Are you where you want to be, financially-speaking? If not (and, realistically, if you’re reading this article then you probably aren’t), then it’s likely that, to some extent, you’ve been guilty of financial self-sabotage.
Who among us has not indulged in a little ‘shopping-therapy’ after a hard day (I still have a fantastic 3mm wet-suit that I bought years ago on my way home from a particularly challenging day at work).
Anyway, there are a lot of articles out there on this topic, but when I read through them, it seemed like a lot of them get into big things that you’re NOT doing (neglecting your retirement savings, for example). Whereas I tend to think about it more in terms of the little things that you ARE doing – on a regular basis, often without even thinking about them.
As I understand it, the first step in Alcoholics Anonymous’ 12 step program is admitting that you have a problem. That’s kind of the first step in initiating financial change as well. Only if you’re NOT already living the life of your dreams, and have decided that you want to change that, should you bother to read further in this article 🙂
1) Figure it out – in what ways are you practicing financial self-sabotage?
The first thing I’m going to recommend is : start taking notes. Quantify the problem. For a month or so, carry a notebook around, and start keeping track of everything you do – and then look for examples of self-sabotage, and look for patterns. Get clear about when you’re spending unconsciously, when you’re opting for immediate gratification, when you’re having to say ‘no’ to something you want to have/do because you don’t have enough money for it. Have you gotten into the habit of going to the bar with friends on Friday nights, and dropping hundreds of $$$ each month on drinks? Did you sign up for a gym membership a few years ago (and went really regularly for the first few months…) and still have the fee coming off your credit card each month? Do you stop off at Starbucks on your way to work every morning to pick up coffee and a muffin?
2) Get clear about what REALLY matters to you
Next, figure out what’s really important to you. How do you want to be living your life? Who do you want to be spending your time with? What activities do you want to be enjoying? Have you always wanted to travel, but your bank balance is never high enough to get you out of the province, much less cover an overseas vacation? Do you want to go back to school to get qualified for a more interesting (and higher-paying) career, but couldn’t possibly live on your savings (or even reduced wages) while you did so?
3) Start aligning your financial choices with your priorities
For the most part, you can have anything you want – but you probably can’t have everything you want. So, once you’ve figured out what matters, and figured out what you’re doing that doesn’t matter, but takes you further away from what does matter – come up with a plan. Create systems so that you’ll be able to get what you want – WITHOUT having to rely on things like : self-discipline, thinking before you do things, consistently making the right choices… Because, realistically, human-beings are wired for instant gratification. So come up with a plan that allows for that, while still supporting your longer-term goals.
Need some help with that? Give me a call!