Monthly Archives: August 2012
I have often struggled with ideas that can communicate the power of a single thought. Our brains have been labeled as the 3 lb. universe and in many ways this is totally appropriate.
If our brains only weigh three lbs. and we have literally millions and billions of thoughts stored somewhere, what does a thought weigh? That seems like kind of a non-sense inquiry-but wait a minute.
It has been estimated that we think some 60,000 thoughts every single day. In addition to our thoughts, we handle tens of thousands of bits of information as a result only of external stimuli.
Others have approximated the amount of negative information each of us process to be representative of at least 90% of the stimuli we process. Indeed, I would add that for many, the vast majority of their inner thoughts are also negative.
Now if you think of our 3 lb. universe that way, then how much does all of the negativity weigh? Perhaps the true weight loss program we should all endeavor to maintain is the one that’s aimed at losing those negative thought patterns.
All of the no-don’t, you can’t, you’ll never succeed at that, etc. and so forth. In other words, every self-limiting, self-imposed notion that proscribes what we will try and how well we will do at it. This is the kind of weight loss that applies to most of us.
The role the subconscious plays in limiting one’s success, in motivating their buying patterns, in establishing their beliefs thus their core blueprint, in fact–in literally every aspect of one’s life cannot be understated.
Indeed, the evidence is in: the subconscious instructs the conscious what to do, what to say, when to act and more and it does so as much as 60 seconds before the conscious mind responds.
The mind is very much like a large container that you can fill with anything you want, but then that input becomes it program. Years ago I likened this to the old computer programmers GIGO meaning Garbage In Garbage Out.
Most of us desire to change something. We want to improve our lives in some way. Change-that seems to be the theme of the day everywhere. During this last election cycle I found myself doing several radio and television interviews regarding subliminal communication and the art of persuasion.
There were subliminal ads aimed at both political parties and there were a number of other psychological techniques employed to gain your vote, but then there’s nothing new about that. What did impress me was the number of people on both sides who were just totally fired up about the election.
There was a new level of energy, a higher sense of enthusiasm and as a result, some deeper divides. Passion-that is the word I would use to describe this last presidential election; passion on both sides of the aisle.
Pundits for both sides had plenty to say but ultimately everything came down to one word– “change.” The dynamics of the election were such that change was virtually assured in some way regardless of who emerged victorious.
Change is what the world wanted as well, and change is what the world celebrated when Americans chose President Obama. Our time now is a time of change and change is what we want and change is what most people resist when it gets right down to it. Change is actually attenuated by fear the fear of the unknown.
My staff has asked me over the years about our products and our philosophy. Whenever I am asked this question I think of Bill Gates and his book, “Business at the Speed of Light.”
Gates explains in this book how the railroad companies used to think of themselves as in the business of trains. Had they recognized that their business was transportation, there would have been a different future in front of them then that of trains alone.
Whether it’s about business or a matter of a more personal nature, change begins in the mind. Real change is not possible until there is agreement between the subconscious and the conscious mind, stand guard at the doorways of your mind and negotiate with the power of the positive realizing within that life will pay what you ask of it. Claiming your right to succeed consciously may well be later undermined by inner conflicts, unconscious/subconscious beliefs, motives and mechanisms.
Think for a moment, what would you like to change? If you could change anything about yourself, what would it be? What would you change that is changeable? Would you like more energy and enjoy feeling and looking much younger? Would you like a greater sense of inner peace?
Would you benefit from a better memory or an enhanced learning ability? Would you like to improve or attract a relationship in your life?
Would you like to find the perfect employment? Would you like to change your body image or end some addiction? Or how about becoming fitter and/or more athletic? Again, what would you change?
My research over the past 30 years has repeatedly verified a simple hypothesis. In order to truly change-you must change your mind.
This article is the final installment of a 14-part series that explored the core tenets of Get Rich Slowly.
Here’s the opening paragraph from my forthcoming book, Financial Fertility: Your Missing Money Link. It’s the sum of everything I’ve learned during my five year journey to get rich slowly:
You don’t want to be rich; you want what you believe the money will buy you to make you happy. Many people mistakenly believe that the former leads to the latter. While it’s certainly true that money can help you achieve your goals, provide for your future, and make life more enjoyable, merely having money doesn’t guarantee happiness.
Many of us (including me) get wrapped up in the belief that having more money is the key to a better life. It’s not, the key to a better life is increased happiness. For some people, that does mean more money. But according to the research Tal Ben-Shahar shares in his book Happier, most of us would be better served by:
Creating rituals around the things we love to do.
Expressing gratitude for the good things in our lives.
Setting meaningful goals that reflect our values and interests.
Playing to our strengths instead of dwelling on weaknesses.
Simplifying our lives, not just the Stuff, the time.
We’re more likely to lead happy lives by putting these principles into practice than by getting another raise at work, especially if the increased income would only lead to increased spending. When we focus on monetary goals, we run the risk of becoming trapped on the “hedonic treadmill” (also known as lifestyle inflation), working harder and harder to make more and more money. This does not lead to happiness.
Sometimes money can buy happiness
Wealth and happiness aren’t mutually exclusive, of course. According to financial writer Jonathan Clements, financial stability improves your well-being in three ways:
If you have money, you don’t have to worry about it. By living below your means, you can obtain a degree of financial control even if you aren’t rich. Avoiding debt gives you options.
Money can give you the freedom to pursue your passions. What is it you want out of life? What gives you a sense of purpose? These are the sorts of things you want to pursue in retirement. Better yet, try to structure your career around something you love to do.
Money can buy you time with friends and family. In fact, Clements says, true wealth comes from relationships, not from dollars and cents. Social capital is worth more than financial capital.
Money is a tool. As with any tool, a skilled craftsman can use it to build something amazing: a meaningful life filled with family and friends. If you’re not careful, if you don’t have a plan, the life you construct with your money can be a tenuous thing, even dangerous.
Studies show that the pursuit of money is less likely to bring personal fulfillment than focusing on self-improvement and, especially, close relationships with others. Here are a handful of lessons I’ve learned during my research into the connection between money and wealth. I didn’t come up with any of these ideas; they’re products of actual research into what makes us happy:
People who are materialistic tend to be less happy than those who aren’t. If your aim is to have more money and more Stuff, you’ll be less content than others whose goals are built around relationships or mental/spiritual fulfillment. (Life will pay you what you ask of it.)
Over saving does not lead to happiness. While it’s important to save for the future (and to cope with current emergencies), research shows that over saving can actually have a negative impact on your quality of life. If you’re meeting your goals for saving, it’s okay to spend some on the things that make you happy.
Experiences tend to make us happier than material things. We have different reactions to the money we spend on experiences and the money we spend on Stuff: When we spend on experiences, our perceptions are magnified (meaning we feel happier or sadder than when we spend on Stuff), and the feelings tend to linger longer. And since most of our experiences are positive, spending on activities instead of material goods generally makes us happier.
When we lower our expectations, our happiness increases. High expectations come when we compare ourselves to others or when advertising bombards us. We come to accept the things we see on TV as “normal”, and because we don’t have these things, we feel inadequate.
Our expectations rise, and before long we’re caught up in lifestyle inflation. If we can consciously manage our expectations, both financial and otherwise we increase our sense of well-being.
Really, there’s only one-way to ever be satisfied with how much money you have: You must define how much is enough. True happiness comes when you learn to be content with what you have. If you don’t take the time to figure out what enough means to you, you’ll always be unhappy with your financial situation.
How much is enough?
Enough looks different to each of us. It’s not just different amounts of money, but different types of wealth. For me, enough is being debt free with the time freedom to travel the world to participate in the many bicycle events and to train in different environments to enrich my experience of cycling. For you, enough may mean living in a small apartment but owning a boat and having the freedom to sail for months at a time.
To find enough, you have to set goals. You have to look inside to find your morals, values and beliefs that make up your blueprint. It can take months or years to get clear on what makes a meaningful life for you, or it can take a moment to find clarity, once you’ve done this, you can make choices that reflect your priorities.
After all, that’s why you’re doing this. You’re not building wealth just so you can bathe in buckets of cash. You’re building wealth so you don’t have to worry about money, so you can pursue your passions, and so you can spend time with your family and friends.
Remember, my friends: True wealth isn’t about money. True wealth is about relationships, about good health, and about continued self-improvement. True wealth is about happiness. Ultimately, it’s more important to be happy than it is to be rich because success without fulfillment is failure.
This article is the 13th of a 14-part series that explores the core tenets of Get Rich Slowly.
Three years ago, I was a different woman. I was recently divorced, I had no savings, retirement or otherwise. I was starting over from zero because of my impotent goals coupled with the fact that I had just gone through a divorce. I was over $185,000 in debt. I just began speaking again and writing books. I spent my free time on my bicycle to free my mind, find clarity and discovered this is where I find my greatest inspiration, honesty with others and myself, it is where I find humble through my strengthened relationship with God.
Let’s fast-forward to today. I have an amazing life living my dreams. I’m out of debt. I have more than $20,000 in emergency savings, I max out my retirement accounts every year, and I make more than I ever have in my life. Best of all, I earn my money doing something I love: helping others to find their passion and discover new ways to achieve it. My work is meaningful; it helps other people while I’m helping myself.
What changed? Well, to put it bluntly, I made a decision to do what I love and to love what I do because of this I am successful. What does this mean to you? This is your recipe for success, duplicate and you too will be successful.
It’s easy to read about personal finance (or any other area of self-improvement) and to tell yourself, “Yeah. That sounds nice. I really should spend less on eating out. I really should exercise more. I really should open a Roth IRA.”
It’s easy to tell yourself these proven facts although few people actually follow through. They talk the talk; they just don’t walk the walk. Instead, they sit on their hands, afraid to take action. They procrastinate because that’s what seems easiest. (And sometimes they actively try to interfere with those who are bold enough to make changes in their lives.)
In The War of Art, Steven Pressfield writes about defeating procrastination and the other things that prevent us from fulfilling our dreams: fear, rationalization, self-doubt. Pressfield calls these dream-killers Resistance. He writes (with some formatting help from me):
Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance. What is your resistance? Once you identify this you will find it easy to break free from the psychological bondage and breakthrough to the life you desire.
Have you ever brought home a treadmill and let it gather dust in the attic? Ever quit a diet, a course of yoga, or a meditation practice? Have you ever bailed out on a call to embark on a spiritual practice, dedicate yourself to a humanitarian calling and commit your life to the service of others?
Have you ever wanted to be a mother, a doctor, or an advocate for the weak and helpless; to run for office, crusade for the planet, campaign for world peace, or to preserve the environment?
Late at night have you experienced a vision of the person you might become, the work you could accomplish, the realized being you were meant to be? Are you a writer who doesn’t write, a painter who doesn’t paint, an entrepreneur who never starts a venture?
If you have then you know what Resistance is.
Resistance comes from the war inside you, I call it inner conflict: from lack of confidence and fear of failure.
Action beats inaction
The best way to defeat Resistance is to actually do something, if only for ten minutes a day. Tell yourself that you’ll move toward your goals for ten minutes a day. If you don’t succeed, do it again. Keep going until you do succeed.
It doesn’t matter if your actions are small. It doesn’t matter whether your actions are “right”. It doesn’t matter if you make mistakes. In fact, it doesn’t matter if you fail along the way. It doesn’t matter if there are other “better” things you might have done. All that matters is that you do something because any action that moves you in the direction of your desired outcome is “on the right track” as progress only happens when a decision is made, just remember the definition of decision is to cut off, to sever, leaving no other option or alternative. Just remember the story of troy, find your driving force, your leverage, and be resolved in your commitment. You must start moving in the direction of your dreams.
You can only afford to pay off $10 per month on your credit cards? Do it.
You can only pay 1% of your income into a high interest savings account every month? Do it.
You can only put $100 into your Roth IRA instead of the full $5000? Do it.
Do what you can, and do it today. Stop rationalizing. Stop saying, “I’ll do this next week”. The best time to start any positive course of action is now. This isn’t just New Age self-talk; it’s the truth. Start saving now. Start exercising now. Start writing your book now. Start spending time with your family now.
Your life can be amazing, the only one who’s going to make that happen is you.