Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Staring At Your Shadow

As I write this February is fast approaching, and as it approaches, I often find myself thinking about the groundhog and whether or not he will be bringing us good news.  This year seems different in that I have a new realization.  I am the groundhog...and so are you.  

No one stops to ask themselves what the groundhog was doing down there all that time?  Perhaps it was all naptime and Netflix, I'm no one to judge.  But perhaps it was something different.  Perhaps it was a year of turning inward and devouring that which will lead him one step closer to enlightenment which he now knows as truly knowing himself, what he truly desires, and that which will serve to make him better.  I must admit, the latter is what happened to me, and I emerge, not exactly a different person, but different... more of who I truly am... more aligned with my purpose.  I can't help but wonder if he, too did something similar during all that time.  Now, you see?  What's even more interesting is the reemergence, for he knows it's time to come out, but really has no idea what's waiting for him out there.  So, he tiptoes his way out, reluctantly, to rejoin a world he isn't certain is ready for him.  Then next comes the moment we all wait for:  What will he do?  Will he stay and explore, looking to see if there's something out there for him?  Will he retreat back to the very place from which he came, taking comfort in familiarity and certainty?  We may stand around watching, begging him to make the choice that serves us best because of course we're always looking out for our own best interests.  But ultimately, whichever choice he makes, he must make it strictly for himself, not for us.

Recent universal circumstances have forced us underground, into hiding, into a place of isolation from which we are just emerging.  As we, too tiptoe back into the world, different than we were before, we look upon our life choices perhaps with the same eyes, but through new lenses.    We too have to make some choices about where we want to be, and how we want to exist in the world.  Sometimes parts of our life don't quite fit the same way they once did.  It may be your job, your home, the city in which you live.  You might be considering changes in many parts of your life.  Just recognize as you step into your truth, you may find yourself staring at your own shadow, and it might be scary.  You might feel ill-prepared for some big move in life that you feel called to make.  If it's the truth of who you are, if it aligns to your calling, you'll likely feel called to answer. Don't allow fear of your shadow to scare you away from your purpose and back into hiding.  You have the opportunity in this moment to step back into the world as you truly are and live a life that is beyond your wildest dreams. 

Sometimes there are practical considerations that scare us away from following our bliss.  We spend our lives running scared.  That's a phrase I learned from my mother, and it took a very long time for me to fully understand it.  Running scared is when you move through life allowing fear to fuel the speed and direction in which you run.  Very little good comes from running scared.  We must remember that fear is an intense emotion with the power to use our negatively inspired actions to manifest things in the direction of that which we don't want.  For that reason, fear cannot be our primary motivator.   Just think about it.  When you're living paycheck to paycheck, you're running scared.  When you have zero dollars saved, and any emergency will quite literally wipe you out, you're running scared.  When your monthly obligations eat up every last dime, you're running scared.  It's incredibly difficult to follow our bliss, align to our calling, and live the life of our dreams when we're running scared. We must take the necessary steps to create for ourselves an environment in which fear has very little place. How do we do that?

There is so much super-sophisticated financial education out there, and honestly I'm really into it.  But the truth of the matter is that the simplest of things are the ones that make me feel secure, like I can stare my shadow directly in the face and not go running scared.  The first of these items is a large, liquid, savings account.  We each have the right to define "large" for ourselves.  But what I will suggest is this:  You become significantly more powerful and able to stand in the truth of who you are when you know beyond the shadow of a doubt that no job loss or other series of mishaps and emergencies are able to take you out.  "Bring it on scary shadow!  Do you're best!  I can take you on!"  It maybe a little funny, but the truth is that there's no better shield than a nice pile of cash.  Another simple consideration that makes me feel incredibly empowered is my budget.  I keep it super simple, but I also keep my expenses minimal.  If push comes to shove, I've already either trimmed the fat or know exactly where to make cuts.  Too many bills will not keep me from living my dreams.  Finally, eliminate fear of the future by stacking the deck in your favor.  If you currently have a very secure job with a decent 401k or other retirement account, take the opportunity to load it up now and let the power of compounding help secure your future position.  By focusing on doing what you can in the now, you can minimize or eliminate the need for fear in the future and also open yourself up to a myriad of opportunities that may present themselves without that being as heavy of a concern.

I think many of you out there, particularly my readers have emerged from the past year or two different from what you were before.  You owe it to yourselves to realize the whole of who you are even if that means change.  Your money should be a part of the solution, a part of which propels you toward the life you long for, not an obstacle preventing it.  So, that begs the question: How are you going to use your money to support the life you long to live?

Join the Newsletter

Subscribe to get our latest content by email.
    We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at any time.

    Monday, January 17, 2022

    Flow State, Resistance, and Accepting What Is

    Sometimes words circle in my mind.  They might be my own, or occasionally someone else's, but they always seem to come at precisely the right time.  It's funny how universal wisdom can be whispered in your ear if only you're open enough to listen.

    One such piece of wisdom came into my experience years ago, when my aunt, Valerie, said that "your pain is caused by your resistance to what is."  It was difficult for me to understand the time, but something compelled me to write it down.  It's only now that I realize just how much that applies to everything: our interpersonal relationships, our health, conflicts at work, and yes, even our path to abundance.  I'm not trying to suggest that simply dropping resistance is the magic pill that solves all that ails us.  But I am suggesting that the very act of dropping resistance and surrendering to what is is precisely what gets us into the very flow necessary to attract the solution, which I might add could very well be entirely different from what we expect.  

    Flow state is the place where we manifest our desires.  So, how do we get into it?  The first step is recognition and acceptance of what isWhat is is the current state of things.  In Eckhart Tolle terms, it is the Now.  Resisting the Now will only cause us pain, so we might as well simply accept it for what it is.  Accept it without judgment.  This is not to say that we can't desire it to be different, for this how we create movement in our lives.  Remaining stagnant in life is also a form of pain that comes from resisting our desire for something new, therefore, it stands to reason that we must also accept those wants.  Only then can we truly step into a flow-state that leads us along the path toward a life of abundance.  

    The truth of the matter is, I've identified plenty of moments over the years where I've resisted what is only to find myself stubbornly attempting to walk against the current, and only when I dropped the resistance have I been able to flow toward something truly better.  My most recent resistance within the financial arena has involved laying out larger sums of money.  Not surprising, right?  I mean, we're all excited about money coming in, but who really cares to shell it out?  While it's only natural to resist spending larger sums of money, the question should be asked, "Do I need to allow this money to be spent in order to propel me in the direction of what I truly desire?"  In some instances, the answer might be "Yes."  You see, I have a vision for my life, like most people undoubtedly do.  This vision is so strong and so clear.  I see myself with freedom beyond my wildest dreams living a life where time and money simply exist as tools at my disposal rather than as obstacles.  Along the path to this desired future, I am inspired to take certain actions.  Those actions are crystal clear.  One involves building my business, and the other involves paying off the mortgage on a rental property. Both of these things sound very exciting, don't they?  They are exciting, and when I think about each of them, I am easily able to move up the emotional scale into those higher-level emotions.  That being said, just because an action is inspired and aligned doesn't mean there won't ever be any resistance involved.  You see, both of these things involve large expenditures: business purchases, estimated tax payments, and large principal-only mortgage payments just to name a few.  It's easy to feel resistant to parting with larger sums of money.  Many of us are working to overcome scarcity mindset, an affliction that creates within us a desire to hoard our money, obstructing the very flow of abundance. What we must realize is that holding on too tight to something that must flow out of our experience might just block us from our desired outcome.  If the action is truly inspired, it is also aligned with the desired outcome.  Therefore the desired outcome might well be used in order to soften or eliminate the resistance altogether.  I just made an estimated tax payment, an action I don't particularly enjoy.  But I was able to soften my resistance to this action and accomplish it by visualizing my growing business and thinking about how wonderful it is to have so much extra abundance flowing that it has even created the need for me to do this.  As I prepare to write a rather large check to reduce the principal of the mortgage on that rental, I imagine the freedom I will feel when that obligation has been fully met.  As I picture my future self with all of the freedom she desires, I feel a sense of peace wash over me and have the realization that my resistance has been softened, and I've begun to climb the emotional scale toward a much higher place.  It is from that place that I take my action, and flow toward my desired result.

    Recently, Tosha Silver, author of It's Not Your Money, has jumped in to save me from my resistance to large expenditures with two lines from her famous "Change Me Prayer."  The two lines read as follows: 

     "Let everything that needs to go, go.  Let everything that needs to come, come."

    While I do not recite the entire prayer regularly, I do recite these two lines most mornings as I get out of bed.  I do this in order to remind myself of the importance of allowing things to flow both into and out of my experience, and more fully allow myself to accept and surrender to what is.  If what is is something that is supposed to exit our experience and we resist it, we greatly restrict our own ability to flow into the very life we are working to create for ourselves, so it begs the question: Which do we choose, our desired future or our resistance?

    Join the Newsletter

    Subscribe to get our latest content by email.
      We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at any time.

      Sunday, January 9, 2022

      Paralyzed by Choices

      I remember being just seven years old and winning an elementary school spelling bee.  I was beyond excited.  I had never won anything before, and was exhilarated by experiencing an academic success; perhaps one of my very first.  As the teacher called my name, announcing me as the winner, she also revealed to the class that I was also to be the recipient of a grand prize.  I would have the opportunity to select from one of two items: a brand new watch or a calculator.

      The color immediately drained from my already pale, little face and my stomach was in knots.  I burst into tears, and jumped up out of the seat, running to the cafeteria as fast as my little legs would take me.  There I ran straight into my grandmother's arms.  (If you're asking why my grandmother was in the cafeteria, it's because we lived in a seriously tiny town, and she was the school cook.)  You see, not only had my teacher presented me with my first award, but unknowingly, she also bestowed upon me my very first experience with making a decision.

      Sobbing, I explained to my grandmother that I was going to have to make a decision.  I had never had to make a decision all by myself before, and I was absolutely terrified!  I mean, how do you go about making a decision?  And what happens if you make the wrong one?!  Would I spend forever swimming in a sea of regret over the path not taken?  I had no idea!  My little, seven-year-old self would have much rather been told which prize I had been receiving than have to do the work of deciding for myself.  Being devoid of choice alleviates the individual of a certain amount of personal responsibility and the dreaded feeling of regret that has the opportunity to come with it.  Regret truly is a cancerous emotion, and human nature is such that it will do almost anything to avoid experiencing it.  Even if that means avoiding the element of choice altogether.  It's significantly easier to allow life to keep passing you by, handing you things that you subsequently are forced to deal with than it is to bear the responsibility of having chosen in a manner that you later find undesirable. 

      In case you're curious what my grandmother said to my hysterical, seven-year-old self, she very simply stated that "You only need to make a choice for now.  You can always choose again later."  She went on to explain that I did, in fact, need to select one of these things, but that there was no reason I couldn't have both.  If I really wanted a watch and a calculator, I could have both of these things.  It just might not be at the same time.  

      The truth is that I really don't remember which decision I made.  Isn't that funny?  The very, first decision I ever had to make on my own...   While I may not remember the actual prize I chose, I will never forget that pit in my stomach, the anxiety associated with choice, or the wisdom my grandmother shared with me that day.  You only need to make a choice for now.  You can always choose again later.

      We frequently discuss the freedom and power associated with having a choice, but rarely address the responsibility or paralysis that accompanies it.  Along with the power of choices comes the knowledge and understanding that we are truly steering the ship toward our future.  But you see, here's the kicker:  we always were.  We've always been steering that ship, but passively. Sitting with our hands off the wheel, we could fool ourselves into the idea that the tides, undercurrent, or something else was to blame for the resulting undesirable direction to which we float.  Moreover, our successes get chalked up to simple luck as a result of our passivity.  

      When it comes to our financial lives, the choices can seem overwhelming.  More and more, people are becoming aware of the need to save money, but suffer from paralysis over the endless array of choices involved.  How much should I save?  Where should I save: retirement account? Liquid savings account?  Brokerage account?  If I use a retirement account, should it be an IRA or a 401k?  Pay down the mortgage or invest more?  Sometimes, when we feel we have entirely too many choices, paralysis sets in.  But where does this paralysis come from?

       Reasons for Paralysis:

      There are three primary reasons people seem to suffer from paralysis when it comes to financial choices (or quite frankly any life choices): lack of knowledge, fear of the future, or regret from the past.  Let's take a moment to address these one by one.

      Lack of Knowledge:

      Sometimes our financial choices are accompanied by a myriad of things we simply do not understand.  Perhaps we don't understand the jargon, rules, or details of a financial strategy well enough to feel confident executing a certain financial task.  We might also not know how to go about getting a financial professional to help us.  So, we simply bury our heads in the sand.

      I have a client that struggled with this for years regarding her retirement savings options.  She had access to a 401k at her workplace, but didn't particularly understand how it worked. She didn't know how much she was allowed to contribute, or what the recommendation would be for someone in her situation.  She had also heard about IRAs, and wondered whether that was a better option than the 401k.  If she could even get as far as deciding between an IRA or a 401k, she wondered how on earth she would decide which investments to choose? 

      Unfortunately, personal finance isn't the sort of thing most of us learned in high school (which is unfortunate).  So, we are forced to contend with it on our own.  Fortunately, there are a lot of ways to get this sort of knowledge.  You can start by reading books, magazines, and blogs that contain personal finance content.  You can also take courses. As I said before, this particular person is one of my clients. So, she decided to sign up for my group coaching program in order to educate herself on things she didn't know and address some of her limiting beliefs around money.

      Fear of the Future:

      We become so terrified of making mistakes that we allow ourselves to sit on the sidelines and do nothing.  It's ironic that personal finance is largely about living beautiful and fulfilling lives right now while setting aside for our future selves, and yet so many people find themselves in a state of panic right now and fear over the future.  That's no way to live.

      By Law of Attraction standards, the most important moment we can experience is the one we are in right now.  Nothing else truly exists.  This is not to say that we fail to set money aside in the now, for it is important to remember that every moment we are currently living was once the unknown future.  So, one of the most proactive, inspired actions to take regarding the future is to take pleasure in the process of setting funds aside now.  

      It seems that many people get a bit blocked when they try to conceptualize experiencing the joy of saving right now without overly focusing on the future. So, let's look at this another way.  Don't you love planning your vacation?  You look at websites in order to familiarize yourself with your options; you begin to book airline tickets, hotels, and excursions.  You fantasize, seeing yourself in exotic locations having beautiful experiences, and in the process, you feel pure joy.  The moment hasn't come yet and you aren't overly focused on it, but you are also gifting yourself a beautiful experience right now.  You are enjoying a delicious story for which you are the writer, designing your life in your mind.  As you book the airline tickets, hotels, and excursions, you are funding the experience in the now, and joyfully so.  You don't fixate on it; you just do it, and you're excited that you've set yourself up for an adventure-filled experience of your own design.  Clearly, the vacation hasn't come yet.  But you're aware that you'll enjoy the results a lot more if you give it your attention before it occurs.  Planning for our future financial needs and wants can be very similar.  We don't particularly need to obsess over it, but just like planning for a vacation, if we simply determine our projected future need, we can set aside from the abundance we experience right now, and take great pleasure in knowing that we're set to enjoy a comfortable future.

      Regret from the Past:

      It's entirely too easy to get caught in a loop of "should have."  I should have started investing sooner.  I should have cash-flowed college.  I should have run the other direction instead of filling out that credit card offer.  This negative self-talk lends itself to extremely low-level emotions on the emotional scale and tends to feed into perpetuating a negative money story, reinforcing our limiting beliefs, and creating scarcity mindset, all of which create momentum in the direction of that which we do not want.  Why would we carry that into our present and future?  

      I think back to what my grandmother said to me.  You can always choose again.  If you made a choice yesterday that you weren't happy with, try again.  You didn't invest in your 401k last year?  Don't just sit on the sidelines now because you did before!  Choose again.  You racked up some credit card debt last year?  Choose again.  Take that credit card out of your wallet; make the decision to stop carrying it, and start throwing extra money on the balance!

      Part of choosing again involves forgiving ourselves.  We must forgive ourselves for that which we did not know, our mistakes, and that which we feared.  Forgive ourselves; love ourselves, and let go.  Sometimes the letting go is the hardest part.  We want to punish our current selves for the sins of our former selves, but you want to know who else is going to suffer?  Our future selves.  Don't all of ourselves deserve better?

      As I think back, there are so many choices in my life and with money that I would love to have the opportunity to do again.  Sometimes, in the moment, I thought I was doing the right thing for myself, but later upon self-reflection, I suspect that I didn't.  That's a tough pill to swallow honestly, but allowing current me to beat-up former me won't help.  Perhaps the best answer is to choose to love former me and accept where she was at that time.

      ...and while I still can't remember whether I chose the watch or the calculator, (although now that I think of it, I think it might have been the calculator) I'll never forget that first experience with the anxiety that can come with decision-making.  I will also never forget what my grandmother taught me about the permanency of those choices:  You only have to choose for now.  You can always choose again later.

      Join the Newsletter

      Subscribe to get our latest content by email.
        We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at any time.