“Dwell in possibility.” – Emily Dickinson
We live in a society that seems to be pretty unforgiving when it comes to making mistakes or getting the wrong answers. This is interesting when you consider how much we can learn using a process of elimination and how many of the great inventions evolved from multiple “failures”. When it comes to success, survival of the fittest seems to hinge on a combination of wonder and tenacity; a belief that things could be different/better coupled with the drive to persist in the face of adversity until the solution is reached. This is as true for finances as it is for every other facet of life and so in this week’s post I want to go out on a limb and suggest that, no matter how successful you are, there’s more than likely a way that you could do things even better. Here's three ways to get better at finance:
What If You Could Earn More Money?
Building wealth means either reducing expenses or increasing income. Of the two options, increasing your income offers the greatest potential reward for most people because there’s a good chance you can add more income than you can save by cutting back on expenses. Too often though, we focus on reducing expenses because it’s the easier of the two options and we find a myriad of reasons to justify not focusing on increasing income: I like my job, I’m at the top of my pay scale, it’s too hard to find a new job in this market, if I found a new job, I might not like working for the new company as much as my current employer.
Related article: The importance of earning money
Those reasons are all valid but what if you’re wrong? Do you really, really like your job? Does it challenge you? Is there potential for growth? Do you enjoy your work environment enough to justify not taking a salary increase? Have you asked for a raise? Is it really that hard to find a new job? Have you looked at what’s available? Have you applied for anything? Have you talked to your network of friends and family to see if they know of anything that might be a good fit for you? If there’s a chance you might be wrong about the existence of an opportunity to earn more, what possibilities are you ignoring or unaware of? How could any one of those possibilities improve your life if you were willing to abandon whatever belief you’re currently so sure of and explore it?
What If You Had no Debt?
Debt might be a reality of our society but that doesn’t mean it has to be your reality.
Related article: Good Debt vs Bad Debt
Too often, we justify the debt we carry with statements such as “all my friends are in debt”, “I can handle the payments so it’s ok.”, “I’ll get it all paid off when I get my next bonus/pay raise/tax refund”, “it’s not costing me that much”. What if you’re wrong? What if not all your friends are carrying debt? And even if they are, is that a good enough reason to be right there with them? Is there a chance that, without debt, your life might be better? Do you know how much debt is truly costing you? What those payments could become if they were invested in benefiting your bottom line instead of VISA’s? Is there a chance it might be more than you think? What if you could be debt-free? Is it worth finding out?
What if Other People’s Opinions Don’t Matter?
Limiting beliefs are one of the most powerful obstacles that people have to overcome on the road to financial success. We tell ourselves that we can’t do, have or become something because no-one else in our family/peer group/office has and the people closest to us affirm that belief. We make choices that keep other people happy and we tell ourselves that they know best; that it’s not worth rocking the boat.
Related article: Don't let limiting beliefs limit your finances.
What if you’re wrong though? What if you could achieve anything you chose to with the right plan and a healthy amount of tenacity and determination? Why should the fact that no-one else in your circle has achieved a particular financial goal stop you from being the first? Where’s the reward in staying where you are or giving up on your dream? The world is full of people living with the suspicion that they could have had/done/been more and I haven’t met one person yet who’s enjoying it. Simply put, life is too short to live small and your path is uniquely yours. Perhaps the reason that no-one else you know has done it is not because it can’t be done but because you’re the one who’s meant to do it? How much better might your life be if those opinions were wrong?
Anyone who knows me well will tell you that I like being right and I hate not knowing something. Finding the courage to explore unfamiliar things and to ditch the beliefs I carried that weren't serving me has been the toughest part of my journey over the past few years. Dropping the fear of being wrong, challenging my own beliefs and being willing to admit when I'm wrong have given me the biggest rewards by far, personally and financially.
Throughout my teaching career I watched kids achieve things other people told them they couldn’t purely because they refused to let those people be right. I’ve read books and studied the stories of many successful people who overcame adversity and doubt and found success that other people said was impossible to achieve.
Related article: Do you believe you can become wealthy?
Each one of them was willing to risk being proved wrong in order to achieve success and each one of them was driven by a desire to make their life better in some way. If you took an honest look at your situation is there something you would change? Is there a reason you believe it can’t be changed?When it comes to money, do you want to get better at finance?