Change Happens Gradually
Changing a mindset can be challenging. However, this is essential in order to keep going on the FI journey. To start, my mindset was not on track. I enjoyed spending money. In fact I spent money on so many things that my paycheck was gone to credit card bills before it even sat in my checking for a day. Thankfully, I knew to pay off my cards each month, but sometimes that didn’t even happen.
I wanted things. I did not need them.
I wanted to get my nails, hair and wax done. I wanted a massage, cable, Hulu, the newest trend in clothing, shoes, and accessories. I want a coffee. I want what I want when I want it. You get the picture. I was a classic consumer. The only problem was that I never stopped wanting. I was only feeding a love of things, objects and ideas that did not satisfy.
At the same time, I was constantly cleaning, rearranging, redecorating, revamping…finding space for things instead of making space for the important people and passions of life. This did not mean that I took to frugality or minimalism like a fly to honey. See my story on this under “Discovering FI for Her”. In fact I was quite resistant.
A change in mindset is gradual. I wasn’t able to let go of my things overnight or even my spending habits. I had to take it slow and one step at a time. I had to first find my WHY. Get to the root of the issues and do some serious self reflection.
Finding your Why and Writing it Down
Why – the reason or purpose- including the reason you are the way you are.
I needed to look at my dreams, my passions and what was truly important. As Robert Kiyosaki says, “Money if not the goal. Money has not value. The value comes from the dreams money helps to achieve.”
For myself, the WHY came down to my passions: my partner, our animals, travel, photography and art/creation.
Journaling was instrumental in assisting with my mindset shift. I had never really been into sitting and writing. I wanted to sit and draw, and I think it was pure avoidance. By journaling, I was going to have to make the thoughts in my head concrete words that stuck to paper. This meant it was real, tangible and something I needed to face- good or bad.
The questions below were my start to journal process in regards to finances. Consider answering the following questions for yourself to find your why.
- What does your “ideal” week look like?
- What actions make you feel happy?
- What do you want more of?
- What do you want less of?
Additionally, try to be as specific as possible. For example, if you want less stress, take a moment to consider what is causing that stress. Is it work? Family? Finances? I wanted less stress about my money, which meant I needed to get in control of it. This means things like budgeting and goal setting need to take place.
As I was able to be more specific, I realized these questions answered exactly how I was going to focus on what was important in life. Yet, they were only surface level and focused on the future. To truly shift mindset, the past must be confronted, so as to find the root of my beliefs.
Now for the really tough questions I had to face in journaling:
- How do you feel about money in one word?
- How did your parents spend money?
- What do you resent about money? What do you love about money?
- On a scale of 1-10 how much control do you have over your money?
- What did money buy you as a kid that wasn’t a thing? Example: Status, popularity, a full belly, etc.
Examining my beliefs in money led me down some dark paths. It is the only thing I have found that the more I neglected it, the more control it had over my life. I found I was not very generous because I grew up poor and I had a belief that money was worked hard for and used to care for your needs. Not to be shared. That money controlled you and what you could do-including how much “fun” you could have. I had a belief that money was not to be talked about. I had a belief that I was a financial burden as a kid and therefore I needed to pay for everything full price for myself and no one was going to know about it.
Needless to say, my relationship with my funds was a mess and a budget did not exist. By looking at my past, my experiences and beliefs for the first time I was able to shift my mindset.
This post is full of the nitty gritty of a change that needed to happen and is still something I am working on. I am grateful to say that I no longer hold those core beliefs and instead was able to grow my financial freedom and give back. I will continue on this path with my partner in our journey to FI.
Let me know if you have journaled. Was it helpful? Any great journaling prompts to share? I would love to hear! For some additional journaling tips, Lavendaire, my favorite YouTuber, has some awesome videos that helped me to get started and keep going.