04 May Two Secrets to Becoming Financially Successful, Part 1
“Fortunate, indeed, is the man who takes exactly the right measure of himself, and holds a just balance between what he can acquire and what he can use, be it great or be it small.”
— Peter Mere Latham
Thank you for deciding to read this short article. As you undoubtedly know by now, it gives me great pleasure to imagine people spending two or three minutes reading and gathering thoughts and perspectives that might make their life easier and more enjoyable. So here goes!
We’ll first look at what constitutes being financially successful. It begins with the definition of success I’ve developed after coaching people worldwide for decades.
Success is consistently doing what you said you would do with clarity, focus, ease, and grace. Let’s break this down:
a. Clarity means being clear about what’s important to you, not what you should have or must have, but seeing where what you want is a reflection of your most closely held values.
b. Focus is about training yourself to focus on what you really want without distractions that waste your time or energy.
c. Ease is about learning to take small, sweet steps toward your goal without doing so much that you become tired or overwhelmed.
d. Grace occurs when you see the blessings that already surround you. The gateway to grace is gratitude.
Let’s apply this definition to your relationship with money.
Financial success means consistently doing what you said you’d do, with money, with clarity, focus, ease, and grace. In this case:
Clarity means knowing how to use money to satisfy what’s most important to you. Not wasting money on ideas or things that mean nothing to you in the long run.
Focus means training yourself to direct your money toward what you truly want without distraction. If you receive as many emails as most people do, you’ll undoubtedly see how easy it is to be distracted by sparkly new ideas and promises at least 100 times a day. I call it the S.O.S. or Sparkly Object Syndrome.
Elise: Yesterday, I got an email about a product on sale! It was something that I was sure I wanted. I felt my heart rate go up and was about to push the “sold” button when I stopped. I’ve wasted money before on something I just had to have! So I did what you coached me to do. I closed that email and waited 20 minutes until that “dopamine high” wore off. When I went back and looked at that product, I saw I didn’t want it that much. No more S.O.S. for me! It wasn’t worth spending money on.
What have you wasted your money on? How can you tell if you’re exhibiting that syndrome? This is how: you see something that’s been attractively displayed. Your heart rate goes up. You feel you must have that object! Companies have discovered how to evoke that “dopamine high.” Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that’s linked to pleasure. When that’s circulating in your brain, you want to do something that evokes that pleasurable sensation again. After you press the button that completes the sale, your heart rate goes down. That is until you find the next thing that promises to raise the dopamine level again. Incidentally, that may be why so many of us become addicted to slot machines and why apps now allow us to play for real money online.
Ease: You can experience ease in several ways. The first is taking “small, sweet steps” regarding your money.
For example, do you have a holiday savings account where a certain amount is automatically deposited into that account each month? What has this got to do with ease? Everything!
Jonas: I used to wake up with a “spending hangover” on January 2nd every year. I knew I’d gone way beyond what I’d planned to spend on presents, a holiday party, and new clothes for the inevitable December 31st celebration with my friends. Then my credit card bills came in about two weeks later, and I felt even worse. Lots of regrets, along with guilt for spending so much.
Then I opened a holiday savings account. The bank took $200 a month off of whatever I deposited. I knew I didn’t have money as before and had to cut spending on extras, like playing games and buying extra “lives.” I spent about $75 on those games.
When November 1st came around, I had nearly $2400 to spend on the holiday celebrations! I was amazed at how easy it was to save! I spent $3000 last year. The extra $600 was easier on my credit card! I enjoyed the holiday festivities because I knew there wouldn’t be struggles.
The above story is only one example of having a difficult time. Where have you been grappling with money? For example, where do you focus on attaining goals with money that are too much of a stretch for you?
Alice: I’ve just started a coaching business. There is one lesson I’ve had to learn the hard way: promising myself to attain financial goals that are a stretch but don’t require extraordinary effort. Yes, I’ve heard about “Big, Hairy Goals,” but that way of looking at them is unsustainable. You run out of energy fast and then want to quit. I’ve tried it and, well, I stopped!
Instead, I’m going for a money goal that is a stretch yet small and sweet enough that I’ll attain it with ease. I’ve promised myself and my coach that I’ll have two new clients each month for six months. Then I’ll decide whether to increase that promise to 3 or 4 a month.
Grace means seeing the blessings that occur for you each day. The gateway to Grace is gratitude. You might keep a Money Gratitude Journal by looking for what you’re grateful for daily regarding money. Place it by your bed and list three “money gratitudes” daily. The more you do this, the more you’ll see what has been there around you always, just waiting for you!
“What brings fulfillment is gratefulness, the simple response of our heart to this given life in all its fullness.” Brother David Steindl-Rast
Next week: Part 2 of Being Financially Successful!
Until then, please consider what we’ve looked at here! It just might transform your relationship with money!