those who don’t out of your circle of influence. You want to focus on those who will encourage you and keep you going. Stop focusing on anything that is negative in your life. If you need to change things, then by all means, do so.

If you need new furnishings, but can’t afford them, start saving up for them and find some yard sales to go to. You’ll eventually find what you’re looking for at rock bottom prices. You don’t have to go to the upscale furniture store to keep up with your neighbors.

If your car is the issue, start saving and try to keep the car you do have in the best possible repair as long as you can. Meanwhile, save your money and watch for great deals everywhere you go. Eventually, you’ll find a car you can afford that won’t break the bank.

Tell yourself how great you are. Don’t settle for less. Focus on your goal not what you don’t have. Focus on solutions and work toward them by saving and planning. Budget so you have what you need.

Take every opportunity to better yourself and don’t be afraid to fail, that is how you learn. Picture your life as you want it to be. Don’t focus on the neighbors, your colleagues or anything else. Just focus on yourself and what you really want in life. Take the steps to make it happen. This takes steps so focus on how many steps it will take to make one of the things on your list of desires to happen.

If it is your job, focus on bettering it. You get the idea. It’s the little steps that add up to huge changes. You can accomplish this by following the little steps and collecting them into that one huge step that makes all the difference in the world. You are in charge of your own destiny, go out and make it happen and stop settling for less. You can do this if you set your mind to it and it won’t be as difficult as you think it is. Just get out and do it.

Jonathan Leger is a small business owner and personal development enthusiast. He also runs a popular question and answer website at AnswerThis.co.

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