Have you ever thought about money beyond the scope of needing it to build the life you’ve always wanted? Why are some fortunate to have so much while others are less fortunate and financially struggling? What is it about money that can change your approach to life?
The answer to both those questions lies in the mindset of every individual.
Managing your money and building wealth involves much more than simply making — or having — more money.
The most successful people are those who have a positive relationship with their money. And as a financial advisor, I hear from many people who are making emotional, rather than logical, decisions about their finances. For them, money has become a monster they struggle to tame, versus a tool to support their lifestyle.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Shifting your thinking to cultivate the right mindset can transform money from a monster into an ally.
…This is where the money mindset comes in.
So what does it mean to have a positive money mindset?
It begins with thinking positive thoughts about money — and upgrading your inner dialogue.
This positive inner dialogue translates into better spending habits and healthier financial outcomes in the long term… This inspires more achievable goals, a better relationship with money, and ultimately the possibility that your money will work for you (rather than against you).
Here are five ways you can cultivate that mindfulness.
1. Be Positive.
It may sound silly, but studies show that positive thinking brings positivity into your life, and negative thinking is a block to your success. Changing your mindset to incorporate positivity will boost your mindfulness. The more positively you think about your financial situation, the easier it will be to implement action.
Easier said than done? It doesn’t have to be… There are a few ways to do this.
· Develop a personal mantra.
Think about the most recurring negative thought you’ve taken on about yourself as it relates to money. Do you believe it’s hard, limited, or evil? Now flip it completely around. For example, if you tell yourself “I don’t know how to make money,” your new mantra could be “I can do anything I set my mind to.” Repeat your mantra first thing and in the morning and right before you go to sleep, and feel it.
It may feel inauthentic at first, but that’s ok. This will help change the way you feel about money and it will show in how you carry yourself in the business world. Even entrepreneur Tony Robbins has his own mantra: “Stop being the chess piece, and start being the chess player. It’s time to master the game of money once and for all.”
· Be grateful!
You can’t be grateful and in scarcity at the same time. Consider starting a gratitude journal, where you can log all the things you’re grateful for.
In fact, it’s possible to even experience gratitude for setbacks with money… According to best-selling author Jen Sincero, you can even be grateful for your debt, as it gave you an opportunity to buy resources when you had no money to immediately afford them.
Each day, add five new things you’re grateful for. This will create a positive shift in momentum that will help catapult you into new regions of wealth.
2. Change Your Inner Dialogue.
What you think is what you create. If you say you can’t, you won’t If you say, “it’s hard,” it will never be easy… This is all just common sense, right? Instead of thinking about everything you can’t do, tell yourself what you will do.
Here are three limiting beliefs about money, and how to flip them to be more positive:
1. The belief that money is evil: ie. “Money is the root of all evil.”
If you believe money is the root of all evil, you’re blocking yourself from making any! This belief fuels people to have a disdain for money, which can only keep them broke. If you judge other people’s success as wrong or even ‘evil,’ you’re only holding yourself back from your own success. Try: Others, including myself, should be proud of their achievements.
2. The belief that people with money are selfish: ie. “Rich people are self-absorbed.”
As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog, money itself is neutral… It’s only what you do with your money — or how you think about it — that gives it an emotional charge. Recognize how having more means you can actually give value to others. Don’t beat yourself up for wanting to be successful! Try: Being wealthy would allow me to help others.
3. The belief that money and happiness are tied: ie. “I won’t be happy unless I have money.”
Of course, you can’t actually go to the store and purchase happiness. Although money does give you the freedom to explore the things that give you joy, having more wealth will not make you happier… if you’re unhappy, having more money won’t improve that. Instead of seeing money as the only path to happiness, try thinking of it as an addition to your current emotional state. Try: Money is not a vessel for my happiness…. I create my own joy.
Which of these statements do you find yourself making? It’s time to change shift that inner dialogue!
3. Set Achievable Goals.
There is nothing more defeating than setting goals that you can’t reach. Having goals is key to a stable and successful future. Studies show that those who set (and write down) their goals are ten times more likely to succeed than those who don’t. Why is that? Writing things down encodes the information in your brain so you better remember them in the long-term.
This statistic speaks specifically to writing down your goals, but it also highlights the importance of setting goals in the first place. If you’re staring at a list of obstacles, rather than inspirations, it can be stifling. Here are some ways to set achievable, inspiring goals:
· Set goals that you can measure.
The most specific goals can be the easiest to accomplish, because you have a precise idea of what needs to be done. And if you can measure these specific goals, you’ll have a better idea of what you’re doing right, and what needs to improve. A great way to do this is to get a calendar and write everything down with a dated deadline. This way, you’ll know if you’re meeting your deadlines, and which goals get met first and easiest. It will allow you to examine your habits, and change what isn’t working.
· Check in with what motivates you.
Set goals that inspire and motivate you! When it comes to setting goals, one main motivator is the need for achievement. It can be stressful to constantly be in the mindset of ‘I have to do this,’ rather than ‘I want to do this.’ If your goals are important to you, they’ll pull you forward and you’ll strive to meet them, versus feeling like you need to push yourself up the hill. Think about New Year’s resolutions: lose 5 pounds, get a raise at work, etc. Boring! Check in with what moves you and pulls you. And be mindful of the reasons behind why a specific goal matters to you, so you fully understand the importance of getting it done.
· Write them down!
It’s so important to write down your goals, rather than having them float around aimlessly in your head. Writing things down helps your brain in two crucial ways: it puts your goals in external storage, meaning you can access them in a physical location at any time; and it encodes information in your long-term memory.
Putting your goals on paper makes them real, unavoidable, and unforgettable. A tip when writing? Use ‘I will’ statements rather than ‘I should.’ For example: I will meet my deadline, not I should meet this deadline or I will be upset with myself. It’s important to keep a positive mindset when writing down your goals, so when you look back on them you feel inspired rather than stressed.
As a financial advisor and coach, I want everyone to meet their goals! You can use my Action Blueprint to get a more mathematical, visual concept of how to accomplish everything you set your mind to. It’s a one-page view of your financial picture, meaning you are using mindfulness to understand your strengths and weaknesses… Which will help you set better goals for the future.
4. Be Aware of Your Spending.
It’s easy to lose track of the few dollars you spend here and there, but those small payments can add up. It’s crucial to calculate all of your spending, not just the large sums. Add it all up and compare it to your net income.
For example, many of us have a multitude of subscriptions… Netflix, gym membership, cable, magazines, you name it. Since these subscriptions cost very little individually, it’s hard to keep track of the collective amount you’re spending on all of these services. It’s just one of many sneaky ways we spend money without even realizing it. Bank fees, late charges, and even your spending habits when you’re tipsy all contribute to that thought we all have: where did all my money go?
Being aware of every dollar you spend may sound exhausting, but it will help keep you mindful of how you spend your money. No more looking at your bank statement in shock… it’s time to be aware! The more mindful you are of your financial habits, the easier it will be to change them, if need be.
5. Realize Money Isn’t Everything.
Of course it’s important to pay your bills and feel financially stable. However, also be mindful that you aren’t putting money above the things in life that may be more important to you. If you cherish putting your kids to bed, don’t take a job that requires you to be at the office until 7pm or later. You may make less money, but you will be happier.
They say money doesn’t buy happiness… to a point. Of course, it’s important to be financially secure and feel like you have the freedom to pursue what makes you happy. But studies show that your income doesn’t affect your day-to-day happiness by any significant margin. Getting a raise might mean you can go on an expensive vacation, but working too much can mean you end up spending less time on those small moments, such as spending time with your family.
It’s great to have an idea of what you need to do to be more mindful… but does it actually work? Let’s use a client case study as an example.
I had a client — we’ll call him John — who was frustrated because he wasn’t making enough money, and therefore couldn’t save any. John lived in a modest neighborhood. He and his wife both made a solid living, and both their kids were in private school. So why couldn’t John get ahead?
At first glance, John seemed to have it all: the house, the cars, a good education for his kids… but he was struggling. When he looked at his bank account, the numbers made him cringe. He split his paycheck deposits between his checking and savings accounts, but whenever something unexpected came up he found himself dipping into his savings. This made him feel financially insecure, and cultivated a host of negative feelings toward his money.
A closer look at John’s life revealed that he bought his house before he was financially secure. By doing so, he put himself in debt from the onset. This meant he was constantly chasing money, which left him financially unstable. It was clear that something needed to change… John needed to be more mindful.
I advised John to take the above steps to craft a more mindful mindset when it came to his finances. After he changed his mindset, and approached his money in a different way, things began to change. By realizing why he was struggling with his finances, John was able to understand how to fix the problem, rather than continuing to grow his debt and his frustration.
By developing more mindful habits, John was able to make his money work for him. He was having a better time in life, and was able to do more than he ever had, just by being more mindful of how he was spending, and where his debt was coming from.
It’s difficult to be completely mindful of your money… but having that awareness, and being able to change your mindset, is crucial to having a healthier relationship with your money.
Whether it’s an awareness of how much you spend, or the realization that you have negative feelings toward your money, you have the power to get started on being mindful about your money today!
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Elisabeth Dawson is a financial advisor and the author of Wealth by Design. She is also the founder and CEO of Copia Wealth Management Advisors, Inc. and Copia Wealth Management & Insurance Services, designed to help clients achieve financial greatness.