Monday, June 29, 2015

Mental Space

In the last 10 years, I've been speaking about various aspects of the financial march to debt freedom.  I've done about half the work, and had good success in many years.  However, I haven't fully kicked this monkey off my back.

This pilgrimage is the last march for my own debt journey.  It will end in October 2016.  I am well on my way to ensuring this happens.

The part I've neglected to speak openly about is the mental aspect of making such a journey.

It has taken me quite a while to realize that all the tips, tricks, plans, and layouts can only get you so far.  The biggest change, by far, needs to be the mental aspect of your relationship with money.

Like any relationship, or any behaviour, it is rooted deep in our minds through pattern, behaviour, and feelings.  What do I mean by that?  Let's dig in...

When you begin learning, you look for role models in life to help you navigate through the new challenges, old challenges, obstacles, and everything else.  Those role models start with your parents, your grandparents, your parents friends and siblings, and if you are lucky to not be the first-born in your family, your own brothers and sisters.  If you are an only child, OR you are the first born you look directly at your parents for these learnings.

Parents are incredibly influential in our lives.  Whether those are biological, foster, step, or other family members or people filling this type of role, they are there.  How they deal with money, with life, with stress, with coping, grief and all other manner of things influences how you do things in your own life.  Do you have debt?  Take a look at your parents...did they or do they have debt?  Pattern. 

For me, when I look at my family, I see great role models of money management in many of them...and the one that seems to influence me most has a bad relationship with money. 

Sometimes, though, your relationship with money isn't influenced by these people.  It can be a product of not wanting to deal with things, or learn about how to handle money that causes you to cover your eyes in a game of hide and seek - you hide, and the creditors seek you. 

Behaviour surrounding money comes from many learned places.  We learned how to be this way.  This is not an excuse, because as we all know, you can learn to do things differently.  Do you want to though? 

If you are like me and think you want to, and then proceed to spend 10 years "trying", you didn't really, down in the core of it, want to do it in the first place.

So, what made me decide this is the last time I'll be doing this march to debt freedom?  Or as I now call it, the march to working for myself?  I'm tired of carrying it around with me.  I'm tired of it limiting my life growth potential.  It is literally standing in the way of the next set of goals I'd like to pursue.  To get to those goals, I have to conquer this one, for the last time. 

The clock is ticking for you all to see.  I have cleared up and paid off 2 credit cards, and dropped their balances into very manageable ranges now.  After my next pay check, I'll be calling the last credit card company - the one I'll be cancelling outright when I'm done with the balance owing - and setting up a plan with them, to ensure that as I pay it off, the available credit limit comes crashing down too. 
It's astronomically high, and really shouldn't be.  It should never have been that high.  And I should never have abused it like I did.  However, it happened, and I am no longer beating myself up about it.  That mental space has helped keep me stuck in this loop for this long.  Beating, berating, scolding myself hasn't helped serve me in the past.  I'm trying something different now.

I'm shifting my mental space to one of abundance.  I've been here before, so what is different this time? 

ME!  I'm different.  I'm working a plan that doesn't feel like a plan.  It feels like taking care of business.  I'm in the business of moving toward working for myself again. By that I mean that every day when I get up the money I earn, and the money I see on my paycheck, will be spent on only things that keep me protected, and functioning.  It means that I will pay for rent, car insurance, life insurance, food, clothing, gifts, my medical people, and saving for my goals.  It will no longer be sucked up and syphoned off to a creditor.

I have 500 - ish days to finish paying off this last creditor.  And then the money I make is mine. 

[maniacal laugh!]

The mental space I have now is built for now.  It is looking at every day things that I can do to get myself to where I want to be.  Once today is over, I move on.  I have time for reflection on the weekends, and at month end.  I am treating myself like a business now.  And mitigating my own risks by dropping the available credit on the two cards I'll be keeping to a collective total of $2,000. 

The room on the cards will allow me to do what I need to do, and keep the balance in a manageable amount.  Just slightly more than one paycheck to clear both cards is where I feel comfortable with these.  I'm tracking my spending on my iPOD app Expense 5.  It helps me keep on top of my finances, and let's me see in real time, where my budget is base don my spending.  Seeing the social worker also helps - though the root of our work is actually on another goal entirely - the work crosses over into this one as well. 

And so, 16 months - 18 payments from Consumer Debt Freedom is where I sit, as of this little recap.  My mental space is getting clearer.  I am feeling better about my path and my goals and my everyday choices. 

It is tough work.  It is uncomfortable work.  It is expanding and life-changing work to sit down and dig around in your brain.  I mean truly dig around in it.  Analyzing yourself the way you do with problems and work-flow efficiencies at work.  Taking the time to do this work is so rewarding and eye-opening.  It isn't for the faint of heart though.  You will feel.  Most of us spend a great deal of time running away from the feeling portion of life.  You will have melt-downs over a glass of wine.  You will get angry with yourself.  You have to, to truly get the work done.  You can deflect.  You can blame.  You can do all those other things you do so you don't have to feel and don't have to know that it is you doing these things.  Until you give this up.  Until you actually admit that you are the problem, culprit, reason for these things, it won't go away. 

Providing the mental space to do these things isn't easy.  There is no quick fix for this.  It's taken me 10 years to get here.  Some of you got there and got busy long before I did.  I made a laundry list of mistakes along the way.  It was part of my path though.  I needed to fall into the ditch, bend a rim and pop a tire in a pothole, fall off and on the wagon several times, because that was the journey I had to take.  Kudos to those of you that get this figured out without all that.  And to those of you that are still trying to figure it out, keep going! 

Today, I give myself permission to celebrate the wins I've had this past week, and learn from the non-wins I've had.  Today, I give myself permission to let go of the emotional baggage I've carried around regarding this march.  Today, I give myself permission to take another step forward, away from the baggage, toward the goal feeling lighter, stronger, more mentally prepared and focused.  And today, I give you permission to do the same. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Reframing Your Mind

I started working with a psychologist on another goal just recently.  Happily, the skills I am gaining, and the mind frame-work I'm doing are transferable to almost anything. 

The one big thing that we've been working on applies to many of us.  We set a goal - like visiting Ireland, or Aruba, Disneyland, finishing school, being debt-free, climbing your first mountain etc. - and we spend all of our time "counting down until we are there" without actually being present on the journey TO getting to the goal.

How many of you do this... 185 until Christmas!!  6 more sleeps until vacation!  4 days until I leave for a most amazing excursion to Jamaica! 

Yep, I do it too.  We put so much emphasis on the END result/game, that we forget to pay attention to all the things happening to us BEFORE we get there! 

Then, for a little while, we define our life in terms of "before" I went to Ireland, and "after" I came home. 

So, for a while, I will be centering myself on the daily, and weekly, and monthly grind, leaving out the big countdown to the end.  That's why I have a counter on my wall! 

Paying attention to the daily, weekly things will help me truly see how I'm actually doing to get to my goal.  I started to talk about this in the last couple of posts here, in that, I've been noticing that I'm finding a little bit of money nearly everyday now.  Drips and puddles and drabs and drops of it are starting to come in.  This weekend, I was actually paid overtime to complete a task that in the two days this week that I was at work, I just didn't have time to do.  So, on a Sunday, in June I made about $80 for 3 hours worth of work. 

The weekend before I participated in a community wide garage sale and brought in $112 of my own.  This year already, I've sold off gently used, like new-condition items for a total of $435.  I'm transforming "stuff" into dollars, and feeling better about myself, my home, and my financials as I go.

Sure I still have an overall goal, with a time frame that I'll be meeting.  However, it is no longer about 15 months until I'm debt free!  14 Months until I'm debt free!  It's about, today I noticed [this], I found [this], and I was able to do [this] toward that goal.

It is about making every single choice count.  It is about making a concerted effort to reaching my goal, on a micro-scale, instead of a macro-scale.  It's a bit like literally living the saying "Take care of the pennies, and the pounds take care of themselves."  Enjoying life everyday on the journey to the big goal can be just as rewarding as the goal itself.  Your appreciation for the goal is often exponentially heightened by continuing to stay in the moment on the journey. 

That, and your brain will remember what happened along the way and see the good things that are revolving around you to get you to that goal.  This is a new thing for me.  And will be an interesting journey as well. 

Another saying that comes to mind on this is "Set It.  And Forget It."  I'm pretty sure that's for a food related product from an infomercial at some point, yet in this case it is absolutely applicable.  Set your goal, then forget about the big one, and begin concentrating on making the small, minute steps work in your favour and count.  Suddenly, you'll be at that goal and you'll be astounded by it!

The Secret and the Law of Attraction often work this way.  You set the intention with the catalogue of the Universe, then you be about your everyday marching along.  Then one day, your individual choices add up to the goal itself, and you are signing the papers on your dream home, jet-setting off to that destination, or paying your last creditor and working for yourself the very next day. 

So, I'm going back to my semester reviews on my live.  Those are 4 month time-frames of reflection on where I've been and how it relates to where I want to be.  Semester 2 seems to be going along swimmingly at this point.  Semester 1 had some great wins in it.  Semester 3, is a little far away for me to even predict what will happen, and I just don't want to.

Life is beautiful right now.  I am so grateful for so many things.  Taking steps to get to my goal is actually so much FUN!!! 

Wishing you all the best on your respective journey!