Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Power of Influence

My usual morning walk was somewhat unusual.  Someone else opted to occupy my sacred space.  Any attempt to negotiate who had the right-of-way was off the table.  The one-sided dialogue did nothing to change this critter’s mind.

As I clapped my hands to scare the skunk, I politely asked, “Are you going to get off my road?”

As he ran in my direction, I had my answer. 
I’m a quick learner. Nothing I said; nothing I did; nothing I could do would influence him.  He held all the power.  If I didn’t get out of his way, I soon would be sprayed with his influential power.

Undeniably, we all have influencers in our lives. Whether we are influenced by people, things, circumstances and most importantly, our thoughts, we can examine whether the influences are working in our favor or causing harm. Obviously, this is a broad topic which affects numerous areas in our lives but in the context of money matters, the influences can be shortlisted.  

Generally, our thinking causes the most problems in our lives.  Our minds are the Number #1 hazard if we allow them to wander until we can rein them in.  This is especially true with money. Steve Siebold wrote the book, How Rich People Think, to offer insight how the average person versus the elite thinks about money.  As he shares in the introduction, “the differences are as extreme as they are numerous.”  In 100 different ways, he proves this theory. We need to learn to be extremely conscious of our thinking habits and refine them to model “rich thoughts.”

Pay attention to the conversations that roll around in our minds.

“I don’t make enough money.”

“I need to buy that new car.”

“I wish I could afford to do that.”

“Fear of Missing Out” (a.k.a. FOMO) was discussed in the previous blog post, Create the Ultimate Vision. When we jump on opportunities that require borrowing money, we should assess whether we can afford these luxury purchases (or the additional payments). 

But there’s another hazardous area that is sly and goes innocently undetected. It’s our addictions.  We rationalize our behavior by seeing these “purchases” as necessities. Addictions come in different “shapes and forms”.  Addictions to cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, shoes, and even, books, steal our money away from things on our dream list.  We justify the need to support our habits or offer compromises in exchange. It’s common to hear, “Because I don’t smoke or drink, I can afford to splurge on this.”  This isn’t a finger-pointing exercise about who is doing what but rather a self-examination exercise to catch the things which influence you.

Occasionally, our circles of friends and family influence us to do things we would rather not or cannot afford.  We are pulled in a direction we shouldn’t go because financially we will pay dearly both in terms of robbing our piggy bank today as well as future goals and dreams.

Does this sound familiar?

“We’re all going camping this weekend.”

“We’re all going to the concert.”

“We’re all going to the football game.”

"No” is often the hardest word to say out loud.  Saying “No” causes disappointment for both others and ourselves.   Although it’s fun to go places, here’s an example of choices:  How often can we afford to go? Where can we have fun with our family and friends which may not be costly?

Another hazardous area of influence is the business world. A marketer’s purpose is to influence us to buy something we didn’t even realize we needed or wanted. Once we’re hooked all we can think about is that “thing” that will make our life so wonderful.  The must-have, got-to-have, need-to-have influences create the burning desire to spend money freely on things we may regret.   If you don’t believe you’re being influenced, you will change your perspective when you read the book, The Power of Habits.  Marketing is “big business” to entice customers to spend their money. In some cases, we buy into something we can’t live without...BUT sometimes we buy into things that have negative consequences. One example is “gambling”.  Awareness to whether you are being influenced positively or negatively is crucial.   

We also can be influenced by our present circumstances.   Our present job (or lack of one) or the amount of debt we presently are carrying, are conditions which overwhelm us.  Life crises, such as a divorce, sudden illness, or disability, uninvited and unwelcomed, require their own unique handling.  These influence both our physical and financial well-being. Seeking professional help in these areas is advisable.  Some journeys cannot be treaded alone.   

So to be blunt, you have to determine what “stinks” in your life.  If you have to run in the opposite direction, do so.  Run.  Run fast before you are caught in the cross-fire between doing the right thing and the regretful thing.  Run to professionals if you need help.  There are hundreds of influences in your financial life that weren’t discussed here but I am certain you know the ones relevant to you.  If you aren’t entirely sure, track where you spend your money. The “culprit” will show up. When you give power of influence to your true goals, dreams and aspirations you will be rewarded with a rich outcome.  

Please feel free to share any negative influences you overcame which may positively help others.  

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Create the Ultimate Vision

We’ve all heard it.  The all-too-common phrase, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” When you look at a picture, clarity and meaning without words are there for all to see. Whether the picture is a gleaming child, a peaceful sunset, or a dream home, these images have a way of springing emotions to life.  We feel it. So if this is true, then is it possible that a picture can propel our goals, dreams, and aspirations into reality? People who have created vision boards for themselves say, “Yes!”     

Chase and Create
A vision board is a collection of pictures depicting the things which you long to achieve or acquire. It’s a collection of your goals, dreams and aspirations, the very things I have been encouraging you to “chase” and “create.”  In place of a list written only in black ink, creating a poster board covered with images and inspirational messages, will inject colour and meaning into your dreams.  At a quick glance, you’ll see your life’s plans on display as a daily reminder.  With mustard-seed faith, your dreams will magically transform into reality when you believe they are possible. 

To support this theory, the book, The Secret, explains the powerful process of visualization in this way.

The reason visualization is so powerful is because as you create pictures in your mind of seeing yourself with what it is you want, you are generating thoughts and feelings of having it now. Visualization is simply powerfully focused thought in pictures, and it causes equally powerful feelings. When you are visualizing, you are emitting that powerful frequency out into the Universe.  The law of attraction will take hold of that powerful signal and return those pictures back to you, just as you saw them in your mind.”  

The Vision Board as a Remedy

Creating a vision board for your goals and dreams might go one step further.  I sense this process as a remedy to cure specific ailments.

1.     Overcome the FOMO epidemic.

Until recently, I had never heard of FOMO. Perhaps I had but didn’t realize the epidemic had a different name than the one that I knew.   FOMO, “the Fear of Missing Out”, is equal to what I’ve always known as “keeping up with the Joneses”. Marissa Sollows, Senior Education Coordinator, with Financial and Consumer Services Commission of New Brunswick, wrote an excellent article, Conquer Your Fears of Missing Out to Get on Top of your Finances. 

Marissa explains that FOMO, the Fear of Missing Out, is the physical and emotional reaction we have when we feel that we are missing out on an opportunity. FOMO can provoke strong emotions ranging from sadness to full blown anxiety. It can also make us feel unsatisfied with the experiences we have had and things we own.   Marissa goes on to explain that these strong emotions are heightened with the posts viewed on social media of our friends’ dazzling lives. 

The cure for FOMO would be to determine what you want and then create your vision board.  Here’s the underlying truth. “You can have ANYTHING you want. You just can’t have EVERYTHING you want.”  You have to figure it out.  A vision board will provide focus and clarity.  You will no longer be chasing someone else’s dream.  You will chase your own dream.

2.     A Change in Direction.  
Life has a way of steering us in the opposite direction we ever intended to travel. A painful relationship, an unsuccessful business venture, and a sudden illness can send us spinning.   We aren’t given any clear explanations how this happens but when it does, we feel totally helpless and frustrated, leading us to believe that we may never be happy.  It’s at this junction that we have a choice.  Don’t you love choices?  We can choose to believe the worst that we were destined to live unhappily ever after, or we can choose to believe that the best is coming our way.  We can choose to believe that it’s our turn to have the very things our family, friends, and neighbors have.   And it all starts with believing and creating the ultimate vision both in our minds and on a vision board. 
Permission to Play and Create
Now that you have permission to play with glue, scissors, and paper, capturing and creating images of your life with pictures, you may feel lost. Don’t fear. Click here for a quick four-step guide to help create your vision board.   Don’t stop here. This is one opportunity you don’t want to miss out on.  A Google search will lead you to plenty of information on vision boards and its benefits.  I would love to hear the results of your creation. I invite you to share your thoughts, successes, and yes, even your frustrations with your vision board masterpiece.