With tax time nearly upon us and my (second!) keynote to the great folks at Wells Fargo right around the corner, it's no wonder I've got money on the mind. And I'm wondering if any of these money cliches below ring a bell for you: "Money doesn't grow on trees."
"The only way to get ahead is to work harder than everyone else."
"You've got champagne tastes and a beer budget."
Maybe you grew up with a dad who liked to remind you that he "wasn't a Rockefeller." Or a mom who was constantly struggling to "stretch a dollar." Regardless of the message, awarenessof your particular money mindset – that is, the system of conscious and unconscious beliefs you have about wealth – is often the first step toward creating a healthy money mindset and a life of abundance.
I'll give you an example. Sara, an extremely talented young photographer I worked with, seemed to embody that principle. She had observed that whenever she got close to a financial breakthrough, her business took a downturn. She lost a key account, a client failed to pay for services, or the marketplace inexplicably faltered. Sara was stuck at what I call a "success set point."
Whenever she approached $60,000 in income for the year, her business would suffer a setback. The pattern was so consistent that it clearly was not a coincidence - and it was clearly holding her back from building a thriving freelance business. As we delved deeper into Sara's money mindset and family messages – spoken and unspoken – the basis of the pattern finally dawned on her.
Her father had been a salesman, with bad financial years far outnumbering the good years. Sara's mother kept up a façade of cheerfulness, focusing on the great times they'd have when "Dad's ship comes in." The problem was, his ship never came in, and Sara unconsciously decided not to surpass her father's income. The sum for his record-setting season? You guessed it, $60,000.
Sara had constructed a money mindset that kept her stuck so she wouldn't out-earn her father. After she understood the foundation of her financial belief system, she began to change it.
Awareness of your money mindset is only the first step in building wealth health. The next step is to combine your new-found awareness with an expanded vision of what success means to you. Why not take a moment right now to tap in to your money mindset to transform those worn-out old messages from limiting to liberating?
Identify your family's money mantra.
What were the messages, particularly the negative ones, that you internalized from childhood? Consider how these limiting messages influenced your actions over the years. Are you overly cautious? Do you believe all wealthy people are greedy? Do you feel entitled to spend whatever you want - even if you don't have the money - because you expect a big score one day?
Challenge the message.
Ask yourself if you're repeating the money messages you heard in childhood. Then determine if your inner money monologue is accurate in terms of the actions you take. Are you a spendthrift? Are you a miser? What's the reality? Decide for yourself if those inner messages are helpful in keeping you moving toward what you truly want or keeping you stuck in negative or self-sabotaging patterns.
Change your money mantra.
Create a positive money counter-message such as, "The more wealth I have, the more I have to share." Or, "I work hard for my money and I deserve to treat my family and myself to a nice vacation once a year if I can afford it." Repeat your new money mantra aloud several times throughout the day. Every day.
Once Sara realized that she was the one - not her parents - who created her limiting money mindset, she decided to change it. She envisioned an aggressive new financial path for herself where it didn't matter if she out-earned her father. In fact, she fully expected that she would and she set some specific financial targets to keep her moving toward her new goal.
It wasn't long before she began charging her customers what she was worth and asking for referrals - and her business started taking off. When she was able to foot the bill for an anniversary party for her parents, she discovered how good it felt it make money for the things that she wanted for herself as well as for those she loved.
And isn't that what wealth is all about?