Whether you love it, hate it, or are indifferent to it, money is necessary for modern life. Since there’s no way around the fact that you need it, you can at least have a good relationship with it.
Changing the way you see money – how you receive, give, save, and spend it – is a matter of making intentional changes in your thinking. You can learn to not only enjoy your money more, but to experience less stress around it. And when there’s less stress around money conversations, you’ll find that money itself is less of a burden and more of a friend.
Let’s look at some ways you can begin to make powerful shifts in your money mindset.
Your relationship with money
Maybe you’ve never considered your finances to be a relationship, but think about it. There’s give and take. There’s ebb and flow. Money comes in, it goes out, it grows and depletes, and it helps us get things we want and need.
Everyone has their own unique understanding of and relationship with money. For some, there was never enough when they were growing up and they cling tight to every penny in adulthood. For others, money seemed to cause a lot of fights between their parents, so as adults they overspend in a subconscious effort to keep money far away.
In fact, it seems like you can count yourself incredibly lucky if money has never once been scary, difficult, confusing, or lacking in your life. Even those who are financially successful now often have a difficult money story from childhood, or from lessons they learned as adults.
Your current relationship with money does not define your financial future. Wherever you are starting from, you can choose to change your journey for the better.
Money mindset shifts
1. Stop saying “There’s never enough” and start saying “I’m so grateful for what I have.”
Whatever message we choose to repeat to ourselves, our brain will eventually accept as truth. We can become wrapped up in the same old song and dance. If you find yourself caught up in “never enough,” try instead to find the good. Acknowledge and appreciate every dollar that comes your way, and know that there is always more on its way to you.
Cut off the spiral of negativity and see what shifts in your mind and emotions. Take that a step further and write out a budget. Determine how much you need in a month to pay your necessary bills. See if there’s room for something to be dropped or changed.
2. Cast a long-term vision
It’s entirely possible that some expenses you’re holding onto do not serve you and should be let go.
Set aside 10 uninterrupted minutes to envision your future self. Close your eyes and really picture your ideal life. If success was guaranteed and you could do whatever you wanted for a living, what would your life look like in 3, 5, or 10 years?
Picture in your mind:
- Where do you live?
- Who is there with you?
- What are you wearing?
- What are you eating?
- How do you feel?
Once you’ve gone through those questions thoughtfully, take a look at your budget and/or bank statements. Look at any non-essential spending like subscription services, dining out, shopping, etc. Would future You spend like this? Is your money currently moving you toward your vision or away from it? Which expenses are no longer serving you and can be dropped?
When you have a clear understanding of where you want to go, you can get there so much more easily!
3. Start viewing bills as blessings
If you have bills to pay, you have blessings in your life. Bills are not the enemy.
Open your eyes to the roof over your head, the food in your fridge, the lights and running water around you. Maybe you have a garage with a car inside. You are surrounded by miracles that protect you, sustain you, and make your life easier!
If the things you are paying for are NOT making your life easier or better, that’s when it’s time to reevaluate. You may need a car to get to work, but you don’t really need a brand new car. You need to feed your family, but you don’t really need to order out every single day or week.
Choose to pay your bills with gratitude, knowing they are serving your needs.
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Ready to start making big, impactful changes in your life and your finances? I’m a Certified Life Coach and work closely with people just like you to help them find balance in not only finances, but all key areas of their lives.
Setting goals sounds great at first. New Years Eve rolls around and it feels like a fresh start! Then suddenly it’s January 2nd and the gym shoes are nowhere to be found. Resolutions are already broken before they’ve even started.
Is this you?
When it comes to setting goals, you might find yourself in one of two common patterns:
- You’re motivated by a fresh start: New year, new month, new week, new you! But as soon as you slip on spending, or skip a day at the gym, all bets are off. Maybe next month.
- There are so many things you want to accomplish, but they feel too far away from where you are now. You aren’t even sure what the first step is, so you keep putting it off until you have time to figure it out.
Friend, I’ve got you! Whether you’re struggling to find motivation or just need help defining and clarifying your goals, this is for you.
Let’s talk about 4 steps to help you achieve your goals.
1. Challenging but attainable
When mapping out your goals, it’s important to keep this balance in mind. If the goal is too easy it won’t really stretch you or make much of a difference in the long run. If it’s too difficult, you might get discouraged and not follow through.
For example, maybe you want to read more in the coming year. If last year you averaged one book per month, a good goal for you might be to read two books per month next year. That would be a significant stretch, but not impossible. On the other hand, an unrealistic goal in this case might be to read one book per week. If you aren’t a big reader, this is not a goal you’ll enjoy or realistically be able to complete.
The point of setting goals in the first place is to take steps of growth that lead you to bigger accomplishments. Think about it like being on a boat in the middle of the water, and the shore is your ultimate ambition. In order to set foot on the shore, you have to first make moves to bring the boat closer to the dock.
2. Dream big
While we do want to keep our goals realistic and achievable, it’s also important to dream big for your life! Goals are the steps we take to get where we ultimately want to go. Make sure those steps you’re taking are leading you intentionally toward your biggest ambitions.
An awesome way to approach goal-setting is to reverse engineer the whole process. Start with the end in mind and work backward.
Block out 10 minutes of your day to sit down and really focus on this. Think critically about what you want your life to look like in 5, 10, or 20 years and practice actually picturing it. Where do you live? What does your day look like? Who is with you? What are you wearing? What are you eating?
Some of these questions might seem silly, but thinking about those details gives your powerful brain a kind of map to steer you toward (read up on growth mindset and neuroplasticity for more about this!) When you can clearly envision where you’re headed, the steps to get there will become clearer.
3. Write it out
Your brain is incredible, it’s true. But DO NOT rely on it to track every single thing you’re working toward. The act of writing your goals down, as in physically writing with pen and paper, helps connect your brain to the mission at hand. Studies have shown that written goals are much more likely to be accomplished than those that are just thoughts.
Writing out your goals by hand accomplishes a few things:
- The motion of your hand writing out words sticks with you more than typing.
- Writing helps you process and clarify your thoughts.
- You may choose to keep your written goals somewhere you’ll see them often, which only increases the likelihood that you’ll follow through.
Whether you choose to journal, make a list, create a vision board, or jot some words on a napkin, get those goals out of your head and onto paper.
4. Be SMART
You’ve likely heard of SMART goals at some point in your life, and for good reason. This is an acronym to help guide in the goal-setting process. When working through your goals, keep in mind the SMART goal pillars:
- S – Specific (Answers the Who, What, When, Where, Why details of your goal)
- M – Measurable (How much/ how many/ how will I know when it’s accomplished?)
- A – Achievable (Is this actually possible?)
- R – Relevant (Is this the right time? Does this seem worthwhile/important?)
- T – Time-bound (Has an end/ expiration date)
Example: Your family needs to get a second car so that everyone can get to work, school, and activities, and you want to pay for it in cash (Specific). You have money saved for the car, but need to find an extra $5k to pay for it in full (Measurable). That extra $5k will be a stretch, but you’re pretty sure you can make it happen if you tighten up the budget and get a little creative (Achievable). This is something that has needed to happen for a while since your oldest got their license and everyone has somewhere they need to be (Relevant). You need to have the car by the time the kids go back to school in the fall (Time-bound).
Sketching out your goals this way sets you up for success! When our goals are unclear or not detailed enough (i.e., “I want to read more” or “I want to workout”) they’re not really goals at all.
Go after your biggest goals!
As they say, anything worth doing is worth doing poorly at first. Success is never guaranteed, but approaching your goals and dreams with intention will set you up for better results and clearer progress.
Some goals are not going to fulfill you. Choose goals that you value and care about.Henry Cloud
Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame member Yogi Berra once said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you might not get there.” This bit of wisdom is true not only when it comes to geography but also when it comes to your life. That means you need goals. Most people see goals as simply a way to accomplish things, but goal-setting has other surprising benefits you may not know about. Let’s discuss some lesser-known reasons you should make goal-setting an integral part of your life then outline how to set SMART Goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely.
Why Set Goals?
You can set out to achieve anything you want, but first, you have to decide what you want to do. American civil rights leader Benjamin Mays noted, “The tragedy of life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goals to reach.” Here are some benefits to setting goals for yourself:
Setting goals helps you figure out what’s important to you. It’s easy to let bosses, teachers, parents, and even society set all our goals for us. Common goals might be: graduate from college by 22, buy a house by 25, get married by 28, retire by 65, etc. But what are your goals, and when do you want to achieve them? Setting your own goals will help you avoid reaching the end of your life and realizing you were living for and working toward someone else’s dream the whole time.
Setting goals helps you have peace of mind. Life’s demands typically only increase as we get older. At some point, most people are plagued with doubt about whether they are doing enough and whether they are good enough. Setting goals and working toward them every day will help assure you that you’re not wasting your time, and you’re doing the best you can.
Setting goals makes decision-making simpler. Imagine you’re driving a car through the city, and you have no destination in mind. At any and every traffic light, you could turn right or left. That’s an infinite number of options. Now imagine that you’re driving through the city, and you’ve decided to go to Starbuck’s. Though more than one way to get there may exist, having this destination gives you a direction and makes it very easy to decide which way to go. Each choice you make has a purpose. Whether you goal is to reach Starbuck’s or to write a novel, when you’re presented with a choice, you just have to ask yourself: “Does this get me any closer to my goal?”
Setting goals can make you happier. Pscyhology Professor Kennon M. Sheldon, Ph.D., conducted research that indicated setting goals that increase autonomy, competence, or connection with other people can increase our happiness. Happiness itself doesn’t make an effective goal; instead, it’s a by-product of healthy, effective goal-setting. The authors of the chapter “Extrinsic vs. intrinsic life goals, psychology needs and life satisfaction” published in Dimensions of Well-Being, Research, and Intervention explicates this concept wonderfully: “For many people, the primary goal in life is to be happy. Yet research indicates that happiness is most often a by-product of participating in worthwhile projects and activities that do not have as their primary focus an attainment of happiness.”
What is a SMART Goal?
Now that you’re hopefully convinced that setting your own goals—rather than having no goals are simply letting others set them for you—is significantly beneficial, let’s talk about how to set SMART goals. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely.
Specific: You have to decide exactly what you are trying to achieve. Goals like “I want to exercise more” or “I want to spend more time with my kids” are too non-specific. Try something like: “I will exercise for 30 minutes five times per week for one month” or “I will attend all of Charlie’s baseball games and pick him up from school on Fridays instead of letting him take the bus.”
Measurable: Your goals have to be measurable, or you won’t know whether or not you’ve achieved them. Exactly how much money are you trying to make? Exactly how many students do you want to mentor? Exactly how many pages of that novel are you going to write per week?
Achievable: Yes, the point of setting a goal is to stretch and challenge yourself, but you have to be reasonable, too. Don’t take on three jobs to pay off your bills faster if you know you’ll have to sacrifice your health and relationships to do it. Don’t sign up to run a half-marathon next month if you’ve never jogged of your own accord in your entire life. Starting small is not just OK but advisable. Setting goals that that are absolutely impossible to achieve will just leave you feeling more discouraged.
Relevant: Be sure that you are using your time and energy to accomplish something that matters. Research indicates that achieving goals won’t make you happy if you only set the goal to appease someone else or if achieving it results in your separation from other people. Make sure you are working toward what you really want and that other more important things won’t be sacrificed while you’re trying to achieve it.
Timely: Homework and work projects usually have a due date. We respond well to deadlines; it’s just human nature. Your personal goals should have “deadlines,” too. For example, decide not only how much weight you want to lose but exactly when you want to lose it. Decide exactly when you want to finish writing the book. It may also help to break up your large goal into smaller parts and strive to reach each bit by a certain time. That way, you’ll feel like you’re achieving multiple goals.