FICO or Success Score

Back in January, I got myself all fired up to improve my life. I decided to run more miles this year than last year. I decided I was going to cut back on drinking alcohol and take in more water. I created a road map for the number of blog posts I was going to write, podcasts I was going to publish, and e-mails I was going to send. I also decided that this was going to be the year I got my finances in order and began saving for my kid’s college, paying off my debt, and preparing for retirement. On January 1st, I logged into my Turbo Tax account, took a look at my credit score, and made a plan.

On January 1st I was fired up. I had my goals all lined up. I made it through the day on track and I knew that this year I was going to hit every one of my targets. Then, as I tried to fall asleep that night, my mind started racing. I was focused on a small graphic posted online showing my FICO credit score and listing all of the factors that contributed to it.

I have no problem telling you that my score on January 1st was 808. According to every article I can find, this is a pretty strong score. As I write this, it is the end of April. In the past 4 months I have paid off two credit cards. I have doubled my savings account balance and my credit score has dropped more than 75 points….what????!!!! Yup.

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On the night of January 1st it dawned on me that my credit score would not be a part of my quest this year. I would not spend any time at all trying to chase that number because that number, although valued by others, actually runs counter to what I find value in. According to that little graphic I looked at on New Year’s Day in order to improve my credit score I needed to do the following:

“Increase my available credit (aka-open new cards),

Increase the average age of my of my established credit (aka-keep credit cards open longer),

and Increase my total number of debts (get more lenders).”

According to banks and financial institutions, my FICO score demonstrates whether or not I am a safe bet to loan money to. The better my score, the more reason to believe I will be able to pay off what I borrow. Keep in mind that this year I have paid off completely two cards and increased my savings, yet according to the banks, I am a worse bet today than I was four months ago.

Why does any of this matter? Quite simply, you have to remember what matters most to you and not what matters to everyone else. You have to measure your own success and progress, compared to your own values, not those of others.

With finances, I am more concerned with the money in my bank account than a score that shows how prepared I am to go into debt.

Maybe you have a goal to get outside and run more. Awesome. It’s totally OK to go for a run around the block and call it good. Maybe you want to run your first 5K, awesome. This year my goal is to run 1,000 miles. To me, that’s a lot. To elite runners, that is what they run in two months. That’s OK. My goal is not to qualify for the Olympics. My goal is to get healthy without destroying my body or sanity.

Maybe this year you want to start writing. Maybe your blog gets 10 readers, awesome. Maybe you have a book that gets published, amazing. Maybe you are writing to just clarify and refine your own thinking, outstanding. Find your purpose, don’t chase a number.

In our classrooms and schools, we are all aware that others are casting judgement. Districts, schools, and teachers are now being scored, sorted, and labeled based upon the judgements of others. A few years ago I was at a school ranked by my state as an F. In two years we doubled our accountability and growth points, but we were still an F. We had “experts” telling us that we needed to do more test prep, to assign more worksheets, and telling us all that we needed to do to “beat the test”. I could have said “Yes”. I could have chased the rainbow, but chasing that score would not have made our school or our students more successful in the long-run. In the end, we stayed true to our focus. We stayed committed to what we knew was more important. We changed destinies. We changed lives. We changed a community and eventually, we changed our score.

We showed progress, not by chasing a meaningless score, but by a reckless pursuit for what mattered most.

Before you wrap up this school year and before you start next school year, I challenge you to identify what matters most. What will you pursue with reckless abandon? What data will you value? Whose opinions matter most? How will you define success? Identify it now, stay the course, and don’t get tempted by chasing numbers others say have value to them. Identify what matters to you, to your students, and to your families, then throw caution to the wind chasing success. You got this!!!

Remember, millionaires don’t worry about their FICO score. They focus on what they do have. They do not fixate on their ability to be successful in their deficits.

School grades are often akin to a FICO score. We measure what we can’t do and compare it to the weaknesses of others. It is not a score calculated by measuring strengths. Find your strengths and build around them.

But these are just my thoughts.





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