Life Lessons
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Are You Really Playing Full Out?

In work, as in life, there are only 2 games you can play: 

  • The Underearning Game (Not to Lose)
  • The High Earning Game (To Win)

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

The goal of the Underearning Game is Not to Lose, which means you must focus on playing it safe, looking good and staying comfortable, avoiding anything that could possibly be scary, awkward, embarrassing or (gasp!) lead to failure.

The goal of the High Earning Game is To Win by going as far as you can with all that you’ve got.  And when you fall down, you get back up and keep going. Which means, despite your fear, you keep playing full out. 

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).

So, 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 hear: How many did you check?  Is there anything you’d add to this list? Leave a comment below.


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What’s $hame Got To Do With It?

It was a conversation with a friend I’ll never forget. Her family was dirt poor. Mine was quite wealthy.

Our childhoods were starkly different, but we shared a startling similarity. Growing up, we both felt a lot of shame around our family’s finances. 

I hated being different from my friends. She loathed feeling less than her peers. I never knew if people liked me for me or my rich parents. She always suspected others pitied or looked down on her.

That’s when I realized: Money Shame is ubiquitous regardless of one’s economic status. 

Recently, I’ve also realized: Money (or lack of it) is not the source of our shame. Money simply magnifies the shame we’ve always carried.

Shame is the intense pain of feeling so awful, so flawed, so defective that I’m worthless and unlovable.

I’m convinced that unhealed shame is perhaps the major reason smart, capable women struggle financially.  

Here’s why. When shame is triggered, the logical thinking part of our brain virtually shuts down. 

“It’s like our IQ drops 30 points,” Bret Lyon, founder of the Center for Healing Shame, told me. “We can’t think. We freeze. We feel stupid. We’re at a loss for words.”

Bret noted, during a workshop I attended last week, that because shame is so unbearable, we’ll do anything to avoid feeling it. He described 4 common reactions:

  1. Denial—numbing the pain, often through addictions (compulsive spending, chronic debting, and codependency).
  2. Attacking others—lashing out or blaming another, taking the onus off ourselves
  3. Attacking ourselves—slipping into brutal self-flagellation for being less than perfect.
  4. Withdrawal—isolating from others, going within to lick our wounds,

Each reaction, if left unchecked, can radically erode one’s financial stability. Which confirms my suspicion: the secret to financial security, for many women, lies in transforming toxic shame (self-loathing) into healthy shame (self-compassion).  

To demonstrate how to do this, Bret led us through a 2-part exercise.

First, we adopted a shame-based posture: head bent, eyes lowered, shoulders slumped, heart heavy. Honestly, I felt horrible!

Next, we paired up and shared something we were proud of.  The difference was astounding!

Recalling a past success quickly shifted my feeling horrible to “Yeah, I’m a flawed human being like everyone else and I have strengths.” That, in a nutshell, is the definition of healthy shame.

Shame and money is a relatively new topic I’m exploring. I’d love to know if you can relate. Leave me a comment below.


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The Compulsion to Compare

Every time you log into Facebook, you risk falling prey to a debilitating disorder. I call it The Compulsion to Compare—judging yourself against others successes and coming up painfully short.

Lord knows, it happens to me. A lot! To keep from spiraling into self-recrimination, I repeat a rhyme my grandpa taught me long ago:

If every man’s eternal care

Were written on his brow,

How many would our pity share

That hold our envy now?

Those words remind me that virtually everyone struggles with their own ‘internal cares.’

But what distinguishes the Successful is that they don’t let their fear, worry, self-doubt or whatever burdens they bear stop them…at least not for long.

They feel the fear, suffer the distractions but stay the course. And when they fall down, as they always do, they get back up and keep going. The truth is, Greatness can only be achieved by transcending your inner turmoil.

I’d love to know: Have you ever struggled with The Compulsion to Compare?


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How to Know if You’re Really Committed

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 folks 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 enough moxie to make your idea work. If on the other hand, you are determined to succeed despite all the naysayers, you most likely will.

Face it. Without commitment, you can’t possibly succeed. But once you commit fully, you can’t possibly fail.

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 alongside him?  But the moment I took a tumble on the first day of motorcycle class, that was it. Clearly I wasn’t committed.  I’d be just as happy on the back of hubby’s bike.

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 suggested: “If it doesn’t absorb you, if it isn’t fun, don’t do it!”Amen to that!

What clues do you look for to determine if what you say you want to do is really an authentic desire? Leave a comment below.


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Joint vs Separate Accounts

If you’re married, or about to be, I have a question for you.  Do you have money in your own name?

Even if you’re blissfully in love with each other, even if (s)he’s filthy rich or a financial genius, it’s critical to have your own economic identity a bank account and credit card in your own name.

In part, it’s a matter of self-protection. If anything happens to your Prince(ss) Charming, you could be in big trouble. Oh, the horror stories I’ve heard from women who couldn’t get credit or had all kinds of legal problems after losing a spouse through death or divorce because everything was listed under their spouse’s name.

Also, since money is the #1 source of marital spats, having separate accounts could minimize arguments. As Stephanie Sarkis pointed out in Psychology Today, “the less you argue about money, the closer you will feel to your partner.”

But there’s also a psychological component. A separate financial identity, even while maintaining shared accounts, makes a major personal statement. It has nothing to do with the relationship. It has everything to do with your self-concept and sense of autonomy.

Putting money in your name is about growing up, becoming an adult, claiming your sovereignty over your own life.

I’d love to hear if money is a source of strife or harmony in your relationship? Leave a comment below.


Are you in search of a safe place to talk money with other women? My brand new virtual community, The Wealth Connection, is that safe place. Click here for more info.

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I Really Want To…But I’m So Damn Scared!

dedicate this to the women in my ReWIRE Mentorship Program—and all of you—who are on the verge of taking a big leap.] 

Maybe you’re ready to open your own business. Or your gut’s saying ‘slow down, spend time in stillness.’ Or it’s become quite clear—you’ve got to start setting stronger boundaries.

You really want to take the next step. But you can’t. Fear, like a colossal boulder, stands in your way.

Of course you’re afraid. Fear is normal, inevitable, whenever you leave the comfort of the familiar and venture into the unknown.

The goal is not to eliminate fear. Because you can’t. The goal is to act in spite of it. 

The best advice I’ve ever read was in an interview with writer Ray Bradbury. “Just jump off the cliff and build your wings on the way down,” he said, later adding, “If you’re too cautious, you’ll miss life.”

There’s no way around it. If you’re going for Greatness, there’s only one path: feel the fear, endure the discomfort, observe the resistance, and go for it anyway. (On the other side of fear you’ll find your power.)

But hear this! You don’t have to do it alone. The best antidote to fear, for us women, is surrounding yourself with a supportive community. 

That’s why I’m starting a brand new virtual community for financially aspiring women, The Wealth Connection. (Details coming soon! Get priority notification here.)

As high earner Karen Page once told me:“Success is a social activity.  You can’t do it alone. You just can’t.”  Amen to that!!!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on how a supportive community (of lack of one) has impacted you. Leave me a comment below.


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The Hidden Danger of High Earnings

I recently attended an event where I was surrounded by incredibly successful women.  Every participant earned a high six or seven figures…more than 90% of the population.  

But as our conversations went deeper, I noticed a disturbing theme. There’s a dark side to high earnings. Whopping wages can be deceptive and dangerous. I call it the Illusion of Affluence. 

I saw it at that conference. I see it repeatedly with clients. High earners spending too much, saving too little, or plowing all profits back into their business. Their ample earnings gives them the fantasy, but not the security, of affluence.  

Even if they can easily make a bundle whenever they want, high earners are as vulnerable to hard times and sudden change as anyone else.  

Absolutely, women making big money are to be applauded. But the real measure of success isn’t what comes to you…it’s what stays with you. In other words, your net worth—the sum total of what you own minus the sum total of what you owe.   

Very few high earners I meet have a net worth over a million dollars. Far fewer if the value of their home wasn’t counted. Fewer still could afford to stop working, even years down the road.  

If you’re a successful high earner, or on course to becoming one, ask yourself this question: Isn’t it time my money works as hard for me as I do for it?   

I promise, wealth building doesn’t need to be overwhelming or time consuming if you start following these 3 steps: 

  1. Delegate—find financial professionals to help you create a plan and keep you on track
  2. Automateevery month automatically have a specific sum of money transferred to a savings account and also your brokerage firm.
  3. Educateeveryday, read something about money (peruse the headlines of the business section of the paper or browse through a financial magazine). I call it the Osmosis School of Learning.  

All it takes is a few minutes of daily reading, the support of trusted advisors and the habit of consistent savings to become a truly affluent woman…regardless of how much (or how little) you earn.

Leave a comment below and tell me how you make your money work for you.


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The Miraculous Power of Taking Responsibility

I clearly remember when I was in the depth of despair, unable to restrain my gambling husband. He had depleted our bank account, putting me and our daughters at terrible risk.

I turned to A Course in Miracles for solace. Instead of the solace I sought, I opened to a passage that shook me to the core.

The Course told me, in no uncertain terms: “I am responsible for what I see. I choose the feelings I experience and I decide upon the goal I achieve. And everything else that seems to happen to me, I ask for and receive as I have asked.”  

In other words, the Course said, “You are doing this unto yourself.” Quite a harsh pill to swallow…even from my beloved Course.

At first I was furious. How dare anyone even suggest I’m responsible for my husband’s recklessness. He lost my money. Not me.

But as my anger subsided, those words—no one did this to me; I [was] doing it to myself—began to make sense. I finally understood what the Course promised—taking responsibility would be “my salvation.” 

This mess wasn’t solely my husband’s fault. I was as culpable as he. He may have gambled away my inheritance, but I was the one who gave him the keys to the kingdom by abdicating control.

Regardless of my husband’s actions, my choice to be a passive victim, was the real culprit. Once I realized my role in this disaster, once I started taking responsibility, everything changed rather quickly. 

Over time, I was able to not only forgive, but to actually thank my ex for losing my inheritance and my father for not bailing me out. After all, it was because of them that I discovered my calling.

Once I assumed personal responsibility, my passage to financial empowerment shifted into high gear. Sometimes, the best financial advice comes from the most unexpected sources.

I’d love to hear if miracles have occurred for you when you’ve taken responsibility…which isn’t always easy, is it? Share your story below.


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Brilliant Idea for Raising $avvy Kid$

Pati Wolfgang sent me this story. It’s so good, I had to share. If you have kids, you’ve got to read this!

When my boys were tiny and we went in the store, I’d bring pencil and paper.

I’d also count the money in my wallet before going in to see how much treat money we had.

Later, I had them help count.

Then, when they saw things, they could see if that fit in their treat allowance. What was sweet, too, is plenty of times, one would give their funds to their brother. Or they’d pool together.

If it was more than the daily funds allowed, I would write down, with their help, what it was and what store it was in. That left them feeling heard. They knew what they wanted mattered, even if it couldn’t be bought that day.

They’d focus on reading the label to me, figuring out which store.  It was cute.

Then, once a week or so, we’d have a fun fund meeting and go over the list.  We’d talk about the extra “fun fund” we had that week.  I’d talk about how this week was more than last because…. etc. That helped them see, sometimes if the plumber came, we could still do something fun, but we toned it back a little.

They’d constantly say how it helped them to see how they could want something so much, then just a day or two later not want it any more.

They’re adults now. They love to save just as much as they love to treat themselves. They still share and pool funds.

Share below how you teach your kids about money.


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How the Wealthy Think…and You Can Too!

Q.  How can I SAVE money to create wealth (which means cutting back spending) and still have a feeling of ABUNDANCE, not a mentality of LACK (which means the desire to SPEND).  

A. Oh the devious ways we fool ourselves by how we choose to think.  

If you think like a Consumer, then cutting back spending to sock away savings will absolutely feel like scarcity or deprivation, while spending offers the pleasurable (but deceptive) pretense of abundance.   

When you think like a Wealth Builder, you understand that every cent you put in savings is money you’re giving to YOU (not Starbucks or MasterCard), so that ultimately you can purchase what you please without pressure or worry.  

To paraphrase the old saw, a Wealth Builder tells her money where to go. A Consumer wonders where it went.  

The difference between the two mindsets is not deprivation but delayed gratification. And it’s easy if you think small and automate.  Every month have some money, no matter how small, automatically transferred from your checking to your savings account. You don’t miss what you don’t see.   

What if there’s nothing to spare at month’s end? Try giving up something small, like a daily latte, and bank the savings. One woman funded her IRA with lose change from her purse, coins she found in pockets doing laundry, and cash from the coupons she redeemed at the market. 

I recommend two types of savings accounts. An Untouchable for emergencies and unexpected expenses.  And a Touchable for fun stuff, like a vacation or shoe sale—which keeps you from dipping into your emergency savings, yet not feeling deprived.  

Bottom line: Instant gratification is such a cruel illusion. I’ll never forget meeting an elderly woman who lamented: “I always got such joy from shopping. But now that I’m old and I look back on all the money I wasted, I wish to God I had saved more.” 

How do you balance feeling abundant with the discipline of spending less and saving more? Leave me a comment below.


Thank you, Tracy Beth & Maria Aum, for the Q.


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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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