Every so often I will – against all odds – latch onto something. A few moons ago, I finally decided that I had more control over my health than I was willing to admit. Maybe “decided” isn’t quite the right word. Perhaps what happened is that I was finally ready to accept what I always knew to be true: what was stopping me from being healthy wasn’t my work schedule or my commitments to various nonprofits. I finally understood that what was stopping me was ME. That revelation was sobering. And liberating.
Once I realized that I had control, I began to seek out ways to make better health choices. I got a handle on my food and exercise choices. Now, when I see changes in the scale or the fit of my clothing, I can do a pretty good job of pinpointing the issue – without first languishing in despair for days or weeks. And when I start to feel overly anxious even when there’s no obvious reason for it, I know I can look at my sleep patterns and intensify my exercise to nip that once-paralyzing anxiety in the bud!
I’m proud to say I completed several biking miles by participating in various charity races around town — something I previously had assumed I would never be able to do. And the best part? I love every aching mile.
I am often my own biggest obstacle to accomplishing my goals. I have adopted a new mantra lately to challenge myself, “I am getting out of my own way!”
So what does that mean? As I go through my day, I pay closer attention to when my thinking, behavior, and language do not align with the goals I am working to accomplish. Sometimes it means creating an opportunity to get in the zone in a job duty I find laborious (e.g., reviewing monthly investment statements). Other times it means saying “yes” to something I didn’t think I could do (e.g., riding my bike around Stone Mountain). While still other times it may result in saying “no” to a noble idea or opportunity that doesn’t align with my Life Priorities (e.g., declining to serve on the Board of Directors for a worthy non-profit or spending money previously allocated to savings).
While there are still times when I have butterflies over saying yes to a new challenge or a twinge of regret over declining a new opportunity, I feel more in control over my choices. Instead of being buffeted by the latest crisis of the day or other people’s priorities, I am working toward my own goals. This change didn’t happen overnight – just as I challenge my clients to list their Life Priorities and define their goals, I have worked to figure out what I want to accomplish and what resources I can bring to each step along my own journey.
So here’s my challenge to you: How are you getting in your own way and how it is preventing you from making progress towards your goals?
It’s time for a reality check. Luckily, we have tools at GV to help with a reality check. Several such tools involve traditional financial planning; others blend traditional financial planning with Guided Wealth Transformation®.
- Create a Balance Sheet. Something as simple as creating a balance sheet that lists your assets (what you own) and liabilities (what you owe) can be eye-opening. As someone who helps people create accurate and complete balance sheets, I am happy to report that the results often prove more reassuring than terrifying.
- Evaluate your spending. (Some refer to this financial step as creating a budget, but I believe the word budget puts a negative spin on the positive action of deliberate spending.) Understanding where your money goes can help you assess whether you are spending your resources on your Life Priorities and whether you are on-track towards your long-term financial goals. Of course, you cannot answer that question unless and until you have taken steps to identify your Life Priorities, something our Guided Wealth Transformation® tools may be able to help you do.
- Create accountability. Next, work on developing an honest relationship, or a few, in which you can develop mutual accountability.
- Support Yourself. Finally, be compassionate and loving to yourself. Putting yourself down, injecting self-doubt instead of confidence, and using victim language will hold you back. Speak to yourself as if you are speaking with a best friend.
Working closely with GV’s Guided Wealth Transformation® team, on training with my fellow advisors, and with my clients, I have become increasingly aware of limitations I put on myself. We acknowledge some of these limitations – I once said I’d never be fit enough to bike from Decatur to Stone Mountain, and then around the mountain and back – but some limitations sneak into our self-perception subconsciously. Occasionally, through sheer willpower, we can tackle the limitations we acknowledge, but it is often our hidden limitations that prove more damaging.
In Guided Wealth Transformation®, we refer to these limitations as the Five Barriers to Using our Wealth to Create a Happier Life. As a reminder, they are:
- Being confused about the meaning of money.
- Feeling restricted, overwhelmed or even burdened because you are climbing the anxiety pyramid.
- Being unclear about your Life Priorities.Ô
- Failing to appreciate that your true wealth is more than just your money. We believe there are six elements of wealth: your financial resources, time, talents, wisdom, mind & body, and network & community.
- Neglecting to focus on the three keys to a happy life – creating great relationships, doing activities that allow you to have more engaged experiences and making a difference in the lives of others.
How can Guided Wealth Transformation® get you past your hidden limitations?
I have the privilege of focusing on the principles of Guided Wealth Transformation® every day, and yet I am still surprised at how illuminating the process can and has been for me, my colleagues and my clients. By approaching new challenges and new opportunities using the GWT® framework, I find I can free myself from my own limitations and old paradigms that otherwise left me stuck.
A few months ago I read an article that challenged the reader to imagine starting from nothingness. What if we could start anew with all the obligations put on our time? What if we were not limited by the labels we were born with or assigned to us? How do labels like our name, gender, race, region, religion, size, age, personal style, family history, birth order, title and our job affect who we are and what we believe about ourselves? What if we could approach every challenge or opportunity from “nothing”?
I found the notion of starting with a truly blank slate hard to fully embrace. For better or worse, we are defined by our obligations and our labels. But, as I continued to ponder the challenge, I realized that the goal was not to reject every label or every obligation, only to make sure that we consciously and deliberately accept these obligations and labels, and only when they fit within our Life Priorities and values. GWT® helps me appreciate that we all have six elements of wealth and that it is our job to figure out how best to use them all – especially our time – to create the life we desire.
I also realized this: I get in my own way a lot! Call it labels, childhood money messages, the illusion of control, or the Five Barriers to Wealth, I am often my own biggest obstacle to accomplishing my goals. Those close to me have heard my new mantra lately, “I am getting out of my own way!”