You know how people who talk about weight loss talk about having a set point? You weigh whatever you weigh, and you can go a certain amount up or down, but your body will fight for stasis. At least, that’s the theory.
Here’s a TED Talk on the subject that I found kind of life changing.
I think the idea of set points works for all kinds of things. The human animal wants balance and equilibrium, even if we aren’t actively seeking it. Even if we also really want big, fat, juicy change.
I’m quite sure I didn’t make this up. Probably people who are way smarter than me have already said it. I definitely wasn’t telling MaryEllen anything she didn’t know. (She’s way smarter than I am.)
But, I’ve dealt with the weight set-point thing. I’ve lost 120 pounds. And this idea just really struck a chord with me.
A while back, my favorite house in Reno went up for sale. I took a look online and saw that the owners wanted a million dollars for it.
It’s a truly gorgeous house, built in the 1950s, full of history and vintage awesome that just sings to my heart. It’s yellow, which is my happy color. It’s just a house that seems like it was made for me.
I don’t live in Reno anymore, but when I did, I went out of my way to drive by this house, just so I could see it.
But my reaction to the idea that it is available for sale was a shrug — it is so far out of my price range that it’s a little bit like looking at the moon and being okay with never walking on it.
So, I was talking to my friend at the time that the house went on sale (when I was still living in Reno) and I told her how much it cost. A million dollars. I expected her to laugh with me about how ridiculous it was for me to even dream about living in it.
Instead she asked me why I thought I couldn’t have a house like that.
I mean, my income was okay, but it was much too low.
My savings was non-existent.
My credit score was 604.
No one was going to give me a million dollar home loan.
And MaryElleny said: Well, not today.
Why was I so quick to dismiss the idea of ever owning a house like that?
At that point, about a year ago, I’d increased my personal income (not my family income, but what I was personally earning) from $20,000 a year to $80,000.
I’ve 4X’d my income in a single year, but the idea of increasing it to the point of being able to buy that house (or one like it) was so absurd to me that it didn’t even feel like a real consideration.
It’s like there’s a wall there and stasis wants to pull me back to Normal World, where silly girls don’t think they can live in any old house they want.
We have a set point and we can dream about being somewhat above it and we can tolerate being somewhat below it, but it’s hard (really hard) to blast way past it. And falling way below it is traumatic (even if other people are totally okay with being where our way below is, by the way. If, say, Oprah one day found herself in my position, she would not be happy.)
Weight set-point thing is biological. The money set-point thing is social or psychological or maybe emotional. That’s good news.
That means that, now that I’m aware of how I’m maybe throwing up my own invisible walls, I should be able to either bust though them or scale them, right?
Be more aware
I know there are times when financial opportunities come my way, and I let them pass. Sometimes it just seems too big and scary. Sometimes the work involved seems overwhelming. I’m going to work on just being actively aware of those opportunities, so they aren’t passing me by without me even registering them.
My family has taken a big step in this direction by moving in this direction by moving from expensive Reno to inexpensive rural Pennsylvania where we can buy the kind of house that I talked about above for a fraction of the cost. (What a revelation, by the way.)
Realize that Blythe is involved
I’m a writer and Blythe is my inner editor. One of her favorite past times is to distract me from my work by popping a fabulous, bright, shiny new idea into my head. She also is an advocate for my perfectionism.
Really, she’s self-protective. Blythe knows that writing is damned hard work, and she tries to give me as many outs as possible. She’s pretty brilliant at it, too, because the reasons she throws up seem so reasonable, I can actually feel like I’m writing, when I’m not laying down a single word.
It turns out, Blythe doesn’t contain herself to my writing. She’s the one whispering in my ear that my favorite house just isn’t something that was meant for me. She’s the one who insists that even thinking about wanting more than what I have is greedy and kind of gross.
And she’s the one who quietly insists that the opportunities that come my way, or the ideas I have that would increase my income, are too hard. She whispers that I don’t really want to spend the time doing the work. She says why do it, when everything is just fine the way it is?
I’m already pretty good at taming Blythe. Now that I know what she’s up to, I can deal with her. You might have your own Blythe, by the way, even if you’re not a writer.
Prime my idea pump
I a big advocate of James Altucher’s advice about making a list of ten ideas a day.
I’m going to add to it, just a little, and try to think of just one thing, every day, that I can do to improve my business a little. Just one thing that might increase my income and break my money stasis by one percent.
I’m not going to worry about whether they’re good ideas or how to implement them.
The good idea will float and I’ll get excited about them and the how will come.