The first mental shift is the most critical step to get you on the path to financial freedom. You need to believe it is possible or you’ll give up too soon or never even begin because you didn’t consider it. When I was in my twenties, it never entered my mind that I could achieve financial freedom. I figured that was for the really rich people, those born with a silver spoon in their mouths or those who would inherit a family business or fortune. I never gave financial independence a thought. It wasn’t a part of my reality, given my childhood imprinting that we were poor, clever, and resourceful.
In order to get your head in the right place, you first must believe that financial freedom is a real possibility for you. Then you need to have a plan that will get you there. However, we all have limiting beliefs about money. A friend of mine can’t help but associate wealth with greed and corruption. She feels that there is something inherently wrong with most wealthy people. So naturally, she immediately spends or loses whatever wealth comes her way. She inherited enough to fund her financial freedom, but spent it all in her youth. She has come into money many times throughout her life but immediately frittered it away. Until she changes her mindset, she will never amass enough money to become financially free. Thankfully, she is very resourceful and has managed just fine.
Let’s take a few minutes right now to find out what your own limiting beliefs are. This exercise is adapted from my first book, Coach Yourself to Success.
Write down the first thing that pops into your head to complete the sentences below:
- I believe that money is …
- My greatest problem or difficulty with money right now is …
- One of the ways I handle money well is …
- Financial success means …
- If I could change one thing about my relationship with money, it would be …
- If I had all the money I could ever want, then I would be …
- The biggest change I would like to make with respect to managing my money is…
- My father taught me that money is …
- My mother taught me that money is …
What are the common beliefs about money that you agree with? (Check all that apply and add any others you often say):
- Money can’t buy you love.
- Money doesn’t grow on trees.
- It takes money to make money. “Money makes money.” – late 16th century
- “Money is power.” – mid 18th century
- “Money can’t buy happiness.” – mid 19th century Proverb
- “Money is the root of all evil.” – mid 15th century Bible 110:26
- “Money isn’t everything.” – early 20th century Proverb
- “No pain, no gain.” – late 16th century
- “What you spend, you have.” – early 14th century
“Quickly come, quickly go.” –late 16th century
- “One man’s loss is another man’s gain.” – early 16th century Proverb
- “You cannot lose what you never had.” – late 16th century
- “You don’t get something for nothing.” – late 19th century
- “You win a few, you lose a few.” – mid 20th century
- “Enough is enough.”– mid 16th century Proverb
- “All that glitters is not gold.” – early 13th century
- “Another day, another dollar.” – Late 19th century
Take a few minutes right now to write down all the beliefs, positive or negative, that you have about money, financial freedom, and wealthy people.
Think back to your childhood. What did your parents teach you about money? And not just what they said, but what did they model for you? My father was cheap, giving us second hand gifts for birthday presents. He also taught me that used stuff can actually be really high quality. Sometimes it is better to have a quality used item than it is to have a brand new, poorly constructed item. I’m thinking of the antique black Singer sewing machine I got for my 7th birthday that was indestructible. I was hankering after a shiny new plastic model for children that no doubt would have broken in no time. My mother valued honesty and wouldn’t take so much as a pencil from the office. To counter my father’s example, I am generous with gifts. But I buy as many of my own things secondhand (i.e., cars, houses, furniture). So I must have inherited some of his thrift. My mother never cared about money and instead has focused on helping others and manages to live on her Social Security income.
It is only when you start to see what you already believe about money that you can start to see what has been holding you back from achieving financial freedom. Next to every negative belief, write down a new, empowering belief. For example, you might agree, that money can’t buy you love, but it can help you afford a good relationship coach or therapist who can show you how to attract the love and relationships you want. (In fact, it doesn’t take much money to buy a copy of The Secret Laws of Attraction – hint, hint!)
Many of our current beliefs aren’t our own and come from hundreds of years ago, handed down over the generations as part of a cultural zeitgeist. It wouldn’t be a bad thing to opt for more empowering beliefs of your own! Take a moment to consider what you think about these old money beliefs. Can you challenge them? “Money doesn’t grow on trees.” Well, an avocado farmer might disagree.
Harv Eker, author of The Millionaire Mindset, says that we all have a mental money blueprint that determines how much money you will earn or make. I think of it as similar to a setpoint for weight, that you have a natural weight that your body tends to stick to. Well, humans seem to have a setpoint for money as well—an amount that we think we deserve. If you want to shoot above this setpoint, then you’ll have to look very closely at your beliefs, figuring out which ones are holding you back and replacing them with positive beliefs. You are going to believe something, so why not adopt the beliefs of the wealthy? Once you believe that financial independence is good and possible, you are on your way! For example, instead of thinking the rich are greedy, find all the instances you can of rich people who are generous, such as Bill and Melinda Gates and Jeff Bezos. If you have a lot of surplus money, you can do a lot of good in the world.