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.  

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