An interviewer recently asked me, “What’s the biggest issue you see when it comes to people and their money goals?” and without skipping a beat, I replied, “Resistance.”
I know with Pilates and other forms of fitness, resistance is often a good thing — it helps to strengthen, burn calories and build muscle. Bring it on! However, when it comes to money matters, resistance translates to procrastination, avoidance or just plain denial
In many ways, having a money goal (like getting out of debt, sticking to a budget, saving more, or raising your rates) is not that much different than starting a new exercise plan or diet. We start with good intentions and lots of motivation. But before we know it, we fall back into old habits and resist making any real changes.
We may know, deep inside, that we need to get out of debt, stick to a budget, save more, raise our rates, etc.– just like we know that we need to exercise regularly and eat kale. If we could just get ourselves to do it…but, much to Oprah’s dismay, when we know better, we don’t always do better.
The interviewer was surprised by my answer. She thought that I would have said something more obvious like personal debt or underearning, but in my opinion, those are just symptoms of the real issue.
The real issue is that people don’t have the right money mindset. When it comes to money, more often than not it’s we’ve inherited an underlying money story from our parents or other authority figures in our lives that have caused us to look at money in a negative light. Rather than view money as something that comes naturally to us and something we want to take care of, people tend to see money from a perspective of lack and scarcity, or use it to mask deeper feelings of fear or inadequacy. We see finances as too overwhelming, complex, over our heads, boring, etc. that we want nothing to do with them, and would gladly hand the responsibility over to someone else. Hence, the resistance.
But the question is what can you do about it?
Developing a healthier money mindset is similar to training a new muscle. But in this case, the muscle you are flexing is your brain.
Here are a few tips to get you to think about your finances differently so you can begin to tackle all those money goals, break through your resistance, and create the life and business you’ve been dreaming about:
- Look at Money Story. Begin by noticing what you are telling yourself about money and identifying the stories or belief systems you might have you inherited as a child about money (and work). Did you always hear that there was “never enough money?” Was money is your household tied to work that was stressful or unappealing? Or was it something that easily flowed in and out of your household?
- Find alternate evidence. Whatever negative story you might have inherited, start looking for evidence that proves otherwise. For example, if you were always told that one could only make a decent living by working a 9-5 corporate job or becoming a lawyer or doctor, find examples of people who became successful by other means, say, through entrepreneurship or creative pursuits. If you were always given the impression that women were not good with money, find examples of females who rocked their finances or career, like Jean Chatsky or Amanda Steinberg. By finding alternate evidence, you can start to create a new money story that works better for you and brings you closer to the goals you want to accomplish.
- Change your language. There’s power in words. Catch yourself whenever you find yourself using negative language when saying things like “should” “have to” “can’t.” Instead, practice replacing those words with “choose” and “decide” (e.g., I should save more > I chose to save more; I have to keep my rates where they are > I decide to keep my rates where they are) etc. Recognizing that you always have choices will help you start seeing your money goals as empowering rather than as a sacrifice.
And remember, be patient! Joseph Pilates once said, “Patience and persistence are vital qualities in the ultimate successful accomplishment of any worthwhile endeavor.” Our money stories run deep, so be patient with yourself and trust that a new money mindset is something you too can achieve.
Jennifer Faherty is a Martha Beck Life Coach and Certified Financial Planner who loves helping people save and spend freely. Sign up for more money tips at www.redbirdpartners.com and you’ll also receive a free copy of ‘The Mindful Money Tracker” — the one step you need BEFORE you start budgeting.