“Catalyst: to spark, to ignite, energize, mobilize; something that accelerates a reaction.” (DDI)
With two months of the year behind us, I think it’s safe to suggest that, for the vast majority of us, the resolutions we made with such conviction 10 weeks ago, have faded into distant (and perhaps, slightly uncomfortable) memories. No matter how great our intentions are, the fact is that “resolving” to do something just isn’t enough. If we want to create long-lasting results, it means that we actually have to step up and take deliberate and consistent action and that’s often easier said than done.
Whether our lack of action stems from fear, apathy, a lack of accountability or something else altogether, doesn’t really matter. What really matters, if we want to make a financial change, is that we find some kind of spark that will not only set us on our way but will also keep us going when the initial enthusiasm wears off and we’re tempted to quit. Last week, I started a new training course and one of the ideas that the instructor introduced was that the instrument of change is far less important than the catalyst that triggers the start of the changing process. As usual, I started thinking about how this concept might relate to finances and what types of catalysts we could introduce in order to spark a positive change in our financial situation. Here are three that came to mind:
A New Motivator
Your motivator is what drives you to succeed. It is the incentive that inspires you to start moving and the reason that you choose to keep going when things get tough. A motivator is a very personal thing; what motivates one person to work to achieve a goal might not inspire someone else at all. Having a motivator is a critical component of effective goal setting and, I believe that not having a strong enough motivator is what causes so many people to give up on their goals. If you’ve been meaning to make a change to your finances for a while and haven’t yet been able to get up enough momentum to make that change a reality then maybe you need to ask yourself “why” you want to make that change? If the answer you get doesn’t inspire you, then you need to dig a little deeper until you can find a reason that does. Take your new motivator and let it inspire you to create change.
A New Habit
The principles of building wealth are simple, but simple doesn’t mean easy. People who are in control of their money tend to have habits and systems that help them to stay in control. If you always seem to be getting off track with your goals, then maybe creating a new habit might be the catalyst you need. I know that for me, being on top of my finances, means following the systems I’ve put in place. I’ve learned the hard way that not having a system (or not following it) is a recipe for disaster and that sticking to simple money management principles makes achieving success so much easier.
A New Belief
Often, our biggest obstacles to success are internal rather than external. The beliefs that we hold about our self, our abilities and what is acceptable for us to aspire to or attain have a huge amount of influence over the way we think about and handle our money. If we’re not careful, these beliefs can undermine our best intentions and our best efforts and lead to a cycle of self-sabotage that we’re often completely unaware of. Taking the time to examine the beliefs we hold in connection to money, wealth and rich people, and asking our self if reframing some of those beliefs might help us reach our goals, can be a very powerful catalyst for change. Ditching old beliefs that didn't serve me and adopting new ones that do has been one of the most effective things I’ve done in my own financial journey and it’s something I encourage clients to do too.
In all aspects of life, there is comfort to be found in the familiar and it’s natural to resist making a change in favour of maintaining the status quo. However, when being “comfortably uncomfortable” finally gets to be not good enough, creating a catalyst through a adopting a new motivator, a new habit or a new belief might just spark the change that you need.