I’ve written before that much of financial planning comes down to you. In my time working with people, I’m always sad when they want to talk about all of the reasons they can’t get ahead. They worry about politics, the government in general, rules and regulations, the stock market and more…
Yet there’s also something very exciting to be found at the other end of the spectrum. It’s inspiring engaging with clients who are passionate about life and everything they are “up to” in the world. These are the people who rarely have much to say about the negative external forces. Rather, they focus first on their own actions.
If you really want something, including financial security, there’s a five step process to getting it:
1) Decide. I’m not talking about hoping or wishing. You have to actually decide what’s going to be in your future. Several years ago, I worked with an artist who decided she was going to stop talking about “one day selling her paintings,” and instead, was going to actually do it. In less than 2 months, she sold her first piece.
Making the decision to change your financial status means that you’re going to do something about it. We’ve all felt the difference between hoping and deciding in our own lives. When you first decided to shoot your short film, finish your script or stage your solo show; when you decided it was time to lose weight; when you put down the cigarette and said, “That’s my last one.” You have to decide. Without this step, no magic happens.
The rule = You have to ask for it before you have a chance of receiving it.
2) Plot a course and move. Create a plan of action that will deliver your results. For my client, she decided to ask one gallery owner per day to host her art until she heard a “yes.” (By the way, once she got the yes, which took less time than she’d thought, she went after the second and third “yesses” immediately).This is a key point because when you actually create motion, your brain begins figuring out the next step. If you think of opening a new checking account with lower fees nothing happens. The thought is fleeting and in a few minutes, or maybe an hour, it’s gone. However, if you drive to a bank or even open a browser and begin looking up bank rates online, you’ll find yourself following through.
The rule = Action creates follow up, which creates results.
3) Create systems to simplify your life. You should be able to focus all of your energy on the important points in life, not on the details. Rather than allowing money to be a constant distraction, find automatic ways to stay on top of your finances. We tip everyone around us…why don’t we create ways to pay ourselves first? If we’re going to give the waiter 15%, how come we can’t do that for our bank account? Use direct deposit, apps, and systems that make managing your money easy so you can focus on super sizing your results.
Too often we’re wrapped up in minutia. About an hour ago I spent forty-five minutes searching for a piece of paper I’d misfiled. We don’t “get organized” so things look pretty. We “get organized” so that we can reclaim that 45 minutes to spend on highlights, instead of in the trenches digging for items that aren’t worth the time we spent searching for them.
The rule = You don’t have time to think about both small and big things. Focus on the big things and create systems for the small.
4) Embrace education. We are what we think about, which is a powerful message. If you’re committed to strengthening your craft, you’ll engage in the reading and classes that will allow you to improve. Rather than worrying about personal finance, commit to learning how to better manage your money. Read magazines or blogs like this one, listen to podcasts, enroll in classes, join online communities. By wrapping yourself in financial success talk, you’ll find yourself enjoying the topic more and becoming increasingly comfortable and familiar with some of the issues people struggle with – like banking, insurance and investments. You’ll also meet and be inspired by others who are on the same journey.
The rule = Create “surround sound” reflecting the life you wish to lead and you’ll soon find yourself leading it.
5) Reflect. If you realize from the outset that you won’t be perfect, you’ll be more open to correcting your course without completely throwing in the towel. A critical mistake you can make with personal finance is to decide midstream that you can’t learn…that it’s all too hard…that you should just give up. If you surrounded yourself with the right people and materials, and decided to move…now all that you have to do is to follow through and trust yourself. Too many people lose their dreams because they didn’t have the faith in their own abilities to realize that success was right around the corner. Have the strength to reflect and make adjustments, but never, ever second guess yourself.
The rule = You won’t make the perfect move the first time. Perfection comes with practice and experience.
Everything starts with a dream, but you can’t stop there. Success comes down to you making a decision, following through, surrounding yourself with support and inspiration, and then correcting your course. You can do it…if you just decide!