Personal Finance

Inspiring change: The power of the pain point

“And the time came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” Anais Nin

Over the past few weeks, I’ve explored how our success in achieving our financial goals is influenced by our subconscious beliefs and habits. Releasing beliefs and habits that no longer serve us can have a powerful impact on our level of success but often, it is easier to stick with the familiar rather than risk making a change. Before we become aware of a need for change, we are blissfully ignorant and we often fight hard to ignore any signs that might suggest we’re not managing our finances as well as we could. Sometimes awareness comes as the result of our own self-analysis; a drive to uncover beliefs or habits that might be holding us back from achieving our goals. Often though, awareness comes because life brings us face to face with a brick wall, the bottom of a hole or an unavoidable truth that we have been trying to push aside. This tends to be the most painful kind of awareness but it also tends to inspire the intense and focused action which leads to incredible and transformational results.

Hitting the pain point

Often when I sit down with clients who have achieved great financial success or who are on track to meet the financial goals they have a “bounce back” story. Somewhere in their past, for some reason (ignorance, misfortune, poor choices, etc.) they reached a pivotal moment. A point in time where it became too painful to continue on the path they were traveling and the only choice was to change direction. Hitting that pain point and making the decision to change direction was often the springboard for their success; it was rarely an easy decision or an easy journey but it was one that reaped amazing rewards.

Are you a little too comfortable?

My friend, Joanne once shared with me something she heard at a seminar: “There is no growth in a comfort zone and no comfort in a growth zone!” It’s a quote that resonated with me and I’ve found it to be especially true when it comes to inspiring financial change. Too many people find comfort in the familiarity of their situation; it may not be ideal, it may even be painful but it’s familiar. Making changes may hold the promise of great success down the road but the first steps take us out of our comfort zone and into unfamiliar territory. The discomfort caused by growing is enough to keep us in the rut we’ve become comfortable with.

So how much is too much? If your situation is not what you want it to be, it’s tempting to ignore the imperfections and the warning signs that you might be off track. If you’re having trouble managing bills, if you know that you’re really not committing as much towards saving for retirement as you should be, if you’re carrying a consumer debt load that doesn’t seem to be decreasing but you’re still managing to get by, it’s easy to just keep going. Even though all the signs are pointing to the fact that you might not be on track you keep clinging to the hope that somehow it will all work out. Eventually, though, your choices to ignore those signs will catch up with you and the journey to getting back on track will be longer and bumpier than it needed to be.

Sometimes it may look as if we’re doing everything right in terms of achieving our goals but we know deep down that we’re capable of achieving more. We may carry no debt, devote money to savings every month and be working our retirement plan to the letter but the reality is that making a couple of simple changes would allow us to set our sights higher and achieve even greater success. The trouble is that we’re comfortable in our lifestyle and we suspect that making adjustments would make us feel deprived so, instead of moving from the comfort zone into the growth zone, we reassure ourselves that we’re doing what we need to and we don’t push ourselves to achieve more.

The reality is that discomfort is a warning flag that perhaps something is not as it should be. We can choose to mask the pain or we can choose to face the discomfort head-on, figure out the root of the problem and fix it. Choosing awareness, allowing ourselves to acknowledge the discomfort, leads us to an understanding of the root of the problem which in turn allows us to take the action necessary to bring about positive change and achieve better results.

Last month I wrote about the benefits of taking a financial snapshot. It’s an easy activity to undertake when you’re on track and an easy one to avoid if you sense that perhaps the picture it paints might not be one you want to see. Taking an honest look at your situation can be a powerful tool in building financial success and in identifying the factors that are limiting your progress. This week why not shine a spotlight on your pain points? Challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone, into a growth zone and to find out what you’re really capable of achieving. Get excited about the possibilities and take a leap of faith – you may surprise yourself!


  1. My Own Advisor

    Good post.

    In my opinion, significant change comes from two drivers: carrots (incentives) or consequences (pain). Everyone has their own place and preference on that continuum. The agent of change needs to know what buttons to push and for how long, when.

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