There is an old saying that goes ‘money is a tool to get you where you want to go, but it will not replace you as the driver’. And yet so often we give the power and the blame to money. We completely forget that we are in fact the ones in charge. Money (or more specifically the lack of money) becomes the thing standing between us and a happier, more fulfilling lifestyle. The problem with thinking in this way is that it makes us feel powerless and stops us from taking action.
If you are ready to regain control of your budget, here are some common mistakes and how you can avoid them.
#1 Lacking clear goals
Goal setting seems so simple that we often don’t bother with it. When I ask clients what their dream life would look like, they often say “I would travel more” or “I would work less”. While this can be a great starting point, you need to go deeper. Break these statements down into specific targets. Then attach a dollar figure and timeframe to them. Otherwise, you will find it impossible to achieve them (even if you get financial advice). If you find it difficult to name what you want, know that you are not alone! Most women actually struggle with setting meaningful goals. This is because we start coming up with all the objections – the reasons why there’s no point in setting these goals in the first place. Which brings me to my next point….
#2 Believing your fears
The biggest reason most women don’t pursue their goals has very little to do with circumstances and a lot to do with our mindset. Whether it is a fear of failure or fear of letting others down, we let these fears become the reasons why we remain stuck where we are. A useful exercise is to lean into these fears and write all the objections down. Next, test their validity (or what I like to call, doing a sanity check).
What you will often find is that your mind has a capacity to deeply exaggerate worst case scenarios, so by writing your fears down it becomes easier to disarm them. Having done away with the unlikely outcomes (e.g. if I fail everyone will laugh at me), you will then be left with a list of legitimate fears (for example, if I stop work to start my dream business I won’t have money to pay the bills). Now it is time to brainstorm solutions to these challenges – for example, if starting your own business is a dream, then planning to build up some savings or scaling back your hours rather than quitting your job altogether, could be potential solutions to help you get there.
#3 Thinking you are bad with money
Whether you tell yourself you make bad decisions, lack discipline or just find money matters too complicated, it is important to shift this narrative if you want to truly succeed. Because our thoughts influence our actions, they have a way of becoming self-fulfilling prophecies. Our mind likes to reinforce our beliefs (this is known as confirmation bias) and will look for evidence to support this view of the world. Instead, practice turning these negative beliefs into positive ones and then reinforce them by journalling.
Some effective journalling prompts are:
- List the challenges you have overcome in the past
- Write down all the good decisions you made or times when you trusted your gut
- Brainstorm a list of available resources that can support you
- If someone you admire made those same mistakes, what would you say to them?
- What skills and abilities do you possess that can help you to succeed?
- What lessons have you learned from past experiences that will help you in the future?
#4 Focusing on things outside of your control
Many people suffer from financial anxiety, which can prevent us from taking any action. Quite often, our minds focus on things that are outside of our control (what if interest rates rise? What if there is a recession?), which only ends up exacerbating our anxiety and leaving us feeling even more powerless. Whatever your goals or fears are, it is important to focus your mind back on those things that you can control. For example, while you may not control interest rates, you can do things to help you manage those risks (such as building up more savings, sub-letting a room, etc). The more you focus on action that is within your control, the less anxiety you will experience.
#5 Being overly self-critical
We all have an inner dialogue running through our head. Very often that dialogue takes the form of negative self-talk. We think that obsessing over past mistakes and imperfections will help us to do better in the future. Instead, negative self-talk only serves to erode our self confidence and can in fact prevent us from pursuing our goals. This is why it is important to get in the habit of practicing self-compassion and positive self-talk. The better you get at silencing that inner critic, the more your confidence will grow and the easier it will be to pursue your goals.
Some stragies include:
- Practice noticing all the things you have done well
- Write down your positive attributes
- Lookin the mirror and give yourself a compliment.
- If you make a mistake, remind yourself that mistakes are a necessary part of growth.
Remember, money can only rule and limit your life if you let it. Change the way you relate to money and you will change the way money flows into your life.
Natasha Janssens is a Certified Money Coach (CMC)® and founder of Women with Cents. She is an award winning finance expert with a passion for supporting women to transform their relationship with money. If you don't know what you don't know when it comes to money and financial matters, her book Wonder Woman's Guide to Money is for you. If you would like to work with Natasha, take the Money Type Quiz and book a quick get-to-know you call.