If you knew everything was going to be okay, what would you do differently with your money?
Now, please don’t take this as everything-is-going-to-be-okay-so-I-bear-no-personal-responsibility-for-anything. I am NOT talking about a universal, get-out-of-jail-free card…I am talking about wisdom. Wisdom is what you acquire when you’ve been around long enough to screw up multiple times, and you’re still here.
Sometimes, people get so uptight about things–money, for instance–that they forget, a kazillion humans have gone through tough times before and have come out okay. Sometimes people get uptight when things don’t go exactly as planned. Was your goal to save $500 this month, but you only managed to save $250? Excellent! You’re trending up and saved 250% more than the prior month when you didn’t save anything, before you had a goal. Well done! Your monkey brain tells you this isn’t what you had planned on, while wisdom sees that you’re trending on a new and awesome wealth-building path, regardless of the result.
In fact, if you have time to read this blog, I’m gonna guess that maybe you even have it good, compared to a lot of people (since people in survival and stress and freaking out don’t really have time for personal finance blog reading). Wisdom is that inner confidence and serenity that you know you’re going to be OK — no matter what your current circumstance.
Worry is the opposite of wisdom
From where I sit behind this fancy financial planner’s desk (OK, it’s really not that fancy…it’s IKEA), the biggest reason you’re not happy and serene is because of WORRY. Now, some people might argue that worry is a symptom of a problem — that you’re worrying because you need to solve something, and your brain is working on it.
In this case, worry is an obsessive habit—and it’s actually adding unneeded negative emotion to your money thoughts. So much of money stuff, we just don’t know, because, who has a crystal ball? We have to take things as they come.
No matter how much you worry about the stock market, it will still go up and down. In fact, lack of emotion is indicative of better returns — meaning the less you worry about it, the better it tends to do for you. In Seattle, people worry about never, ever being able to afford a home with our crazy high prices. You know what? Maybe you aren’t supposed to afford a home in Seattle. Or maybe you are. But worrying about it doesn’t help.
You see what I am getting at? Either there is a decision point or there isn’t. And if there isn’t, worrying about it won’t actually help anything.Wisdom is that inner confidence and serenity that you know you’re going to be OK — no matter what your current circumstance. Click To Tweet
The cure for the worry
But here’s the exciting thing: You don’t have to worry. No, I’m not being philosophical here. You literally don’t have to worry.
Worry is a habit, and if it’s one we practice, it’s also one we can break. People think you’re either a born worrier or not, but it’s a habit that has to be developed. And that means it can be overcome. Start by trying these steps:
- Make a list of everything that’s worrying you about your finances. Put it aside for a while, then go back at it with new eyes. Ask yourself if you can take action to address any of your worries. If you can, add those tasks to a to-do list.
- Next, look at those unproductive worries that are left. What do you need to accept to overcome them? You might need to accept a degree of uncertainty or your own limitations.
- Practice discomfort. Many worriers feel like they can’t tolerate discomfort, so start desensitizing yourself to it in small doses. Try something new, go to a social event you wouldn’t normally go to, accept that public speaking invitation. A lot of times, worrying is a coping strategy, but realizing that you can tolerate discomfort means you’ll need that coping mechanism less.
- Take a breath. Worries often feel urgent, like if we don’t address them somehow right away, there will be disastrous consequences! Ask yourself if that’s really true. If it’s not, press the snooze button on that worry — even if it’s just for a few hours. Promise yourself you can think about it later. Then increase the time you “snooze” it a little more each time.
Once you start to better manage your worry reaction — and more importantly, what that worry is a coping mechanism to avoid — you can consciously and mindfully break through to the other side. I’m not going to promise everything always turns out perfectly the way you hoped it would, but regardless, when you lose worry and achieve wisdom, “perfect” stops mattering to you. If you think you could use some support with some of these money mindset issues, you might want to check out my free resource library (it has tons of stuff around this). You can get that here.