Ever feel like you should be well ahead of where you are now, especially financially? That feeling as though you work so hard and yet you have nothing to show for it?
This is a feeling that many of us share. What’s more, often certain milestones can exacerbate that feeling of failure such as milestone birthdays (such as turning 40), or the end of the calendar year.
It is easy to understand why you might feel this way, especially thanks to the highlight reel that is social media. Think about it. None of us post our bad days on social media: that we are stressed about money, that we are arguing with our partner about money, that we are drowning in debt.
No. Instead, everyone posts the ‘highlights’: Here is us buying our dream home, picking up our new car, going on that dream family vacation.
It can easily make you think ‘look at what they are doing! What do I have to show for all my years of hard work?”
The challenge is that this way of thinking can often sabotage our progress (without us even realising it), for two simple reasons:
#1 Negative self-talk that feeds our fear of failure
Because money is so closely tied to our ability to have food and shelter (in other words, our survival), it is easy for our fear instinct to go into overdrive.
This means that we can be easily driven (and limited) by fear when we make any financial decision. Fear of losing money. Fear of failure. Fear of embarrassment. Although these are not life or death situations, they will leave us feeling paralysed to act just the same.
So, what happens when we say to ourselves – what do I have to show for all my hard work? The story doesn’t end there. We will continue to look for evidence of our inaptitude. The savings that we never set aside. That car loan that we regret. The credit card that we maxed out. The relationship that sent us broke.
Hindsight is 20-20 vision and without a doubt every single one of us have regrets when it comes to money, and things we wish we had done differently. But, if we are not careful, these regrets can feed into negative self talk that says “see, I’m no good with money”, “see, I always make bad decisions”, “see, I am a poor judge of character”, etc.
The end result is that we can start feeling fear to the extent that it will stop us from even trying to take any action.
#2 Impulsive decisions driven by emotion
Feeling a lack of accomplishment can also feed our emotions. If we aren’t careful, these can lead to us making financial decisions that we later come to regret.
For example, feeling the need to play “catch up”, so you overextend yourself on the mortgage so you can buy that dream home. Getting tired of feeling stressed, anxious and depressed about your finances so you whip out the credit card and take your family on a nice holiday to cheer yourself up. Feeling embarrassed about the age of the car you drive, so you lease a nice new car.
These are just some examples of how our emotions can cause us to have a knee-jerk reaction to our finances and make impulsive decisions that we later come to regret.
If we don’t take the time to become consciously aware of our thoughts, beliefs and habits around money, this can easily become a vicious cycle:
1) we beat ourselves up for past mistakes, to the point that we convince ourselves we are bad with money.
2) Our fear of repeating our mistakes and lack of confidence leaves us paralysed to take any action.
3) Eventually we get tired of feeling this way and so we make an impulsive decision to do something that will make us feel better about ourselves.
4) We experience buyer’s remorse and start to beat ourselves up for past mistakes – resuming the cycle all over again.
A simple exercise to improve your self confidence
If this is sounding familiar, the good news is that there are simple things that you can do, to help you shift your narrative – starting with re-writing your money story.
Instead of focusing on all the mistakes of your past, take a look through a more positive lense – how might someone else view your situation? What are all the good decisions you have made over the years? Write them down and use them to remind yourself that you are more than capable, any time someone tries to tell you otherwise.
If you struggle with this exercise its ok. We are naturally better at criticising ourselves than seeing our accomplishments for what they are. In that case, imagine that your life story is that of a friend or someone you admire. How would you perceive their life’s accomplishments in that case? (in other words, look at your life from the stand-point of a third party).
Need a helping hand?
Would you like to increase your conscious awareness with money so that you can become more intentional and effective and create a new and improved money blueprint for 2020? Then I invite you to complete this money type quiz and claim your free 20 minute coaching call. Let’s have a chat about what frustrations or challenges you are experiencing with your money and how we can help you shift the way you manage your money, for the better.