Note: This is a post from Adam Baker, founder of Man Vs. Debt.
Understanding the numbers of your financial life is an important principle in helping you take back control. However, just studying the math of your situation has its limits.
Many financial experts choose to focus all their time and energy on tangible formulas, benchmarks, and percentage-based rules of thumb. In doing so, they completely ignore the most essential skills!
TRUTH: There are several skills far more important than just “knowing the numbers” of your situation.
TRUTH: You do not have to be good at math to break-free from the burden of a stress-filled financial life.
All these formulas and percentages are useful, but only when properly put in their place in the pecking order. Here are 3 skills you should focus on before getting a grasp on what the numbers of your situation are…
#1 – Developing A Blessed Attitude…
It may sound cliche, but in every successful turn-around I’ve seen or studied – a positive, blessed attitude was at the very core.
What the heck is a “blessed attitude,” you ask?
A blessed attitude is a life-long learned skill. It’s the ability to break-free of everyday ruts and negative attitude by constantly reminding yourself with all the reasons you are truly blessed.
A recent statistic I read stated that a far majority of the world (close to 70%) lives on less than $2.00 per day.
If you are reading this post, chances are you are already ahead of 95% of the world’s population in terms of possibility and freedom.
Don’t get me wrong here, this isn’t about the token hippie dude screaming “Just be positive and it’ll all be okay, man.” I don’t believe positive thinking alone manifests anything for you long-term.
However, I’m utterly convinced that a constant negative, entitled attitude will drag you down and keep you trapped.
It’s something that we all battle with on a daily basis (trust me, I’m in the same boat!).
If you let an attitude of entitlement win, you’ll complain, procrastinate, idle, blame, and wallow. We all do it, it’s our entitled attitude rearing its ugly head.
But if you defeat this negativity with a blessed attitude, you’ll thank, praise, hustle, capitalize, and plow forward.
Remember the last time you felt that blessed?
Like absolutely nothing could stop you?
I love that feeling, when I’m in those unstoppable moments.
My goal is to get to around 80% blessed / 20% entitled. I’m not sure I’m there yet, but I am convinced that this trait is far more important to turning long-term, lasting financial change than any formula.
[Your Challenge – 5 min]: Make a simple list of everything you’re thankful for. Don’t wait for Thanksgiving, do it right now.
Be honest with yourself. Don’t put answers just because “they should be on your list,” put the answers you really feel blessed to have in your life.
Now, stick it in a place you’ll regularly see. Maybe the bathroom mirror, next to your computer screen, or on the wall next to your bed.
Further Reading: Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
#2 – Honest, Humble Communication…
This isn’t just an essential financial skill, it’s a life skill.
Don’t believe it’s that important for lasting change? Think again.
Honest, humble communication will help you:
- Establish passionate, motivating goals with your loved ones
- Ask for a raise
- Get concrete answers for specific questions you have
- Get more money when selling your crap
- Add more value at your job (think promotion!)
- Go into business for yourself
- Negotiate a discount on your next major purchase
- Establish an investment plan with an advisor
- Overcome any obstacle that blocks your turn around
Anything worth doing in life is worth doing with other people. And anytime you’re around another person, honest, humble communication will reward you every time.
As you may notice, a few of these benefits include learning how to negotiate. Let me tell you a little secret about that:
Negotiation is simply the convergence of Communication and Problem-Solving.
Some of you may view negotiating as a scary word or skill – it’s not. It’s simply what we call honest, humble communication when a problem needs to be solved.
We all negotiate and communicate every single day of our lives. It’s time we recognize The #1 biggest tip: stop trying to be right.
It’s part of our culture to enter into any type of communication, even casually, with the intent to be right, correct, or justified.
Master communicators that I have studied and learned from have one skill in common. They understand that the goal of the communication is not to be seen as the “one who is right.”
Even more importantly, most of the time being “right” will be counterproductive to the real goal of your communication in the first place!
Let me say that again. More often than not, you’ll have to sacrifice part of the real goal of your communication in order for others to view you as being right in the discussion or argument.
What’s more important to you – being right or being effective?
Most of the time you’ll be choosing one or the other. Choose wisely.
[Your Challenge – 20 min]: Pick one of the following three options for practicing and crafting the art of honest, humble communication.
- Research and enroll in an affordable or free community college speech/communication class. There are options available in almost every community.
- Research local Toastmasters club and attend one meeting. It’s scary at first, but one of the most rewarding leaps of faith I’ve ever made. Find local clubs in most communities here: http://www.toastmasters.org/
- Visit a local flea market or weekend farmer’s market and enter friendly negotiations on several small items. Don’t buy a bunch of crap, but flea or farmer’s markets are great places to enter into friendly negotiations in small increments.
Further Reading: The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman (trust me, it’s one of the best books on humble communication for anyone – even singles).
#3 – Studying Habit Change…
The longer I live, the more I realize the value of studying the basic principle of psychology and habit change.
Far too many people jump head first into a change, without even realizing what really motivates or drives them to lasting results.
“I’m never eating fast food again!”
“I’m going to workout every day!”
“I’m not spending any more money on entertainment/fun!”
We’ve all been in mindsets where we’ve shouted these proclamations from the rooftops! Unfortunately, most of us end up right back where we started after the initial honeymoon motivation burns out.
In order to stretch out this period – and fuel long-term, lasting change – we have to have a better understanding of what really motivates us. This comes in two parts:
- What motivates us as humans.
- What drives you personally.
I’ve come to terms with the fact that most people simply try to make habit change a logic problem. They think they can out educate, out learn, or out read their problems.
It’s not that easy, folks.
Lasting change requires much more than just additional information.
In their amazing book Switch, Chip and Dan Health map out the following key elements to change habits:
- Directing your logical mind with clear, concrete directions
- Motivating your emotional mind – the part most people leave out!
- Shaping your environment to support and make your path to change easier
In other words, most of us totally ignore the fact that our emotional minds need to be fed, motivated, and inspired. And we rarely take steps to change our environment (a topic we’ll dive into much deeper in the next video post).
It’s not just about logic, people. It’s a multi-headed beast that requires efforts on multiple fronts.
But the great news is that it’s doable. By studying some of these basic elements of habit change and psychology you can drastically increase the chance of your change sticking.
[Your Challenge – 10 min]: Think back to the last time you successfully changed a habit (and it stuck). We’ve all made positive habit changes in our past. Make a list of the TOP 3 reasons you believe you were able to stick to that change.
Be detailed and specific. Why were you able to make this change stick? What was different about that time than other attempts to change habits in your life?
This could be a long list, but I want you to focus on picking out your top 3 core reasons why you were so successful. Do it!
Further Reading: Switch by Chip and Dan Health
My Challenge To You!…
My challenge to you is to actually apply this stuff.
We’ve talked about how this is not just a logic problem, so reading this article alone IS NOT ENOUGH.
You need to actually do something.
You may think these challenges are too simple or too hard. Maybe you think they are silly or cliche.
I don’t care…do them anyway.
If you do them and they don’t help you – you’ve wasted a few minutes of your life – and you never have to read anything I write again.
But on the flip side…what if they work?
What if they spark the beginning of action-based change in your life?
Your Challenges…complete these tonight:
- Make a simple list of everything you’re thankful for
- Enroll in an affordable community college speech class, attend one local Toastmaster’s meeting, or practice negotiating at a flea/farmer’s market
- List the TOP 3 reasons you were successful at changing a habit in the past. Pick one time you knocked it out of the park and dissect why
The approach to tackling financial issues that I’ve outlined in this post is really important to me. I believe it’s so essential that I’ve created an entire course around the principle that taking back control of your financial life is about more than just knowing the numbers.
We talk numbers and formulas just like anyone else, but the difference is we choose to focus the bulk of our time and energy on mindset, environment, motivation, psychology, and community support from like-minded members.
These are the oft-ignored principles that lead to long-term, lasting change!
· Unautomate Your Finances ebook
· You Vs Debt Sample Lesson
· What to Sell Where Flow Chart
· Debt Payoff Tracker
· 10 Tips for an Effective Craigslist Ad
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing a bit more of my core philosophy – as well as some sample video lessons, worksheets, and daily challenges. I know you’ll be super impressed at what we’ve put together, all of which is summed up in the name of our new class – You Vs. Debt.