Do you remember Popeye’s portly friend, Wimpy, from the famous E.C. Segar comic strip? Often the “straight man” to Popeye’s antics, Wimpy has a passion for food and Segar’s comic strips had a recurring theme of his efforts to try to get other characters to pay for his meals. The most memorably Wimpy line is, of course, his
“I’ll gladly pay you on Tuesday for a hamburger today.”
My life this week has been filled with a series of Wimpys. Those who cannot accept the fiscal responsibilities of the life they choose to lead, so they want to defer responsibility to someone else. In their desire for the immediate gratification of full tummies (or must-have outfits, achievement of quarterly or year-end sales targets), they make short-term decisions that feel good in the moment. Hamburgers taste delicious right now, but are forgotten when the feelings of satiation wear off. That new dress looks fantastic the first time you wear it, but loses its allure when you accidentally spill coffee on the sleeve. Last month’s sales accomplishments are meaningless when next month’s are staring you in the face.
Yet regardless of whether or not the hamburger was good, the dress “all that” or the sales targets achieved, the bills come due. Tuesday does come. It comes in the guise of credit card bills requiring payment. Trade funds that must be balanced. Checks – financial and of personal accountability – that must be written to our debtors. Like it or not, Tuesday really does come. And each of us must step up and own our commitments.
Learning to say no to yourself and others is not easy. Taking shortcuts — the ones that often ignore that quiet voice inside gently saying “this isn’t a good idea” – is dangerous. Telling your boss (or client) you cannot achieve a target because you are not financially funded to do so is a difficult, but necessary conversation. Walking away from a killer sale is utter hell, but if the $1,900 dress is marked down to $350 and that’s still $350 more than you have budgeted to spend, keep walking! Self-discipline, personal responsibility and the satisfaction of delayed gratification are the medals earned when shortcuts are avoided.
The long route is not easy. Yes, Wimpy’s belly will sometimes rumble with what sounds like hunger. Others may scream and shout and threaten you over missed targets and volume that will make you feel 10″ tall. You’ll die a thousand deaths walking away from the boutique steal of a lifetime. But you will win in the long run.
It is your responsibility to know your budget, know your facts and define your pathway. Have the plan and the proposal on how you will achieve the target and what you need, responsibly, to get there. Be proactive in having the conversation early and often so it doesn’t become a series of Tuesday hamburger bills with no funds in the checkbook. And be smart enough to squirrel away some extra jingle for unexpected treats so that when moments of decadence present themselves – a juicy burger or a delicious splurge – you aren’t robbing from tomorrow, but treating from today.
An outrageously wonderful life isn’t about shortcuts or scrambling to pay the bill. It is looking ahead and always thinking two or three steps beyond where you are, so you can always be ready to anticipate your next move. Here’s to it!