It’s counter-intuitive, but in order to achieve the kind of wealth that brings long-lasting fulfillment, abundance, and happiness to one’s life, we often need to get out of our own way.
We need to let certain beliefs go, not do more based on the ones we’ve got.
I’ve written a lot about the natural laws of finance, which can be confusing. The natural laws of finance can’t dictate your personal values. Everyone has a choice as to what they care about. However, the natural laws do affect your long-term probabilities of success.
If you’re interested in building an unshakable financial foundation to weather life’s ups and downs, here are seven common ways we sabotage our own foundation for wealth.
1. Let Go of Money as Your Goal
Happy, financially successful people achieve their wealth by going after something other than money. Call it purpose, mission, or passion — it does not matter.
They simply believe they have something to contribute, and they use their money as a powerful supporter of that larger goal.
“When I was 25, my net worth was $100 million or so. I decided then that I wasn’t going to let it ruin my life. There’s no way you could ever spend it all, and I don’t view wealth as something that validates my intelligence.” — Steve Jobs
If you already know what you like doing but are busy ignoring it, figure out how you can change that, even if it’s a 10-year plan. All good plans are 10+ year anyway. Your plan will probably get derailed, but that’s not the point. It’s good to map out a path.
It hurts when you’re not doing what you’re supposed to do in life. The pain is meant to make you look closer at what’s going on.
2. Let Go of What Other People Think
As kids, we’re often forced to care about what our mom and dad think. After we’re pretty good at that, we’re asked to listen to our relatives, our friends, and people we don’t even know. Soon, we don’t even allow ourselves to think about turning ‘left’ if everyone is saying ‘right’.
People will always have opinions about you, especially about what you should do with your financial life.
• If you want to be rich, you must become a doctor.
• If you want to be rich, you must go to college.
• If you want to be rich, you must learn to code.
• If you want to be rich, you must get into real estate.
• If you want to be rich, you must save all of your money and keep it for yourself. Never let anyone else have it.
These people often have your best interests at heart. However, in order to build a financial life you would be proud of, you have to limit how much other people’s beliefs get in the way of you building your wealth as you see fit.
Create the kind of financial life that allows you to feel free and happy. Whether it includes a big house or a small house, or no house at all, it doesn’t matter if it’s not your financial life.
“The eyes of others our prisons; their thoughts our cages.” ― Virginia Woolf
3. Let Go of Your Story
The story you tell yourself about the whys of your current financial state sets your financial limits. I would recommend that you let them go. Let all the excuses go. When you can do that, you create new financial possibilities.
It’s never too late to start fresh. It’s never too hard to learn something new. It’s never impossible to change. It can start now.
“Don’t make excuses — make good.” — Elbert Hubbard
Financially successful people take initiative, not just in the area of money, but in all areas of their lives.
As long as you have a story, you’re refusing to take ownership of your life. Owning your life takes continued exercise, and the benefits build slowly in the beginning, like compound interest.
4. Let Go of Your Expectations
We’re taught that setting high expectations is a winning strategy. But if you want to build wealth, this doesn’t work. Setting realistic expectations that you can get into the habit of exceeding on a daily basis is the most effective way of managing your financial life.
Your financial path won’t be easy. It’ll take longer than you estimate. You’ll go through ups and downs. If you’re impatient, you’ll give up before you should.
Let go of your belief of how it will happen. It’ll never be like that.
What we view as failures are often times potential successes that were cut short. You can’t control the when, how, and what of your results, but you can control your expectations.
“Lower your expectations of Earth. This isn’t heaven, so don’t expect it to be.” — Max Lucado
Be realistic, it will actually help. The best things are built over time, brick by brick, and sometimes you need do-overs. Start with one step and keep going.
5. Let Go of Your Comfort Zone
Getting out of your comfort zone has to become a habit. Why? Because you’ve got to become the change you want to see in your financial life. This requires action.
Do one new thing a day. It doesn’t matter if you start small, or go slow. It’s your decision. But do one new thing.
• Look up a financial word you don’t understand
• Check your monthly credit card statement before the due date
• Tip your server well to practice financial gratitude
Studying your financial problems or reading about them won’t be sufficient for lasting change. For a little while, doing these things may make you feel better, like you’re more in control, but it’s not true until you act, and act consistently. There is no substitute.
It’s important to get as comfortable as possible with being uncomfortable. The new habits you develop as a result will take you in a very different direction than where you’ve been headed.
“They say that life is tough enough. But I guess I like to make things difficult on myself, because I do that all the time. Every day and on purpose. That’s because I believe in disrupting my comfort zone.” — Brian Grazer
6. Let Go of Your Stuff
We all have different ideas of what it means to be comfortable. The problems happen when we become attached to things as though they reflect our self-worth or value to others.
When we buy a lot of stuff to make ourselves feel good, what begins as a simple expense starts to carry maintenance and disposal costs. You spend your focus on managing your things rather than on more productive activities.
It’s nice to have things, but you need far less than what you believe. The most financially successful and secure people know this in their core. They don’t make their financial decisions out of neediness or the feeling of scarcity.
When you can let go of your stuff, you free up your mind.
“The things you used to own, now they own you.” — Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club
There’s a difference between believing that you’re rich because you have so much stuff, and being rich because you have the freedom and capability to do whatever you want.
Let go of your attachment to stuff.
7. Let Go of Your Money
Your money is like food for your body. There is a certain amount you need to be healthy and feel secure. Calculate how much that is (hint: it usually amounts to about 6 months’ worth of living expenses), and gather that money in a separate account.
The rest, however, is most productive when invested in furthering your purpose and supporting your bigger life values. It’s meant to be circulated through your life. If you keep it out of fear, you unconsciously block your longer-term financial well-being. Money is meant to be invested, charitably given, and spent toward companies and people who provide you a valuable service.
“There are people who have money and people who are rich.” — Coco Chanel
Not paying, tipping, or giving is a form of refusing to be responsible for something you value. Whatever it is, it will die without money, hurting you in the long run.
Let your money go toward what you value.