Starting a financial planning practice can be difficult…and I have done it twice. The first time, things started coming together for me after a year. I was building my practice and acquiring clients, and some of the tension I felt over tight cash flow and starting my own business was starting to ease. But even in the midst of professional and financial success, I couldn’t feel it. I didn’t feel the prosperity because how I felt about anything wasn’t even a consideration back then.
What I got instead of prosperity…
I made good money, but I was completely unconscious about what I was spending money on—and you can’t feel prosperity or anything when you’re unconscious. Sometimes people are unconscious because that’s their survival mechanisms—be it formed from a household with addiction issues, an event or even simply because they aren’t ready to face up to a place in their lives that is making them unhappy.
Since I grew up in a codependent household, I always carried the weight of the world on my shoulders, and felt responsible for making everything “perfect” for everyone around me. Money simply became another tool to help make that happen.
I never questioned my motivations or whether or not it was the “right” thing to do with my money; and sure, I was taught to be organized, pay your taxes, never carry debt and to save for retirement…but those are very ambiguous objectives in the face of present-day, very real concerns—or at least, the things I perceived as problems, such as:
- Buying a house hoping it would bring my loved one and I closer
- Covering for happy hour drinks for my trainees multiple times per week
- Signing over my commissions to a colleague who was having a particularly hard month
- Paying for a friend’s divorce attorney
- Traveling around the country on my own dime to shadow a (crappy) mentor
- Giving away thousands of dollars to friends who “needed” my help
This doesn’t even include random purchases; this is just the stuff I can point back to that demonstrates a significant investment or output. One might think that these were isolated incidents and hey, if you have the money, why not?
How over-generosity can rob you of prosperity
But here’s the thing: if I looked closely at my history—even before I was making good money–I ALWAYS have made the mistake of giving more than I got back, even without money. And my codependency, my willingness to put other people before myself was simply amplified with more money. People thought I was being generous, and so did I. But it was a pattern of trying to get something from other people that I wasn’t giving to myself.
More than ten years later, I am very careful with myself. When I feel inspired to make a big gesture, I ask myself, “What am I hoping to get back by doing this?” Usually it’s something the person would give anyway, like support, attention, etc. OR, I would realize that I can’t “control” someone into the outcome I hope for, and figure out a way to give myself what I crave from that other person. Over time, I’ve also learned to trust myself. And knowing you can trust yourself with money decisions is a powerful thing.
How to build prosperity
Prosperity is that feeling of satisfaction you get when you realize that everything you could possibly need is covered. This doesn’t mean that you don’t get to feel prosperous until you’ve achieved total financial freedom; it means that you can run through your head and think of multiple worse-case scenarios…combine that with what you know you’re working toward in terms of goals and financial health and realize, “Hm, I’ve got all of that covered.”
Prosperity doesn’t mean you don’t need to plan your spending—even the highest earners I work with plan how they are going to spend their money. Prosperity means that you feel secure in the idea that you have the resources, and can funnel them according to your changing needs.
I didn’t feel truly prosperous with money until I became aware of my codependent dynamics. For starters, I literally was more prosperous because I quit wasting money and using it on other people. Secondly, I felt more prosperous, because I started paying close attention to what I was spending my money on, and only kept spending money on those things that made me happy. Finally, I started giving myself those things, that attention and support that I had been unconsciously trying to “buy” from others.
Start feeling more prosperity today
The single-best action people can take to start feeling more prosperity? Start NOTICING:
- Notice what you’re spending money on, and how it makes you feel
- Notice how secure (or insecure) you feel about emergencies or worse-case scenarios
- Notice where and how your money flows through your life
- Notice how much you keep, and how that makes you feel
If you’re codependent, one of the first things you are encouraged to do from a therapeutic standpoint is start savings account, just for YOU. This can be terrifying if you’re accustomed to putting everyone before yourself. But I think in any situation where you haven’t been fully conscious, it’s a great idea to start building cash savings. You will be surprised at how good it feels to have somewhere to turn when an emergency arises. Then, when you realize that the ground no longer shifts beneath your feet with every new situation, only then will you feel true prosperity.
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