How to Make More Money: Change Your Thoughts in 3 Steps
We spend a long time as human beings concerning ourselves with what happens from the neck down, focusing on our bodies; how they look, how they move, whether we have aliments or injuries, how we treat them etc.
We spend very little time thinking about the neck up i.e the mind.
The mind controls so much; positive thoughts for the day or negative thoughts for the day, how risky we perceive a situation to be, how fulfilled or satisfied we are, whether we're pessimists or optimists, whether the body needs to run from a situation or towards a situation.
The mind, has the ability to control how we feel about our finances; whether we have a lot of positive thoughts about life and around our finances, whether we are living an abundant life or a scarce life, whether we should buy the clothes or save the money, whether we should pay off our credit card bills monthly. Most people, myself included, think negatively about money; not earning enough to save, not understanding investing enough to put money aside for our future, not saving enough to pay off debt etc.
Over the past year, I've spent a considerable amount of time trying to learn how to build a positive financial mindset that removes excuses and sets action and realistic goals for saving, investing and debt repayments. Here are my top 3 money tips for you mind.
1. Your Problem is Not Unique
We're all unique human beings, no? We were placed on this planet in a miraculous way so we must be very different from each other. With that, our situation and problems are unique and different, and our scenarios are different as well?
No, you are not unique, and neither are your problems. Most of us tend to believe that our problems are unique only to us, that are problems are not felt or experienced by other people. We tend to believe that only we have suffered in a certain manner, or that only we have to face this issue alone.
Honestly, we're deluding ourselves. Your debt situation, your current bank account, your job path or career path, your combination of child care payments, travel arrangements and monthly overspending is NOT unique. It is experienced by hundreds of thousands of people around the world.
The reason why most of us stay in this "my situation is unique" problem is because it is safe; it requires no action, creates a victim mentality and can also provide a place to wallow. Wallowing is therapeutic and means you don't have to actually think about addressing the issue at hand. Your situation is not unique. You are not a victim.
This is a great thing to learn and get to grips with. If your problem is not unique then it has been solved before, many times. Check out Reddit personal finance, and Quora; the question has been asked before. The great thing about today is that the answer has been solved on these sites, or is probably most likely "Google-able". Start by writing down (before Google or Reddit personal finance, or Quora) all the ways you can address or overcome the issue. Now Google it; find stories of how people escaped debt, saved more, invested more effectively.
I started the CFO series to find information on how financially savvy people invest and save their money as I was struggling with finding ways to save and invest. Remember, your problems are not unique; there is an answer out there.
This leads me onto my next point:
Take Very Small Incremental Steps
I have a habit of blowing things our of proportion; in my mind actions are huge and require a lot of courage to conquer. I believe this action to be a massive issue that requires a significant outpouring of time, action and energy. Almost nothing is like this; everything is the combination of tiny steps; sometimes in the right direction, and sometimes in the wrong direction.
My boyfriend recently pointed this out to me while we were discussing career dreams and plans. I detailed out my career dreams, and then proclaimed that I would never get there, as it was a huge almost insurmountable goal. This binary, black and white, all of nothing thinking is encompassed in the idea of taking small steps. The dream in its entirety merely overwhelmed me, seemed out of reach and was promptly forgotten.
Recognising that the dream is a series of small steps, even if I don't know what they are right now, or I haven't detailed out the pathway was powerful in putting that dream back in my vision. From a financial perspective, if you in debt, start by overpaying an extra £5 a month on your credit card. Find one thing in your house that you can sell on ebay for some money. Read one story about how someone else got out of debt. Write down one thing you think might help the situation. Start with one small thing.
Similarly, the opposite is true. Want to save more money? Start by putting aside another £10 a month into a savings pot. Start very small. Nothing that overwhelms you, or take great amounts of courage. Just one very small step. Psychologically, you can deal with this marginal change; nothing massive is happening and you are not dramatically rocking the boat. Just one small step.
Tied in with this is working out when is best to do these tasks. For me the morning is a less overwhelming time compared to the evening when I am exhausted and overwhelmed regularly. My boyfriend is the opposite. Find what works for you. Digest those big problems.
Theory of Constraints
I work with an exceptionally smart CTO who uses the "theory of constraints" whenever the engineering team are trying to speed up a process or solve a problem. At any one given time there is a weakest link in a process; it may be a piece of code in the database, or a client request, or an employee issue. There is something, usually small, that prevents the entire system from flourishing.
The same principle can be applied to your finances; analyse your bank statements with a fine tooth comb. What is preventing you from reach your goal. Do you have a savings goal or an investing goal? Analyse your daily routine; do you walk past a Starbucks every day that demands money on a caramel machiatto. Do you have a takeaway every Friday and Saturday night as there is never any food in the house. Analyse your habits to understand where your money is going.
I love this form of simplification; you break a process down into it's simplest issue, and you tackle the issue that is the single biggest blocker; spending too much on food a week, not earning enough at work, mortgage repayments too high, daily lattes sapping your free cash? Simplify the issue down to the smallest problem and tackle that. This alleviates that all consuming thinking of not understanding how to tackle a problem.
2. Goal Setting
I'm not good at goal setting; the process of detailing out how and whether my goals are SMART is taxing and tedious. It bores me. I am, however a dreamer; despite being an accountant, I would happily live in a creative bubble and world of my own. I do, however, write my dreams out. Where do I see myself in 2, 3, 5, 10 years if all my dreams were to come true. It's an exciting exercise to go through, and really focuses the mind on what you actually want.
Where do you want to live? What do you want to be doing? Do you want to be in the city or countryside? Do you want to be married, with pets, kids, car? What will you be wearing? What will you be eating and reading and thinking about? Are you going to do charity work? Will you still be working? One of the things that this helps me do is to actually decide what my dreams look like. We often perceive we are trapped in certain situations, and sometimes we are. Sometimes we're up to our eyes in debt, or we don't know where the next job is coming from. Dreaming alleviates that, and puts an idea in your head of where you want to go.
Our brains are wired on the idea of scarcity, and so we often perceive we are trapped.
Set up a different way to think: you are running towards being rich (or your definition of wealth); you are not running away from debt. Running away from debt brings the idea of scarcity; when you let go of this idea, you realise all the possibilities and opportunities out there to be rich.
I have discussed ideas for how to make more money extensively, but most recently on "4 Ways to Save 40% of Your Monthly Income"
If you don't like goal setting, another trick I employ regularly is Just Being Aware
If you stand on the bathroom scales every morning you will eat less for breakfast. It's been proven in many a scientific study. If you are dieting and you write down what you eat every day, you will most likely eat less. The very act of tracking what you have done or what the situation is, brings us awareness.
The same is true for your finances; if you log into your bank account every morning you are aware for the day on what you can and can't spend. Additionally, if you track your spending you will most likely spend less money. Just be aware of your finances. Be aware how much something actually costs. Be aware of what your fees are on the broker platform for your investments. Don't stress and panic over it, but be aware.
We live in an instantaneous society, where we want everything NOW. Social media, and the advent of mobiles has helped drive that but we are an "always on" and now culture. One of my favourite sayings is from Warren Buffet "someone sitting in the shade today is because someone planted a tree a long time ago". Becoming wealthy is a process; there is no silver bullet for getting it now. You need to employ a wealthy mindset over time, and build financial success over time. Nothing comes from now. Even people who win the lottery tend to go broke, as they're never had to save or invest, or go through the process, of being wealthy, and now they don't know what to do other than spend money.
Coupled with goal setting, your goals are your own. Don't make goals based on what Mr Jones next door says your goals should be. Similarly don't base your goals on what you perceive Mr Jones to have. Firstly, you don't know their situation, so don't assume or judge it and secondly, their goals might not be right for you, or right full stop. Stop comparing yourself and run your own path.
Finally, do you know what the biggest effect on the mind is?
I know, I know I know; I have spent this article preaching about the importance of focusing on the mind. I've talked about how we don't focus on the mind, and focus too much on the body. The truth is though that the two are deeply interconnected. Your mind is run from your body and vice versa; you need oxygenated blood, nutrients etc to make your mind function properly. Richard Branson proclaims that the best form of confidence boosting he finds is from exercising. It makes him feel unstoppable; if it makes a millionaire who has founded and sold more companies than I've ever worked at feel confident and unstoppable, then it must be powerful.
I couldn't agree more with the notion of exercise influencing a positive mindset. Exercise pushes your body, oxygenates your mind and kicks off those happy go luck hormones, endorphins. Exercise instantly puts you in a separate frame of mind. Not only this, but exercise gives you the mental space to work through anything. Most people sad live in a world of time reducing activities; television and social media perpetuate that. For me, personally, a bad day is cured by a run. My time, my space, my happy hormones. For me exercise taught me that when things get tough, if you keep going you'll see the change. That is applicable to every element of your life.
And you know what...exercise always gives me a free pass on dessert and chocolate...
If you have any other suggestions on ways to improve your mind set around money, please leave them in the comments below.
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