Personal change is difficult, whether it involves losing weight, quitting smoking our taking control of our money. Let’s face it, we could all stand to make some tweaks here or there in our lives but so few of us get around to taking action. When it comes to money, I was recently reminded how quickly movement forward gets stopped in its tracks.
Working on my laptop in a comfy chair one afternoon at the local coffee shop/bookstore a woman sat down in the comfy chair beside me with a stack of 6 or 7 magazines and 5 books. With a satisfied look on her face, she proceeded to wade into her collection.
The magazines were of the glossy fashion, décor, design variety. What peaked my curiosity were the book titles. All 5 books were on cash management/debt repayment. Things like “The Only Budget You’ll Ever Need”, “Building Budgets that Work”, etc. What an eclectic selection of literature I thought to myself. As she started to leaf through the magazines, it was clear she was taking a “pleasure before business approach” to her afternoon reading.
Now I was really curious. How long would it take for her to get to those budget books and how much of her time would she spend going through them? I had to know and I was prepared to wait for my answers.
Through the blur of turning pages, I could see pages of text interspersed with checklists, tables, worksheets; the building blocks of a budget. In a matter of 2 or 3 minutes that book was discarded as she started the same process with the second book. More tables and worksheets. Within 5 minutes she had flipped through 3 of the books. She glanced at the back covers of the last two and moved them directly to the “done” pile. Her coffee was finished and a glance at her watch told me she was ready to move on. Here was the reading time scoreboard:
Glossy magazines: 45 minutes
Budget books: 5 minutes
A colossal loss for the budget side!
At this point I introduced myself as a Money Coach and fessed up that I had been intrigued by what I had watched. I politely inquired if I could ask her some questions. She said yes.
You seemed pretty interested in the magazines, I said, but things really hit a wall when you got to the budget books. Why so little interest in the books? I will never forget her answer “They looked difficult and kind of boring.” Boom! End of story.
That said it all, budgets speak to our heads and have little power to inspire. The resolve needed to take control of our money needs to come from deep within. When I think back on what energized the people I’ve worked with to push through to money clarity, I found it came down to 3 things:
They were ready
Prior to reaching out to me these people fought their demons, fought with each other, experimented with things that didn’t work, experienced the full range of emotions and felt the sting of setback. They had fought the good fight and despite their best intentions they had been denied victory. Now they were surrendering to the reality that they needed help.
They knew the outcome they wanted
They’re not sure what the remedy entails, but they know it can’t be any worse then what they’re experiencing now. Still, that sometimes isn’t enough.
They had a deeper “why”
Knowing the outcome they wanted wasn’t always enough. Sometimes a deeper “why” was needed to trigger change.
In early conversations with new clients, I probe for a deeper motivation, something that tells me the tables have shifted. The question I ask is: You’ve known this was a problem for some time, why have you decided to do something now?”
I find the first answer revealed isn’t always the most potent one. That’s because the real reason can be buried deep within. In fact, it may be that the person has never spoken the real reason. Perhaps it’s scary, perhaps they know things need to change (actually, the change had already begun). In any case, the deeper “why” eventually emerges.
He who has a why to live can bear almost any how. – Friedrich Nietzsche
Here’s the bottom line: knowing exactly what you want may get you started but tapping into a deeper why is what will take you across the finish line.