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Is Money Your Drug of Choice?

How often do we use money, like Novocain, to numb the pain in our lives or the pressures at work? Instead of making things better, spending just gets us deeper into trouble.

Yet we justify our shopping sprees with thoughts like, “I’m going through a divorce. I deserve this,” or “I hate my job. At least I can enjoy my life.”

The real problem: we’re not honest with ourselves. Our denial produces considerable debt.

Getting out of denial is a prerequisite for prosperity. Credit card debt is insidious, but not insurmountable.

Making minimum payments can take 30 years or more to pay off (because 75 percent of what you pay goes toward the accumulating interest).

However, I’ve interviewed hundreds of women who have risen from the ashes of their once reckless spending. They did so by taking a series of steps: 

  • They sought help (a book*, counselor, or support group like Debtors Anonymous)
  • They stopped using credit cards (no exceptions, no excuses)
  • They lowered their interest payments (negotiating with creditors or transferring the balance to a lowered interest card)
  • They got crystal clear on their expenses (writing down everything they spent)
  • They stopped overspending (by putting their expenses into categories, they saw where to Shave and Save)
  • They followed a plan to pay down their debt (www.nfcc.org can help)

What are you doing to get out of both denial and debt? Share here.

*I highly recommend How to Get Out of Debt, Stay Out of Debt & Live Prosperously by Jerrod Mundis (based on the principles of DA)

Beware of Always Wanting More

I’ve spent most of my life yearning for more…more money, more success, more sales, the list goes on.

I proudly considered my perpetual wanting a healthy sign of a robust ambition. Until I began studying neuroscience and realized how truly unhealthy this kind of thinking actually is.

Here’s why: We literally sculpt our brain by what we dwell on. The more we think a thought or feel an emotion, the stronger that neuropathway becomes in our brain.

By constantly hungering for more, I was inadvertently telling my brain “I don’t have enough.”

The more I repeated that thought, the stronger the “not enough” neuropathway grew, until I’d unconsciously do things that kept reinforcing my experience of ‘not enough.’

Slowly it dawned on me. How can I expect more, if I was repeatedly focused on what I had not yet attained? Clearly, I needed to shift my focus to rewire my brain.

I decided to experiment. Every time I felt myself coveting anything, I stopped, took note and shifted into appreciation for what I currently had.

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Say Thank-You to the Naysayers

I have a theory. Each of us has a Patron Saint of Risk. Every time you dare do something different—make more money, write a book, start a business—this benevolent cosmic being sends a flock of angels (disguised as negative people) to tell you what a dumb idea it is.

These naysayers serve a very important function. They come to test your level of commitment. If you notice, the more tentative you feel, the more pessimistic they sound.

If they succeed in discouraging you, be grateful. Deep down, you just didn’t have the moxie to make it work.

If on the other hand, you are determined to proceed despite the pessimists, you’re sure to succeed. Commitment is what keeps you going despite rejection, disappointment or failure.

In fact, to someone committed, failure doesn’t exist. It’s simply one more thing that didn’t work.

What’s frustrating, however, is when you vow to accomplish something but to no avail. Projects fall apart. People renege on promises. Opportunities dry up. Your enthusiasm wanes. What then?

This may be a sign you’re on the wrong track. When you’re attempting something at odds with your authentic desires, your resolve will fizzle at the first hurdle.

A few years back, I was determined to learn to ride a motorcycle. My husband, a Harley fanatic, has two in our garage. Wouldn’t it be cool if I could ride one alongside him?

But when I took a tumble on the first day of motorcycle class, that was it. Clearly I wasn’t committed. I was quite happy to ride on the back of my hubby’s bike, thank you very much.

When you find yourself perpetually thwarted with a project you’ve tackled, here’s my advice. Instead of beating yourself up or struggling mightily to make it work, step back and dig deeper.

Is this something I want so badly that I’m willing to fall down repeatedly until I finally succeed? Is this my soul’s yearning or simply an arbitrary ‘should’ I put on myself?

As D.H. Lawrence once advised: “If it doesn’t absorb you, if it isn’t fun, don’t do it!” Amen to that!

Check in with yourself—are there any projects in your life you should release? Leave me a comment below.

National Women’s (semi)Equality Day

Today is National Women’s Equality Day. Exactly 100 years ago the 19th amendment was passed, giving women the right to vote.

Honestly, I know I should be celebrating this victory. But I’m having a hard time getting in the mood.

Hey, don’t get me wrong. I’m beyond grateful to those gutsy, courageous suffragettes.

But in the last few days, I listened to a Ted Talk by one of my favorite actresses, read a WSJ profile of an acclaimed microbiologist and coached a high level executive…all of whom wearily spoke of their struggles with sexism.

Clearly full equality is far from won. The Equal Rights Amendment, proposed in 1923, has yet to be ratified. Face it, we can’t rely on the government to level the playing field for us.

If we want a seat at the table, it’s our job to take it. We can start by becoming the change we want to see in the world.

The Power of Letting Go

A long ago memory came to mind today. I was living in Kansas City, raising two little girls, running a thriving career counseling firm. Business was hopping, but I wasn’t happy. I was longing to live near water and write.

Huh??? I’d never written anything. And there was no water in KC (at least none that I’d want to live near!). Why would I give up a flourishing business, uproot my kids, leave behind a network of friends and reliable babysitters? 

Are You Really Playing Full Out?

In work, as in life, there are only 2 games you can play. One is To Win. The other is Not To Lose.

Which one are you playing? (Be honest, now!)

In order Not to Lose, you must focus on playing it safe. That means looking good, staying comfortable, avoiding anything that could possibly be scary, awkward, embarrassing or (gasp!) lead to failure.

To Win, you must play full out. That means once you start, you just keep going as far as you can with all that you’ve got. And when you fall down, you get back up and keep going.

Problem is, it can be tough to tell which game you’re playing. There are times when I swear I’m giving my all, but later it hits me. I was fooling myself by holding back (even just a tiny bit means I’m playing it safe).

I devised the following list to help assess if you’re really playing to win. 5 Signs I’m Playing Full Out (check what applies to you).

  1. I know what I want and am committed to getting it. (And if I don’t know, I devote time and energy to figuring it out).
  2. I’m so focused on my vision that I don’t get distracted (at least not for long) by irrelevant, draining, or conflicting tasks.
  3. I’m willing to experience whatever it takes—defeat, discomfort, even humiliation—to achieve what I want.
  4. I don’t say ‘yes’ when I really want to say ‘no,’ even if it means upsetting another.
  5. Every time I’m afraid to do something, I force myself to do it anyway. (And I catch myself when I justify not doing it.)

I’d love to know: How many did you check? Is there anything you’d add to this list? Leave me a comment below.

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I Know What To Do! So Why Don’t I Do It????

Could this be you? You’ve read a ton about investing, attended some classes. You understand stocks, bonds, and the value of diversification. You own a few funds in your retirement account.

Still, you continue to ignore or neglect your money, even though you know better. Why?

Blame it on traditional financial education…where the emphasis is on filling your head with facts rather than fostering your courage to change.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever been given the tools to boost Self-Efficacy, the most powerful predictor of financial well-being. (I didn’t think so.)

Self-Efficacy—a concept developed by the Stanford psychologist Albert Bandera—is a person’s belief in their ability to succeed in a given task or goal.

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Don’t Even Try to Have It All Figured Out!

Guess what the biggest roadblock is to your success? Those devilish how-tos. You know, thinking you have to have it all figured before you begin. Because that’s exactly what slows you down, or keeps you stuck

Those who have the most trouble thinking bigger are the ones who have to know exactly how they’re going do it. And if they can’t figure it out, they lower their sights.

I was in this category most of my life…until I interviewed six-figure women. 

I learned from them a three-step plan. 

  • Set a goal.
  •  Commit to reach it (without knowing exactly how).
  •  And grab hold of any unexpected opportunities that fall in your lap.

The second step is where the power is. Commitment, like a magnet, attracts coincidences. I always say, once you commit to a goal, if you’re not experiencing coincidences, go back to the drawing board. You’re obviously not totally committed.

That’s the way it happened for me. In 2008, I decided to earn $125,000. When I told my now ex-husband, he burst out laughing. I did too. It sounded ridiculous coming from a chronic underearner.

I had no idea how I was going to do it. But as I learned from the women I was interviewing, I didn’t need to have a full blown plan in place.

I just needed to take advantage of synchronicities. Of course, coincidences always lay just outside our comfort zone.

Here is the real secret to success: let go of control and do what comes next, especially if you’re scared to death to do it.

What are you scared to death to do? Leave me a comment below!

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Your Brain on Savings

There’s actually a positive side to being stuck at home. Personal savings have skyrocketed. But my guess is that when the pandemic passes, savings will plummet.

The fault may lie in our brains.

A recent study by Cornell University neuroscientists discovered that our brains are biased toward earning and against saving. Perhaps it’s the immediate gratification our paychecks offer while putting aside small amounts feels about as gratifying as watching grass grow.

“Fundamentally it comes down to this: saving is less valuable to our brains, which devote less attentional resources to it,” said the co-author Adam Anderson. “Our brains find saving more difficult to attend to.”

Yet fixating on earnings can be fool hardy. I call it the Illusion of Affluence. I see it all the time. Successful women spending too much, saving too little, plowing all profits back into their businesses or on classes for personal growth (deceptively calling it “an investment”).

Their ample earnings gives them the illusion, but not the security of true abundance. The real measure of wealth is your net worth…not what you earn but what you keep.

Giving is Good, Right? That Depends….

Do you know what today is? National Give Something Away Day. Which got me thinking about giving. We women have been groomed to be Givers. And Giving is good, right? Well, that depends…

There are two kinds of Giving. One empowers. The other weakens. The latter–which I call Giving ‘Til It Hurts—is what’s been expected of women for generations. Sacrifice ourselves for the sake of others.

Giving ‘Til It Hurts provides the illusion of being needed, important, powerful. But self-denial is, in fact, an abdication of power, leaving you exhausted, resentful and depressed, often crippling the receivers, robbing them of their self-esteem or sense of sovereignty.

Powerful Giving, on the other hand, is what I call Giving With Boundaries. This means giving to yourself first, with love, not guilt, refusing to do anything that sucks you dry or leaves you cold.

Meet Barbara Huson

When a devastating financial crisis rocked her world, Barbara Huson knew she had to get smart about money… and she did. Now, she wants to empower every women to take charge of their money and take charge of their lives! She’s doing just that with her best-selling books, life changing retreats and private financial coaching.

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