As tax season looms like an upcoming visit to the dentist, it’s time for us all to extend some tender loving care to the area of life called Money. If talking about money makes you nervous, take a deep breath and read on. Money deserves as much attention as any of the other 18 Areas of Life (like relationships, career, body, home, etc.) and causes as many problems. In working with clients on this for six years, I found there are a few things that help cultivate a “love fest” with Money. Here they are:
Write a money dream that inspires you.
When I ask my clients to create a dream around money, their dream often lacks any inspiration at all. For example, ”I would be finally out of debt and pay off all my credit cards. I would save for retirement. I would be responsible about my spending and wouldn’t go on ‘retail therapy’ binges.” While the intention of this dream is good, the underlying energy of the dream feels negative and restrictive. That energy comes from the fact that the author talks about what he/she doesn’t want (no debt, no binges) instead of what he/she does want. Your dream should be one you want to cozy up with and read again and again because it paints an irresistible picture of what you do want.
The solution? Focus on what you do want and how it feels to have it. For example: “I am proud of my savings, and have a robust retirement account that will take good care of me when I decide to retire. I respect my money and treat it with care, and in return it is always there for me. I have a plentiful budget for fun that pays for my travels abroad, show tickets and buys me a wardrobe that is classy and chic.” See how this focuses on what you do want, not what you don’t want? Now you try it. Imagine you’re starting with a blank slate. What would you design from here on out? I know it can be difficult to envision a blank slate given your current financial difficulties, but give it a try.
Tell the truth about where you are.
Many people would rather bury their heads in the sand than understand how money flows in and out of their lives. When I first started tracking where I spent my money, I was surprised at how poorly I understood exactly what I spent where. Consider that my ignorance was actually somewhat deliberate. Many of us would much rather play dumb and then get away with spending whatever we want, than actually have to do an honest reckoning. At the Handel Group, we have a term for that, and it’s called “the brat.” At the same time, many of us are also scared. We call that “the chicken.” You might be scared to step up as a leader of your finances, having to assert your value and worth and ask for the compensation you want, or to say no to certain expenditures. It can feel much easier to hide. Whatever you’re feeling, be sure to tell the truth about it, because that will show you what you need to address.
Find your limiting beliefs.
Many of us have wacky beliefs about money that spoil the love fest. For example, I used to believe that a purchase was only “a good purchase” if I spent the absolute minimum amount of money possible on it. While this was great for my bank account, it was not so great for my peace of mind because if I happened to see an item I just purchased on sale for a cheaper price, I would not enjoy my purchase anymore. Prices were a source of stress for me, because I could never really guarantee that I had found the cheapest price. Not to mention all of the time I spent trying to find the cheapest price before I even made it to the cash register. In order for me to enjoy my money and what I bought with it, I had to switch my belief from one that stressed me out to “a good purchase is one that I can afford and that brings me joy.” By shifting my paradigm to “what can I afford” as opposed to “what is cheapest,” I was able to guarantee enjoyment of my purchases.
Make a game of it.
Once you have written your dream, told the truth about where you are and understand your limiting beliefs, it’s time to take action. Make a plan for what you are going to spend, how much you are going to earn and how you are going to save. As you carry out the plan, make it fun by remembering what you are going to do with your money. One fun thing I do is to consecrate each contribution to my retirement account to one specific activity that that money will go towards. For example, when I finally have grandchildren, I plan to take each of them on a vacation each year. So, when I add money to my retirement accounts each month, I say “this is to take my granddaughter to Prince Edward Island on her 12th birthday” and get excited about the adventures we will have there. If you’re in a relationship, another powerful way to have fun with this is to dream about your money together with your partner. Enjoy!
When’s the last time you brought your creativity to your relationship with money? Being good with money isn’t just about being disciplined; it’s a matter of the heart. Please add a comment to the blog with more ideas of what would be inspiring or bring fun to your relationship with money. This tax season could actually be a source of pride instead of pain.
Originally heralding from academia, Dr. Samantha Sutton now combines her scientific background with her creativity and love of humanity to help people “engineer” better lives for themselves. She is a Senior Coach, Vice President and Director of Courses and Seminars for The Handel Group® where she designs and leads the Life Coaching Crash Course, an eye-opening weekend workshop that provides a deep, comprehensive and productive examination of your life and what needs to change in order for you to live the life you desire.
If you are ready for 2013 to be the year that you love your relationship with money and the results in your life, the Life Coaching Crash Course is the best place to start. See our newly released workshop dates in NYC, Los Angeles and Boston.