I mean, it's almost human nature, isn't it? Your migraine was so strong that you didn't really notice the sore throat coming on until it finally goes away and suddenly the sore throat is all you can think about? It seems that the cycle of poverty includes the nasty habit of focusing largely on the loudest voice in the room. We scrape together the money for the car repair while ignoring or losing track of the light bill because, well... something more pressing got in line ahead of it! Now the rent is late because of the money being used for the car repair, and it's incurred a late fee which to no surprise, we don't have the money for... We're constantly running back and forth from fire to fire, focusing almost exclusively on that which screams for our attention the very loudest. Sometimes, it feels like we're doomed to repeat the process until we somehow, as if by magic, manage to hear those seemingly smaller voices and answer their call. Sometimes the loudest voice in the room is the one that requires the most immediate attention, but what about those slightly softer voices? Are their requests of us any less important? How do we simultaneously honor them while addressing the thing that is screaming in our face?
There's this lovely meditation I like to do; I've discovered variations of its theme in multiple places. It involves a heavy amount of visualization and scanning of one's body from head to toe. The scanning takes place only in the imagination and ranges from blasting each body part energetically with positive intentions and love to checking in with the feeling of balance in the various chakras or areas of the body. As I perform this meditation, it occurs to me that in these moments, I am holding a microphone up to those quieter voices within me so as to truly observe their needs. Only then can I even begin to make an effort to honor their request and make right any perceived wrong.
Financially successful individuals, whether they realize it or not, become attuned to a bit of a scanning activity of their own. They systematically scan their financial worlds; checking in with the varying parts to ensure things haven't slipped out of balance. Now, what does this scanning look like in a practical sense? The loudest voice in our financial room is often our screaming debt, the mortgage or rent payment, the occasional emergency car repair, or accidental late fee... But what does it look like to scan the rest of the financial room, to ensure we've given proper attention to items around the periphery? Perhaps this is checking up on insurance coverage when open enrollment comes around, making sure that you're still utilizing the best option for yourself and your family. This could mean checking up on your retirement accounts when the quarterly statement comes out: Are they doing well? Do you need to increase contributions? Move things around? How about checking your monthly credit card statements? This can be a five-minute activity; just scan them to be sure all of the charges are legitimately yours. While I don't do a ton with my monthly budget, scanning for me looks like checking in on the lifestyle section of my 50/30/20 Budget to make sure that my spending is intact. It might mean checking up on my goals category to see if my debt elimination or savings is also on track. Is there anything that could speed up my timelines?
There are plenty of other things for you to scan in your financial life, and no doubt you can come up with a list! But the critical skill to develop here is that of training yourself to scan on a regular basis and notice things out of balance or out of place. It is also to develop a sense for identifying a need to be filled and being malleable enough to begin working toward meeting it.