Give Yourself A Chance to Be Different

January 16, 2020

All the way back in December of 2019, I shared the following in an Instagram post. "Give yourself a chance and believe you can be different [with money]." And have been pondering this truth since then as I want 2020 to be a year of progress and faith and courage, and none of that is going to be possible if I assume I can’t change certain habits or self-defeating mindsets.

As someone who talks to a lot of people about money and money habits, I hear self-deprecating phrases all the time. 

“I’m just so bad with money.”

“Why am I so dumb? ”

“I have no discipline for this sort of thing.”

“Ugh. Why am I such a mess?!”

If a person thinks this way, guess what they’re going to get? The same old, unhappy results with money. And as an added bonus (spoken sarcastically), a really generous portion of shame and guilt.

Sometimes people don’t actually fault themselves as the responsible party in their less-than-ideal situation. They may instead describe their situation in limiting ways that would make it awfully hard for things to become different. And while this one at least has less of the personal guilt and shame, the result is much the same.

“If I had more money, I’d be better at managing it” or “The job market is just so impossible” are just two examples that are almost certain to keep a person stuck at their current income level and stuck in their present job. Thoughts like this keep us safe from the harm that might occur if we venture out of our safe but less-than-thriving box. But guess what? They also keep us from the grand adventure and fulfillment we might find if we venture!

“I can’t earn more than $100,000.” 

“I can’t lose weight.”

“I’m just a messy person.”

“I am terrible at flirting.” 

The list of fake-truths (how’s that for an oxymoron?) could go on and on. You, the very person who is meant to be on your own side, who after all is the single-most person on earth to care about your results and well-being, telling yourself such lame stuff? Not cool, man. 

What’s especially unhelpful is that statements like the above are delivered as permanent labels, undermining all the good things you may have done despite areas of weakness that we all have.

My favorite clients to work with are those who, whether they’ve been organized and successful with money or not, are determined to do it differently. They are excited about the future–perhaps for the first time in a while–and willing to see themselves differently with money and habits. They acknowledge when they are being hard on themselves–sometimes I have to help here–and, by doing things differently, start to believe new and much healthier actual-truths about themselves. 

Let’s say you’ve been telling yourself for years that you are bad with money. Isn’t it a really hopeful thought, and a whole bunch more empowering thought, that you’ve actually just not approached it in a way that worked? Add to this a willingness to learn a new approach, and rewards are inevitable. 

As we all march into a year full of opportunity for all of us, I offer up 3 suggestions for believing differently about yourself. 

1. Let go of the old year. What were your beliefs about yourself and your life situation? Did you have healthy habits that supported goals or intentions you may have had? 

2. Look forward to the new year. What small habits are going to help you have a better year? What do you want to believe about yourself? This article provides some great tips on changing your thinking and believe new, healthier things about yourself.

3. Dream big. Sometimes our vision for ourselves is just not big or high enough to pull us out of our existing rut. I heard this quote at church the other day: “Dream big enough that it scares you a little, keeps you up at night, and pulls you out of bed early in the morning. Don’t base tomorrow’s dreams only on the past. You could be shooting well beneath your abilities.”

For 2020 to really be a fresh start of a year, the old stuff that wasn’t helping you be your best and happiest doesn’t get to pull forward into this year. Imagine that you’re packing for a European trip and you can only pack what fits in your favorite backpack. I bet you several tacos that you would get very intentional about starting with an empty backpack instead of packing on top of holey socks and rocks that were already in the backpack. 

Am I right? Some of the items in your figurative current backpack might get put back in the adventure backpack because they are awesome and serve you. But the figurative holey socks and rocks from the bottom of the backpack, they’ve got to go. 

They were part of your 2019 but don’t get to come to the 2020 party. In case you aren’t following the analogy, the holey socks and ugly rocks are those gross judgments about yourself that hold you stuck in a place that’s holding you back. The items that get back in the backpack are the habits and attitudes and focuses that have helped you all 2019 and will continue to help you in 2020.

A quote from one of my favorite authors, James Clear, sums it up perfectly:

“The more you let a single belief define you, the less capable you are of adapting when life challenges you.”

I might add a caveat to the above quote for this context, and that’s that allowing any negative belief to define yourself makes you less capable. Period. Believing that you are organized enough, capable enough, disciplined enough, smart enough...these are just the sorts of beliefs that equip you to be flexible and thrive when life challenges you. 

So, in conclusion: Believe good things about yourself. If you’re still on Earth, you have the chance to believe differently about yourself and do small things differently and have a different kind of year. Whether that be with money or your relationships or your work, give yourself the best chance for the best year by letting yourself be different in critical ways.

And if, in 2020, you find yourself going on a literal backpack-only trip, please invite me and make one of my bucket-list items come true? Great, thanks!