First off, sorry again for taking a few weeks off from blogging. I have been kept from typing and doing much of anything due to have severe pain up and down my arm (from fingers to elbow) probably from typing too much for a book that I am writing. It is not carpel tunnel rather something else that my doctor could not specifically identify. He believes that it is caused by how my arms were resting when typing that somehow pinched a nerve or muscle, so we will see how it goes as I start typing again.
Anyways, a while ago I received a series of comments from a reader questioning the impact of what I write about. I want to take this opportunity to explain why I write the way that I do. In particular, there are probably many people taking a quick glance at what I write about (financial behaviors) wondering how it can help people who is living paycheck to paycheck with little hope of getting ahead. This appears to be where the commenter was coming from when he wrote
Which reminds me, what good is “financial awareness” if you have no money?
It is hard to explain my whole point of view in a short blog which is why I am excited to being closer to submitting my first book to a publisher. My first draft is currently with an editor who has been helping me organize my ideas better. Yet, in a nutshell, my philosophy is based on when we are caught in a struggle (living day-to-day) it may not money that is holding us back rather our thoughts and beliefs about money. For example, I have offered my services free of charge to many people who have been struggling with money and for the most part have not been taken up on the offer. The key is that when we are in the struggle, we lose sight of opportunities and believe that there is no way out (or a single solution that we try over and over again with no substantial results) thus do not take opportunities when they present themselves. Thus, it should not surprise me that my offers have been ignored because people grown to believe that there is no hope. For example, one of the comments that I have seen over and over again, is similar to
I apparently have no marketable skills, no career-related experience, and no money to go back to school to acquire a marketable skill.
We have a tendency to get caught in the belief that college education as being the end all-be all way to get ahead. I am a strong proponent of education. However, there are other ways to get ahead if one path is blocked. For example, I have a friend who went into the military after high school. After his military service, he worked his way up to being a manager for a large grocery store. However, he end up being fired from that job along with a few others and each time settling for lower and lower managerial positions at smaller and smaller stores. And, even these positions dried up for him. He ended up starting a website design business by teaching himself about the web design industry and programs. As some people know, web design is a highly competitive field to crack into because many people are trying to do the same things. Along the way, he and his wife barely made ends especially with two daughters in college. Yet, he was not discouraged. His ability to learn web design ultimately lead him to being hired at a computer software company where he has worked his way up the ranks and has developed skills sets that are highly sought after, making him very valuable to the company. The key is where there is a will there is a way if we open ourselves to opportunities instead of limitations. Thus, sometimes it is not about the money rather our behaviors (for example, our “lack”/”poor me” thinking) that needs to be addressed to get ourselves out of our financial struggle.
I believe that one of the biggest hurdles we face that influences our behaviors is our belief that “doing what we love” needs to come in a specific form. Thus, we get discouraged when we do not see things go exactly as we would like things to be. In asking people what they would do if money and time was no object, I have head millions of ideas such as “opening up a center to help (fill in blank) ”, living on a beach front house or “starting my own business”. What we normally focus on is the form of what we want believing that it will bring us happiness. We then push ourselves to acquire or accomplish these tasks while we minimalize what we are doing now and may never find lasting happiness in our drive for success.
Instead, I ask people to focus on what they want to give or what they want to accomplish (in generality – not specific outcomes). When we focus on what is important the ultimate goal (not specific actions), we leave it up to the universe to provide us the form to do it in. For myself, I enjoy being a teacher and helping people. Yet, for years, I was caught in a consulting job where we helped large companies instead of individual people. I could have been miserable in this position because it was not the form of what I wanted because our focus was on helping corporations instead of where I wanted to focus on in helping people. However, I focused on helping people whether it was in volunteer activities that I did on weekends or it was being a mentor to younger employees at work all while helping corporations in my job. Thus, when I hear people say:
What if what you love requires money up front which you don’t have and cannot get?
I suggest looking at doing what we love to do where we are at. We may not be able to do it 100% in the job we currently have and see what behaviors and thoughts we have that get in the way. We can work in things that we love into our lives and our interactions with people without making major changes in our life. What about if we want to sing and we are caught being a janitor? The key is to understand singing is the form of what we want and focusing on the form (singing) as the source of our happiness will make us miserable. They key is what we get by singing? Do we get to be creative or do we get to bring joy to people through our voice? If it is joy, we can do this no matter what job we have. I have a mailman who always greets me with a smile every time that I see him. I do not know him all that well, yet that one minute interaction with him brightens my day. Thus if giving joy is his mission in life, he does it where he is at. And, being a janitor does not mean that a person can not sing while working or do karaoke after work or perform on weekends. If we see our ability to do what we love controlled by outside influences, we need to shift and to look at our behavior instead of how much money we may have. Just look at the recent winner of Britain’s Got Talent. A mobile phone salesman (Paul Potts) just received a two million dollar recording deal because he did not let his work situation get in the way of his passion for opera. He did not have to quit his job to get noticed, rather do what he loved where he was at. In reality, being a salesman probably helped him win the competition (type of rags to riches story).
Thus, next time you think that money is keeping you down; I encourage you to become aware of your behavior to see what may be holding you back. All I can say is that anytime someone has worked with me and stayed with becoming more aware of their thoughts and behaviors, they have seen the results. Others however have become discouraged and gave up when I have not given them a top 10 quick fix on how to become a millionaire that is one size fits all. They did not realize that how we think, act and behave has more impact on their finances than knowing just the tools. This is why many people on diets fail when they just focus on the diet and do not become more aware at what is causing them to eat (their behaviors).
If you need help to help identify what is holding you back, drop me an e-mail (pete at myfinancialawareness dot com) and we can chat. I have not let money get in the way of living my passion for helping people. My coaching services have been based on accepting only donations/gifts (and sometimes times nothing at all) solely based on my clients’ choice and/or ability to give back.