I recently had conversations with a few people that are having money problems. Most of them were facing some sort of financial debt. When I talked to them, all they talked about was how much debt they are in and that they want to get rid of their debt as quickly as possible. Every other sentence seems to be related to debt, or how debt has impacted their quality of life. It became obvious that they would enjoy a better life if they were debt-free.
While there's nothing wrong with having debt and wanting to get rid of them... I believe there's a better approach.
Have you heard the phrase "what you focus on expands?"
I used to be a doubter on the above statement but now I'm a true believer. I believe that being positive mentally and using positive words, will help attract positive things in my life. Having a positive approach to life is very important.
Ever wonder why people say: "words of affirmation is a very powerful tool?" Simply, because what you focus on expands. Words of affirmation allows you to keep focusing on the things you want to achieve in life. If you believe in something and focus on it, your mind will put all the energy, consciously and subconsciously, to make this happen. Furthermore, the universe will bend over backwards to help you achieving your goals.
How does this have anything to do with debt?
Many people who are deep in debt, are not thinking about savings and putting money aside for their retirement. They are focused on getting rid of their debt. They are focusing on paying off their debt first before they start saving. Perhaps a better approach is to focus on savings first (meaning you pay yourself first). Learn the most important personal finance skill - how to manage you money. By managing your money properly and saving a certain percentage of your income each month, your savings will grow. You can use the savings to become debt-free. Perhaps it's putting one dollar aside each day, or allocate 5% of your income toward savings. Whichever way you decide, it's important to develop a system and to stick with it. It's also important to have a budget system. Having a budget system means you can understand what's coming into your bank account, and what's causing money to leave your bank account. This is a very important knowledge to have in order to become financially successful. If you have no clue that you're spending your money on, how do you plan to save for the future or become debt-free? This is the premise of living below your means. The concept is simple and can be achieved very easily, as long as you have a money management system and stick with it.
Some people may read this and start saying "but I don't have any money to save, what do I do?"
Well, you most likely have a pay cheque, don't you? You need to start managing your money even before you have it, or else you will never have any.
Please repeat the above statement again if you don't understand how important it is.
Speaking of looking at things from a positive approach, compare the following phrases that I hear all the time:
Q: "How are you doing?"
A: "I'm not bad, not bad at all."
"I'm tired all the time because I go to bed late."
"I'm always late for my appointments."
"I'm flat out broke."
"I have a third date curse." -> This is for Henry at Living at Home. 😉
Did I just say that what you focus on expands? Why not put a positive spin instead?
Q: "How are you doing?"
A: "I'm doing great!"
"I feel energized, I always go to bed early."
"I'm always early for my appointments."
"I'm saving one dollar every day for my bright financial future."
"I look forward to the 10th date with this wonderful girl I'm seeing."
"I manage my money successfully."
See how a little difference in wording can change how you view things? When did it become fashionable and cool to use double negatives?
Do you know how powerful our minds work? Here's a good personal example:
Mrs. T and I started talking about our "perfect" house probably 3 or so years ago. We talked about how we wanted a house with a creative room so Mrs. T can sew and paint and I can do my photography work. We wanted a den room close to the house entrance, away from the living quarter so Mrs. T can use it for her business. We wanted a cozy family room, no formal living room and formal dining room as we think they are wasted space. We also focused on a gourmet kitchen and most importantly, a yard that Mrs. T can create her perfect kitchen garden in. We even clipped some photos from magazines that resembled what we had in mind so we could visualize what our "perfect" house would look like one day. We had these clippings on a board that we called dream board and looked at them every so often.
Years later we started looking for a house. It took us over a year to find a house that we liked (we were looking off and on). After moving to our current house, one night Mrs. T and I were unpacking our dream board clippings and started talking about what we wanted in our perfect house back then. This is when we realized that we're already living in our perfect house. We have somehow manifested our perfect house. Isn't it funny how things work?
Don't believe this stuff works? Here's another personal example:
At beginning of each year, Mrs. T and I sit down and set our net worth and annual dividend goals together. We set reasonable but challenging numbers. Once we set the goals, we write them down and visualize them in our minds. We visualize how happy we will be at end of the year when we achieve these goals. Next we completely detach ourselves from these goals. It will be wonderful if we achieve these goals but we will not feel devastated if we don't. Emotionally we are no longer tied to these goals that we want to achieve. Whenever we update our net worth every quarter we will look at these numbers and then visualize how happy we will be when we achieve these goals at end of the year. It's amazing how much our net worth and dividend goals have grown over the past few years and our results have been higher than our goals.
Positive approach works. It will also make you happier overall.
By now you're probably wondering how to do this. Here's a simple step by step guide.
First step is to take action and become aware what you are saying.
Recognize what you're saying every day. If you're using negative words or phrases, or using double negatives so you can pretend to be a hipster, change it. Force yourself to say "delete" or "cancel" even if you may look and sound weird to other people, and say the same sentence again but with a positive approach.
Ask your families, friends, or even co-workers to remind you if you use any negative words in your sentences. Quite often we are so used to using negative words or double negatives we don't even realize ourselves.
Once you're aware of your words and actions, you're already more than half way toward being positive!
Next step is to practice and practice and practice (cue the Allen Iverson practice clip). Be consistent.
Having a positive approach to life is a continuous practice. Keep working at it. Make it a daily routine.
Another tip, tomorrow when you wake up and get on the floor, state this to yourself:
"I love my life! I'm awesome!"
Notice how wonderful and awesome that feels and how great your day will be. And keep doing it.