When it comes to having enough money to fully fund retirement, 67 percent of working Americans believe they are losing ground. If you share those concerns, you have a few choices:
- You can give up.
- You can buy more lottery tickets.
- You can hope for the best.
- You can decide to change.
If you’re ready to create a new financial reality, but are unsure about how to make that happen, it’s not too late to get started. In working with my clients and students — many of whom are hard workers and top earners but have money habits that aren’t serving their goals — I’ve found the best place to start is by attending to the conversations you have about money, especially the ongoing conversation you’re having with yourself.
Here’s an easy exercise that will reveal a wealth of information and allow you to make great strides toward a healthier relationship with your money.
For the next seven days, pay attention to your talk and self-talk about anything that has to do with money. Make it a point to examine the underlying belief that is the source of your thought. Once you do that, reframe your belief and restate you’re thought in a more empowering way.
Pay particular attention whenever you hear yourself thinking or saying the five following things. And then, ask yourself, “What strongly held belief underlies those words?”
- “I can’t afford that.”
What you likely believe: “Money is more powerful than I am.” This is a disempowering belief, typically used as an excuse for not having and doing what’s important to you. The truth is, money should never stop you from having what you want.
Change the thought: “I wonder how I can work that out?” Or, even stronger: “Let me work that out and get back to you.” If you’re really not going to buy it, just own that fact: “I’m not going to put that in my spending plan.”
- “It’s not about the money.”
What you likely believe: “There is something wrong with it being about the money. There is something wrong with wanting more income.” Saying this creates internal conflict because part of you wants to grow, and the other part says you’re wrong to focus on money. Usually people who say “it’s not about the money” are making very little money, or they’re undercharging for their services
Change the thought: “A high income can provide amazing things for me, my family and friends, my community, and the causes I care about. Earning more money will be a powerful way to sustain me and my loved ones and make a difference in the world.”
- “Someone else should handle this for me.”
What you likely believe: You may be hoping that your parents are going to pay for the kids to go to college, or you might be shirking financial responsibilities to your spouse. Either way, you’ve taken yourself out of the driver’s seat and signed over your financial success to someone else.
Change the thought: “No one is more qualified or cares more about my financial future than I do. I can find the resources to help me do it!”
- “I’m not good with money.”
What you likely believe: “I have a bad track record when it comes to handling money and little evidence that I can ever excel at it.”
Change the thought: Think about times when you acquired a new skill — perhaps you learned to play a musical instrument, or took up a new hobby. Yes, it wasn’t easy, but the payoff was enough to move you forward. Tell yourself, “I am creating a new, brighter, and better future that will be so great that it dwarfs any difficulties I experience in learning how to manage my finances.”
- “Someday, I will learn to manage my money better.”
What you likely believe: You think you’re incapable of taking control of your finances. This self-talk can be particularly debilitating because it postpones much-needed steps to change. “Someday” — an indefinite future — functions like a horizon you never reach.
Change the thought: “Today is the day I begin!” One way you can immediately cultivate more control over your finances is to schedule a daily “money minute.” In the morning, make a habit of logging on to your bank accounts — business and personal — and checking them out. Just being in a constant relationship with your money is a baseline for getting financially healthy.
Remember, Action and Belief Work Together
Take the next week to notice if you are repeating disempowering thoughts to yourself or others. Practice reframing those thoughts and rechanneling your actions. And then, let me know how your new thoughts and beliefs have changed the way you behave toward money.
Any worthwhile change takes practice, and it doesn’t happen overnight. I promise you, just this one small step has the power to set you on a path toward a bright financial future.