Money is one of the most loaded, loved, and loathed topics known to man. Yet even though we use money every single day of our lives, we rarely stop to consider how we feel about it, speak about it, or what we truly believe.
If you aren’t exactly rolling in dough but would like to be, understanding your own money mindset is a critical step to achieving wealth.
For example, we’re generally raised to believe all sorts of sober thoughts when it comes to wealth, such as money is the root of all evil. Or that in order to make money you have to work really hard doing stuff you really hate. Or that if you focus on making money, you’re a sell-out or morally compromised or a pig-headed greed monger. Even though most of us love, love, love it when we’re flush with cash, and we fantasize about what we’d do with more of it, we’d feel gross saying “I love money” out loud.
If you believe, consciously or not, that you are morally compromised for pursuing wealth, or that you’ll be shunned by those you love for attempting to get rich — or that you don’t deserve financial success — you won’t be inspired to take the actions necessary to kick some serious financial ass.
And that's the point: While personal financial advice is usually all about the concrete steps you need to take with your wallet, portfolio, careers to build the type of wealth you need for the life you want to lead, you can't focus on those proper steps unless and until you're in the right frame of mind.
Don’t just come to grips with your money mindset, though. Learn how to hone it:
1) Focus on the “why” — not the “why not”
Nobody gets to the top of the mountain without falling on his or her face along the way. The trick to getting back up and staying the course is to place your focus on why you want to get to the top of the mountain in the first place, instead of focusing on all the reasons you fell, how hard it is to get back up, or why it’s better or safer to remain horizontal.
We live in a fearful society that has perfected the art of doubting, weaned us on worry, and trained us to focus on everything that can or has gone wrong. So re-training your brain to focus on the awesome, rather than the ain’t no way, takes conscious effort.
Get specific on why you desire more money – what exactly will you spend it on? How much do all these things and experiences cost? How will it make you feel when you’ve got the money you need and you’re staring your new, awesome reality in the face? Stay focused on your “why” so that when the going gets squirrely (which it most definitely will), you have the energy, enthusiasm and emotional chutzpah to propel yourself past the roadblocks and achieve financial success.
2) See fear as your friend, not your foe
In order to trade in your current financial reality for one with more dollars in it, you’re going to have to leap into the unknown — over and over again.
This is because you’ve gotten to where you’re at right now by doing what you’re doing and by being who you are. And if you want to change your life, you’re going to have to do things differently.
The problem is that few things scare the crap out of human beings more than the unknown (with the possible exception of death). But because leaping into the unknown is required for growth, you must view fear as the best compass ever. If you want to get rich, let your fear lead the way.
If you're getting scared, use that as a clue that you're on the right path. Transforming your financial reality = taking great leaps and risks into the unknown = terrifying = you’re headed in the right direction if you’re scared.
3) Be grateful for your debt. And everything else
Gratitude is one of the strongest and most transformative states of being. It shifts your perspective from lack to abundance and allows you to focus on the good in your life, which in turn pulls more goodness into your reality.
For example, instead of freaking out about your debt, adopt an attitude of: I’m grateful for my twenty thousand dollars of credit card debt. I am grateful that money was there when I needed it once. By shifting the negative to the positive, you can forgive yourself, speak openly about the debt, free yourself of shame, and open yourself up to appreciate opportunities you may not have seen before because you were so busy focusing on what you don’t have.
Remember: What you appreciate appreciates.
4) Take a stand for the "And"
So often when we get into freak-out mode about not having enough money, we focus our energy on paring down, shrinking back, denying ourselves, always saving, never spending. To this I say: Ho hum.
Imagine if you put all the time and energy you’ve spent figuring out how to cut back and save into figuring out how you can make more money? Instead of assuming it’s an either/or situation – I can either buy a latte every morning or I can pay off my student loans — why not focus on increasing your income and go for both?
Take a stand for the "And" – pay off your debt and go on vacation. Save for your kid’s college and go out for fancy dinners. Donate to your favorite causes and drink champagne. You are a mighty moneymaking machine who can create whatever reality you set your mind to.
If your entire relationship with money is devoid of fun, money becomes something you fear and loathe rather than something to celebrate and enjoy.
Obviously, this is not a free pass to live beyond your means. Figure out how much you need to afford the things and experiences that are important to you and set about with no-nonsense determination to make this money instead of cutting back.
Strategize about seeking that raise you deserve. Search for a better, more satisfying, and higher paying job. Turn a hobby into a money maker. Provide a service that you see lacking in the marketplace. Where there’s a will there’s a way.
5) Decide to — rather than want to — get rich
When we hunker down to make big changes in our lives, we often think we’ve made a no-nonsense decision to create lives we love. But have we really made a decision at all? Yes, we will probably keep chugging along — until it gets too hard or too expensive to do what we must, or if we're at too much risk of looking foolish.
If you desire to get rich, the number one most important thing you can do is decide for reals to get rich.
This decision outweighs all excuses, fears, and distractions. Which means that when it comes time to take that terrifying leap — for instance, to take out the loan to rent that space for your new business; to double the rates you're charging which might risk the disapproval of some of your clients; to ask your boss for a raise – you must commit to plowing ahead instead of backing down and pretending you can’t have what you want.
Decide and don’t stop until you get there.
6) Play to win instead of playing not to lose
You, like hopefully all other living creatures on Earth, are here to thrive, not just to survive. So design your life from a place of anything is possible, not from a place of covering your butt.
Aim to make the kind of money that allows you to live the life you love, complete with all the things and experiences that make you leap out of bed in the morning to the sound of victory trumpets. Envision your life beyond your present circumstances and create whatever you desire instead of getting caught up in the day to day of where you’ve gotten so far.
Get clear on exactly what you desire, how much it costs and put a plan in place.
You don’t have to know all the details of how you will pull it off. But you do need to stretch yourself. Seek answers. Take risks. Be diligent about your attitude and your thoughts. Put yourself out there. And take whatever baby steps or big leaps you need to take in the direction of your dreams.
Learn as you go, but go. And when you go, go big.
7) You're in a relationship with money — so nurture it
We use money every single day of our lives, yet we rarely take the time to acknowledge it, appreciate it, pay attention to it, or notice its comings and goings in our lives. Imagine if we treated all our relationships like this!
Like any other relationship, the more attention, love, and appreciation we give to money, the more it wants to hang out with us and the more we allow ourselves to hang out with it.
Take a moment to feel excited and grateful when you receive money, be aware of the fact that you deserve it, that you’re capable of making it, that it’s there for you. Notice any weirdness you may have about receiving it, if you apologize or shrink back from accepting it and shift into a state of grace around receiving it.
Be grateful and excited when you give it to someone else, even if you’re just buying a cup of coffee or paying your bills. Take notice of how money is enhancing your life, what it buys you, how good it feels to share it, all the awesome possibilities it represents. Giving and receiving money is an exchange of energy and appreciation. Get in the flow.
8) Create your own reality; don't just be a victim of it
You have the power — through your thoughts, beliefs, and actions — to create your reality.
Whatever environment or circumstance you currently find yourself in is not your reality, but rather your temporary situation. Your reality is whatever you decide it is. If you’ve got five kids, a job working seventy hours a week for minimum wage, a large mountain of debt, and a car window made out of cardboard and duct tape, you can choose to focus on what you hate about your situation and believe you’re trapped by it. Or you can focus on what’s good about it and use that lifted energy to set about transforming it.
Visualize the specifics of a new reality that excites you. Train all your thoughts, words, and beliefs on the fact that this new reality is available to you and take radical action to make it manifest. Constantly be on the lookout for new opportunities and people who can help you, alert everyone who stands still long enough that you’re looking for a more lucrative job, educate yourself, love yourself, surround yourself with people who are kicking ass and leap largely into the unknown.
Excuses are simply challenges that you’ve given your power over to. Take the power back and create the life you’d love to live.
9) Switch from “I know” to “I’m excited to learn more”
We humans tend to be rather impressed by how much we know. Meanwhile, one of the most profound ways to transform your life is to act like you know very little.
The phrase “I know” can be hugely limiting because it basically slams the door shut on garnering deeper understanding and from taking radical action. As in: I know I need to change my thoughts if I want to go from broke to rich, I know getting help would be wise if I’m not succeeding on my own, I know I need to be nice to money – next!
By staying open to new experiences and curiosity instead of being a know-it-all, you allow yourself to go from knowing something in your head to understanding it and living it.
We often need to hear things many times in many different ways before we “get it,” and once we get it, we can begin to become it. Keep an open mind, stay curious, keep learning, and you will start raking in those aha moments, as well as the dough.
10) Lighten up! Making money should be fun, not a slog
More likely than not, you will spend a large portion of your life working in order to make money. Which means if you have a good attitude towards work and money, you will live a mostly enjoyable life. But if you have a bad attitude, you’ll spend a large portion of your time on Earth being grouchy.
A simple shift in your perspective can make a massive difference in your quality of life. If you don’t like your job, instead of complaining, be grateful that it provides you with an income while you figure out how to do something you enjoy.
Decide that making more money is a fun challenge instead of a crushing necessity. Just see what you can get away with. See if you can sell your paintings for thousands of dollars. See if you can get a big fat raise and promotion at work. See if you can increase the sales in your business by one hundred thousand dollars this year.
You get one shot at being the you that is you on planet Earth, and you get to choose how you experience it. Why not choose to enjoy it?
Jen Sincero is a success coach, motivational speaker, and author of the new book, You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth.