Three Steps to Financial Fitness: Are You Out of Shape or in The Zone? By Helaine Iris
Your financial fitness is probably the last thing you want to talk about -- yet, most likely the biggest thing on your mind.
Whether you've got enough in your bank account or you're struggling to make ends meet, becoming and staying financially fit is essential to feeling both peaceful, powerful and self realized.
Notice - I didn't say "having money" was essential, I said being financially fit, in other words, being empowered and living in integrity around your finances is what will create the peaceful, yet powerful life you long for.
According to psychologist, Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs, you have to have your basic needs for safety, food, shelter, financial security, and health and wellbeing met before you can turn your attention to your higher pursuits such as: connection, purpose, and self actualization. So, if you're constantly out of breath, panting and struggling as you ascend the mountain toward financial security you are out of shape, and not likely to succeed at meeting your higher needs. Here are three steps that will help you cruise into the zone of financial fitness:
Step 1: Understand the Root of the Problem
Before you embark on a financial overhaul you need to discover and be honest with yourself about your relationship to money. There are many reasons people are dis-empowered about money and live their lives under the stressful weight of lack. Your relationship to money starts with a belief, often a belief that may be transparent to you handed down from the family you grew up in. Some common beliefs about money are: money is the root of all evil, you cannot be spiritual and have money, and money makes people compromise their values. Find out what you believe deep down and allow yourself to be curious about the truth instead. Shedding light on your limiting, source beliefs and replacing them truth is essential.
Denial is the other potent factor that will keep you asleep and not making financial progress. Do you believe that if you REALLY look honestly at your finances, you won't like what you see and be confronted with having to make a change you don't want to make? If this is you, all I can tell you is your strategy is not working. Staying in denial of reality, or flipping into magical thinking believing that the "law of attraction" alone will create abundance, I'm sorry to say, won't get you anywhere.
You have to make it a priority to explore the negative beliefs you hold, and your lack of honesty about reality in order to get to the root of your financial distress and turn it into financial success. Then, you have to develop the courage to face where you are in denial and take steps of corrective action.
Step 2: Become Financially Fluent
You have to build skills - practical skills that demonstrate your knowledge of how money works. Although money is just another form of energy, it has simple rules associated with it. For example, rule number one: you have to have more coming in than going out. And, the only way to know this is to keep impeccable track of how much you have and where it is going. As Suze Orman, the popular finance guru, recommends, start by investigating what you spend on a monthly basis. This is where your courage comes in -- most people are surprised by how much they spend. Or, you might learn that you are spending beyond your means -- you don't have enough coming in. The power of this investigation is that it offers you knowledge and then, choice. Remember: knowledge is power.
Once you get a handle on the basics, you can then turn your attention to setting specific goals that will help you achieve your vision of financial fitness. It's not enough to say you want to be financially fit; you have to have tangible targets to reach for. Define how much you want to make, how much savings is realistic, how much debt is necessary, and what you want your retirement picture to look like in order to live free of worry. Then, when it's time to make decisions about what you can and can not afford, you decide based on facts, financial statements and whether the expense is in alignment with your values and vision.
Finally, remember you don't have to do this alone. There are a lot of knowledgeable experts in the field of financial management who can help you.
Step 3: Let it Flow and Leverage Everything
Once you've taken care of steps one and two which are practical in nature you are well on your way to financial fitness. In order to stay there, and keep growing, you need to adopt, commit to and practice ongoing perspective shifts that will maximize your ability to enjoy your financial health as a lifestyle rather than a rote exercise you do once.
If you truly understand that money is a form of energy, you will accept its natural flow in and out of your possession. How you respond to that flow will determine how stressed or relaxed you are. Finding your personal balance between appropriate spending and saving, will allow you to enjoy your financial fitness giving you the space to live your dreams and not be afraid. Financially fit people understand the judicious use of credit and borrowing and can increase wealth with it. Financially fit people take measured risks -- they know that risk is part of success. Finally financially fit people are generous -- they use their creativity to design ways to serve others and the world.
Learn to leverage everything -- time, money, resources and relationships. Set up systems and technology to maximize your success, for example, do online banking that can save you time. Arrange for any savings or tax liability to be automatically deducted from your account. Don't rely on your own best intentions to save, make it a non-option every month to pay yourself first.
Network; build your relationships so you can access support and resources easily.
And finally, educate yourself. Learning about money and how wealth grows is only boring if you haven't looked at your original, dis-empowering beliefs. After all this is about YOU and your choice to finally be free of financial stress so you can live and fully enjoy the kind of life you say you want.
About the author: Helaine Iris is a Life and Business Coach, who has been featured in numerous publications, including "O" The Oprah Magazine. She helps entrepreneurs and professionals accelerate their success, while achieving a more complete and fulfilling personal life. She combines a broad range of professional experience in her work, including management positions in the education, training, retail and international non-profit sectors. For a free consultation, contact her at 603-363.4252 to discuss how she can help you accelerate your own success. You may also visit her website, Path of Purpose, for additional information, or email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org