We all know the basics of financial health, no matter who you are or what your level of wealth is. We should save for the future. We should spend less than we bring in. We should enjoy life within safe boundaries. We should set goals and work towards them. We should give to causes graciously. We should, we should... Why is it that we know what we should do, but sometimes are not able to follow through and end up feeling burdened and guilty?
Can you embrace the idea that your financial challenges are not a measure of weakness or failure? Many of our challenges are predictable responses triggered by stress and anxiety to experiences we have had with money in our past. We are not bad or broken - just human. Many of our financial beliefs and behaviors are based on what we have observed and experienced and how we have mentally and emotionally digested them.
What "money scripts" are you playing in your head? They may be positive, and productive, or they may be negative and detrimental. The idea that our emotions, our mental faculties and our financial behaviors are connected is a novel idea, that once grasped, can open the doors of transformation. For most of us, simple recognition, awareness and training in how to dispel the lies that lie in our heads, or build upon beneficial truths will head us towards financial peace.
Having more money is not the answer, nor is having more information. With the world still licking its wounds from the financial trauma we have experienced and knowing that economic uncertainty is inevitable, we have an opportunity for growth. Is going through a painful economic experience enough to motivate us? We have the ability to look at our personal beliefs about money and start changing our behaviors.
The challenge starts with our resistance to change. A study done at Johns Hopkins Medical School followed people that underwent coronary-artery bypass grafting surgery. An invasive, risky, expensive and traumatic procedure; they were told that they needed to make dramatic lifestyle changes or they would die. After two years, 90 percent of them had not changed their behaviors. So whether it is your physical health or your financial health, we are adverse to shifting our beliefs and ensuing actions.
It seems our brains have a lot to do with how we deal with monetary issues and change. Dr. Brad Klontz and Dr. Ted Klontz have done in-depth research into how our reptilian, limbic and emotional brains are organized and the effects on our thinking and behavior when it comes to money.
Understanding and managing our rational and emotional minds is a very difficult thing to do. Not only do we need to look at ourselves, but we have families and layers upon layers of complexities to work through. Check out "Mind Over Money" by the good doctors for an insightful read.
Look around - there are problems. It's easy to look at the global, national, and local issues, with lots of fodder for talk shows and blogs. The hard part is to get personal and down to the nitty-gritty. At some level, we all have room to improve in our personal financial lives. It is easy to blame others and ourselves and resort to the path of least resistance - denial and status quo. Are we willing to peel off the candy coating of our financial lives and look at the hidden causes of our pain, disenchantment, restlessness? Are we willing to address financial flashpoints that had an emotional impact on us and are affecting our behavior? Are we willing to have safe conversations with spouses, family members and trusted advisors about what we want to build on or what needs to change? Are we willing to picture of a different way of doing money? We need new motivation to create financial health - fear and shame don't work. Picture the benefits you want to see. What does it look like? What does it feel like? I am inspired to make changes because I know my children and their children will benefit. What's yours?
Danielle Howard is a Certified Financial Planner ™ practitioner and Financial Life Planner®. Her office is located at 23300 Two Rivers Road in Basalt. Visit her at www.howardfinancialresources.com or call 927-3909. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Advisory services offered through Lighthouse Financial LLC, a registered investment advisor. Securities offered through Cambridge Investment Research Inc., a broker/dealer, member FINRA/SIPC. Cambridge and HFR are not affiliated.