Like any other BIG HAIRY GOAL you might choose to tackle in your lifetime, working toward financial independence (or even just securing a comfortable retirement) seems incredibly overwhelming in the beginning.
Like any other BIG HAIRY GOAL, it helps to fully visualize where you want to be, and then break it into actionable chunks. Reverse engineer it, and plan to get there in steps. Smaller, manageable steps.
The first step is always the same, regardless of the goal, but it’s the one step that’s most commonly overlooked.
Get Your Mind Right.
Before you stop reading this post because you’re scared I’m going to lecture you about the metaphysical for ten paragraphs, hear me out.
Have you ever noticed how you can type 150 wpm with no typos all day long, until someone is standing over your shoulder?
What about when you actually take the time to do your hair, and wear a nice outfit–do you notice that you tend to have better interactions with the people around you? You’re more confident, and people are more comfortable talking with you?
The outfit isn’t the cause for that anymore than the person standing over your shoulder actually causes you to forget how to type worth a crap. It is entirely your FEELINGS about yourself and/or your environment that (consciously or not) impacts how you react on a physical level. This is what I’m referring to when I say “self-talk.
Everything You Do Starts with How You Feel.
The examples above may be small ones, but the same principle applies to literally everything else in your life. The level of confidence you have in yourself will absolutely affect your interactions, how much you accomplish, and how others see you. It doesn’t matter how well you think you’re covering it up. We humans are surprisingly adept at picking up subtle cues, even if we don’t process them consciously!
It’s called your intuition, and that’s a sense that’s sadly under-valued in many cultures today, especially given our focus on science and technology. That’s a mistake though, because intuition is very real and we use sensory input beyond just speech to process and understand our surroundings.
Have you ever seen someone swear they aren’t nervous, but you notice them shaking, and avoiding eye contact?
Have you ever known someone who’s always awkward to be around, no matter what? Even after insisting everything is fine?
Yeah. We all have. You might even be that person!
If so, this is for you.
This is also for you if you ever find yourself thinking you aren’t smart enough to do something. Or maybe you think it’s too late. Or maybe you don’t trust your own ability to make decisions.
Whatever it is, I can guarantee two things:
- People around you pick up on it, whether you like it or not.
- Until you figure out how to change it, you’re not going to get what you want, or be who you want to be.
This change must begin within, and it’s easier to tackle that change once you understand the problem with your self-talk. Everybody is different, so unfortunately you’re going to have to figure that out for yourself.
You do this by noticing every negative though, every doubt you feel to yourself, and asking yourself why. Why am I saying this? Where does it come from?
The more you do this, the easier it will come and the sooner you’ll learn to redirect your thoughts and energy. To better illustrate this, I’m going to touch on the most common lie I’ve heard others tell themselves–myself included, actually–about achieving financial independence.
Big Fat Lie: I’ll Never Make Enough Money
This one is dangerous, because many people who have succumbed to this kind of defeatist attitude end up masking it as “acceptance.” That could be deliberate or inadvertent, but since acceptance is in general viewed as positive, why would you continue to question your position?
As far as why I’d call this a lie, I have two reasons.
Reason Number One:
That’s only true if you want it to be. Your ability to earn more depends on your willingness to put time into it and think creatively. Many people will stop at their salary, but that’s not the only way you can earn money! Most of us have a lot more time that we could devote to finding new creative ways to earn more, whether it’s at work or otherwise.
Reason Number Two:
You do not have to be rich or make six figures in order to reach financial independence. It’s about leaving below your means, and you can find a way to do that regardless of whether your income is 45K or 150K. If you make 45K per year, and you can find a way to live on 20K, then you’re already ahead! You’re saving over half of your income, and you don’t need to save as much money as the guy making 150K (mainly because he’s probably spending more than 20K per year to live, thanks to lifestyle inflation).
There are many reasons we tell ourselves we can’t do something, but if that’s the dialogue we’re having internally then we’ve already made up our minds. Ever heard of a self-fulfilling prophecy?
If you believe you’ll never get a raise, you’re way less likely to ask for one (and that makes you less likely to GET one).
By believing you’ll never be wealthy, you’re not going to take the kinds of risks you’d need to take to get there, because why bother?
If you believe you don’t qualify for that job, you’re not going to apply for it. We ladies are especially guilty of that, says Science (or HP, whatever).
You can’t wait for the universe to prove you wrong.
You have to do that for yourself. If you can’t find a way to change your opinions of yourself and what you’re capable of, you’ll never change your behavior. And if that never changes…your life won’t either.
I don’t mean to sound preachy. I’ve struggled with self-talk as much as the next person, believe me. However, I’ve been able to see tremendous change in myself when I’ve gone out of my way to tell myself I CAN do the hard thing. Even if I’m lying at first.
One last thing I’d like to share on this subject. I’ve been doing a workout program for the last several weeks, and aside from better sleep and firmer butt cheeks, I’ve seen a surprising side effect that’s worth mentioning.
Your Self-Talk Has a Ripple Effect
And no, I don’t mean the thigh ripple on leg day (but there’s that too, unfortunately).
The trainer I’ve been listening to in these videos for weeks is a big proponent of self-talk, too, and at first I didn’t think much of it. But, after 3 or 4 weeks, I realized it was starting to work. Not only was she convincing me to convince MYSELF to “do the hard thing” and finish the workout, but I was starting to show up more consistently for my other goals, too.
I started coming home from work and spending time on my side projects (like this blog!) instead of watching TV or browsing Instagram. I’d choose to practice a new skill instead of browsing Netflix or drinking beer on the patio with my husband.
Don’t get me wrong, I love those activities too, but previously there wasn’t a good balance. Now, though, I’ve been catching myself saying things internally like, “You’ll enjoy a beer on the patio later a LOT more if you work on this project first. Even if you don’t feel like it.”
I share all of this so that I can say that maybe you need to start small. Maybe you need to first convince yourself that yes, you actually can save 20% of your income. Once you get over one hurdle, the other ones come more easily.
Today you can save 20%. Maybe next year it’s 30%. Eventually…
You can be financially independent. 🙂