Pain. It’s Good For Something.

I’m right-handed, but I moved my mouse to the left side of my keyboard a few days ago. Why?

One word: pain.

My right wrist has been hurting like the dickens lately — so much so that I changed how I use the computer. Along the way, I noticed a few parallels to the world of personal finance.

You see, my wrist had been bothering me for a few days, but it wasn’t until it became too painful to ignore that I did something about it. The same is often true when it comes to dealing with our money.

We may be underpaid or unhappy in our jobs, but we don’t get a new one. We overdraw our checking account fairly frequently, but we don’t stop to figure out why. We just get angry or feel stupid. We hate getting those credit card bills, but we figure everyone has debt, so we resign ourselves to it.

Things stay that way until they become painful enough that we force ourselves to change.

Once we do start to change, we’re often tempted to give up.

Try switching your mouse to the opposite side and using it for a few minutes.

Really, give it a try.

You’ll find that it’s awkward. You’re slow. You click the wrong things. You reach automatically for things that aren’t there anymore. You may have to rearrange your desk or change how you do a few other things too.

The same thing happens when we change how we handle our money and financial life.

But if you persist despite your frustration and mistakes, it gets a little easier every day. You’ll gradually find new and better ways of doing things — ways that help you eliminate the pain and move to a better place.

When we make changes, it’s normal to struggle. It’s normal to question ourselves and make mistakes. It’s normal to encounter obstacles and to be tempted to go back to the old, “easier” way of doing things. But remember the pain.

And think on how much nicer your life will be when you get through the changes and don’t have to deal with the pain any longer. Won’t it be nice to do work you enjoy and are well-paid for? And how great will be to have money in the bank and to relax on your debt-free vacation?

Remember that change is a process and pain has a purpose.