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Are you focusing on the wrong things

What do you see in the above picture?

Do you see the growing vegetables, herbs, and flowers?

Or do you see the yellowish burned patchy lawn, and all the weeds?

Mrs. T and I were talking about this the other day. You see, when we step outside into our garden, Mrs. T sees all the flowers, and all the vegetables and herbs that we are growing. She feels happy and excited about all the plants growing in our garden and the yield we’ll get in the near future. On the other hand, when I step out into our garden, I see all the weeds growing. I see weeds growing in the lawn and all over the garden. The weeds are taking over!!!

Although the items being presented in front of our eyes are the same, Mrs. T and I see them very differently. Mrs. T focuses on the growing potential of the plants while I focus on the weeds that I want to get rid of in our garden.

How we perceive our garden means we respond differently to what is growing there. Upon seeing her nice garden and all the growing potentials, Mrs. T is happy, she wants to take care of the plants, vegetables, and herbs to make sure that they can continue to grow nicely and provide us with foods throughout the year. She is focusing on the awesome harvests in the near future. On the other hand, I get frustrated with all the weeds growing. I will pull the weeds out manually and feel this process will never end. Because the more weeds I pull out, the more weeds I see in our garden. The more I focus on getting rid of the weeds, the more weeds I see, isn’t that odd?

Isn’t it funny that how we see things greatly influence our reactions? 

Obviously I’m focusing on the wrong things when it comes to our garden. I am focusing on all the negatives, like the never ending weeding. Instead I could focus on the positives, such as making the lawn luscious and focus on all the growing potential in our garden.

Compare the following two phrases: Weeding that never seems to end vs. making the lawn luscious.

One phrase is very negative while the other one is very positive. I would say when we focus on the negatives, all we see are the negative things in life and more and more of it too. Furthermore, we will attract negative things into our life, because we are sending out negative vibrations. On the other hand, when we focus on the positives, all we see are the positive things in life. Because we send out positive vibrations, we will attract more positive things into our life.

Not surprisingly, the same concept can be applied to personal finance as well.

Do you focus on the positives or the negatives of your personal finances? 

What are some negatives of personal finance that we tend to focus on?

Some might focus on all the debt that they have. They focus on getting rid of the debt. People who are extremely budget focused tend to look at every single small expense and feel bad about spending any unnecessary money or not making their own toothpaste to save an extra dollar or two. They also tend to get frustrated with potential unplanned expenses at the end of the month. I was like that when we had our financial epiphany and started our quest for financial independence.

The above scenario is like focusing on all the weeds in the yard. The focus here is on all the negatives of personal finance. When we do that, we may feel guilty for spending money. We feel guilty to even pamper ourselves slightly. The guilt eventually takes over and we feel completely overwhelmed whenever we need to spend money. We become Uncle Scrooge!

How can we instead focus on the positives of personal finance?

Instead of focusing on getting rid of debt, focus on growing our net worth. How do we do that? First, we can focus on increasing our savings. Next determine where our savings should go to provide the highest rate of return. If the credit card interest is 20% and the stock investment return is 5%, then it makes sense to “invest” the savings on the credit card balance; if the car loan is 0.99% and the stock investment return is 5%, then it makes sense to “invest’ the savings on stocks.

Instead of scrutinizing every single expenses in the budget, focus on spending wisely, like purchasing quality products that will last longer, or buying used to save on taxes. Focusing on growing passive income streams, and focusing on learning to become more efficient with personal finances by using tools and apps, and last but not least focus on convenient ways to expedite the financial independence journey. This was what I personally did, going from focusing on the negatives of personal finance to focusing on the positives of personal finance.

Have you heard the phrase what you focus on expands? Trust me, this is a real thing. If we spend every minute of our life focusing on the negatives of personal finance, like getting rid of debt, we will never get out of debt, instead we will actually create more debt. On the other hand, if we focus on growing our net worth, our debt will eliminate itself automatically over time and our net worth will flourish and FI will come sooner rather than later.

The yard example is a nice reminder that I still have to improve my positive outlook. While I’m doing better at being positive with personal finances, I still need some work in other areas of my life, such as how I look at our garden or how I react when I’m driving in heavy traffic.

Given the choice, I’d rather focus on the positives rather than the negatives in life. Why? Because focusing on the positives in life is an easier and a simpler task and once you get used to it and see the benefits of it, there is no going back :).

There is a very fine line between being positive and being negative. Often the difference is as simple as your choice of words. For examples, rather than saying that you’re doing not bad at all, say that you’re doing great, rather than saying you won’t go to bed too late, say that you’d go to bed early. Focusing on the positives in life will allow us to be much much happier in the long run.

 

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25 Comments

  • Reply
    Income Surfer (@IncomeSurf)
    May 18, 2016 at 8:06 am

    Well said Tawcan Family. We all see what we are looking for, or looking to see. I have found that naming our blessings and positives daily, improves my attitude. I don’t always succeed, but the world is negative enough…..

    -Bryan

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      May 18, 2016 at 12:02 pm

      Well said Bryan. Being positive definitely improves your attitude.

  • Reply
    The Green Swan
    May 18, 2016 at 8:06 am

    You’re absolutely right! I believe in the power of optimism and tend to be a glass half full type of person. A lot depends on your viewpoint! Thanks for the post.

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      May 18, 2016 at 12:02 pm

      Glass half full is a good approach IMO.

  • Reply
    missmoneypennies1
    May 18, 2016 at 8:16 am

    I love the positivity! I need to remember this (when looking at my garden and my finance!). I sometimes beat myself up too much when I make mistakes or let the weeds get too nuts in my lawn 🙂

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      May 18, 2016 at 12:02 pm

      Definitely a good thing to remember to remain positive in all situations.

  • Reply
    Maggie
    May 18, 2016 at 8:51 am

    Excellent post Tawcan! There is always room for improvement, but if we focus too much on those gaps, we’ll never enjoy the successes that could motivate toward actually improving!

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      May 18, 2016 at 12:03 pm

      Glad you liked the post Maggie. 🙂

  • Reply
    brian503
    May 18, 2016 at 9:12 am

    A great reminder. So amazing how we view the same things so differently. Starting off your day by saying to yourself “today is going to be a great day” can help set the stage for positivity all day long.

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      May 18, 2016 at 12:03 pm

      That’s a great way to start off your day. Or saying “I love my life!”

  • Reply
    Stefan - The Millennial Budget
    May 18, 2016 at 9:40 am

    I am somebody who always tries to have a positive outlook on different items. The moment we have one bad thought that is how we perceive the item and nothing good will result of that. This is how I think of the stock market. One can say the market fell 5% today this is unsafe I need to sell my gains before I lose them or you can also say hey this is great I can add more onto my portfolio and get a steal of a deal.

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      May 18, 2016 at 12:03 pm

      Exactly. When you have a bad thought it just grows in your brain, I guess that’s the whole concept behind Inception. 🙂

  • Reply
    Thias @It Pays Dividends
    May 18, 2016 at 10:21 am

    Great post Tawcan! I’m in the same boat as you – when I’m outside in our yard I only see the work I need to do. Luckily my wife always reminds me of how great the weather is and lucky we are to have a nice place to ourselves that we get to enjoy!

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      May 18, 2016 at 12:04 pm

      Great to hear that your wife reminds you the positives. It’s tough not to focus on all the work you need to do but look at it as time spent outside enjoying fresh air.

  • Reply
    Amanda
    May 18, 2016 at 2:16 pm

    I really love this article. I have spent the past few years in a difficult job. I always thought of myself as very optimistic and positive, but the longer I was in that job, the more negative I became. That negativity transferred itself to every aspect of my life, both at work and at home. It took me a long time to realize that if I could focus on the positives, I had more energy, more focus, and best of all, more ideas for moving towards a better situation!

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      May 19, 2016 at 10:43 am

      Hi Amanda,

      It’s definitely hard not to bring home all the negativity from work. That’s something I’ve been working on lately. 🙂

  • Reply
    Mr.Tako @ Mr. Tako Escapes
    May 18, 2016 at 3:25 pm

    Nice post. Sometimes we all need to remind ourselves to look at the positives. Occasionally I get trolls posting negative comments on my blog, but I have to remind myself the vast majority are quite positive.

    Don’t let a few negatives get you down when life is mostly great!

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      May 19, 2016 at 10:45 am

      Hi Mr. Tako,

      Luckily the PF blogosphere is very supportive. It’s totally OK to delete these negative comments on your blog. Life is great indeed.

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    Investment Hunting
    May 20, 2016 at 11:21 am

    You’ve gotta focus on the positive in investing and lie. It’s a long and painful existence for those who allow negativity to control their lives. Trust me, I know. I lost everything in my late 30’s, I could have easily given into negativity. It’s not a recipe for success.

  • Reply
    Dividendsdownunder
    May 23, 2016 at 7:35 pm

    A very positive philosophy. I saw the plants, but I’m not really a gardener so I’m not sure which ones are the weeds looking at that picture.

    I do know life is better when you appreciate the good things you have, but at the same time try to actively reduce the negative (either by removing or not allowing them to develop in the first place). I think you both have the mindset, it takes both to get the best result (mental mindset + physical result). If you just focus on the positive then weeds will overrun the garden. If you just focus on the weeds, your life will be an endless unhappy state of near-but-not-quite perfection.

    🙂

    Tristan

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      May 24, 2016 at 10:36 am

      Hi Tristan,

      Another interesting thought is what’s really the difference between flowers and weeds -> it’s really your interpretation. Same thing with positive vs. negative things in your life.

  • Reply
    DivGuy
    May 24, 2016 at 7:04 am

    Very good article Tawcan!
    I tend to focus on the positive things. When I spend too much, I only think that I’ll make more money to compensate (while my wife gets worried! hahaha!).

    Our mind is a powerful tool but we need to aim it at the right direction. Sometimes, it’s not that easy!
    Cheers,
    Mike.

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      May 24, 2016 at 10:38 am

      Hi Mike,

      Our mind is indeed a very powerful tool. Unfortunately many of us don’t realize this and do not utilize this powerful tool.

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